A recent study titled, “Efficacy Of Tourniquets Exposed To The Afghanistan Combat Environment Stored In Individual First Aid Kits Versus On The Exterior Of Plate Carriers,” concluded that windlass combat application tourniquets were less effective and prone to failures when exposed to the environment (Weppner et al, 2013). Tourniquets are a vital tool in hemorrhage control on and off the battlefield, and have been shown to save lives. During Operation Enduring Freedom, Marine Combat Team 3 reported a 14% CAT tourniquet breakage rate between May and October 2009, and 1stBattalion, 6thMarines reported a 10% breakage rate of CAT tourniquets during application. Overall reports have been that CAT tourniquets have had reported failure rates of as low as 41% compared to 9% of unexposed CAT tourniquets. So what is the take away here?
Tourniquets and their efficacy can mean life or death for a wounded person who is relying on this medical device to work correctly. The CAT tourniquet is not he only tourniquet on the market, and there are other styles that use different mechanisms, and are made for austere conditions. While no tourniquet is 100% perfect and free from breakage or failures this study does show that this specific tourniquet has a reduced efficacy when exposed to elements. Therefore, CAT tourniquets are best kept in its packaging and unexposed to elements.
This study has demonstrated that the CAT tourniquet has a reduced efficacy when exposed to the environment, and elements. Knowing that the windlass CAT tourniquet has a reduced efficacy from exposure means it is not the appropriate tourniquet for marine environments. The appropriate tourniquet for marine environments is the OMNA tourniquet for a variety of reasons.