Improvising A Leg Rope As A Tourniquet Is A Last Resort

Improvising A Leg Rope As A Tourniquet Is A Last Resort

May 07, 2018 0 Comments

Improvising A Leg Rope As A Tourniquet Is A Last Resort

According to Dr. Ballas et al., the single determining factor of shark attack survival is how quickly a legitimate pre-hospital tourniquet can be applied. Those were his findings from the first clinical study of shark attacks conducted in 2017. Fast-forward to 2018, and people are still misinformed about tourniquets. Improvised tourniquets have a statistically high failure rate of > 75%. Why then do people continue to think that it’s the best solution for surf injuries? The answer, people are still misinformed or uniformed. While it may be possible to reach occlusion pressure in some cases, leg ropes are not tourniquets, just like plywood is not a surfboard. While it may be possible to catch a wave with a piece of plywood, you’d choose a surfboard over plywood every time because it’s designed with the specific purpose of catching waves, and you know you can rely on that fact. A tourniquet is no different. You want a real tourniquet not a leg rope, although if you don’t have a tourniquet all bets are off and do what you have to do to survive. 


Let’s review some more information about leg ropes and tourniquets below:

^ Leg Rope Not Able To Reach Full Occlusion ^

  1. Improvised Tourniquets are not medical devices. An improvised tourniquet is not a medical device, which is why organizations such as the Australian Resuscitation Council recommend only trying to use an improvised tourniquet as a last resort (ARC, 2017). A medical device is designed for a specific purpose, and more importantly must have records for design, production, and scientific evidence proving effectiveness for its intended use.
  2. Improvised Tourniquets have a high failure rate. According to a study conducted by Col. Kragh of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in 2008 improvised tourniquets have a 75% failure rate.
  3. Improvised Tourniquets may cause more damage / complications. An improvised tourniquet may look like its sort of working, but another reason it’s so dangerous is that it may actually be making matters worse. If you occlude the venous blood flow that is trying to flow back to the heart, and don’t stop the arterial blood flow you set yourself or the injured person up for complications such as compartment syndrome.
  4. Improvised Tourniquet Material and Width.The diameter of a surfboard leash is typically 5mm – 9mm, with the average being 7mm. Leash / Leg Ropes are made from an elastic polymer called polyurethane (TPU). The polymer is designed to stretch and retain its shape under heavy pull forces, which is why it’s so great for surfing, but not great as a tourniquet.
  5. Leg Ropes Don’t Have Locking Mechanisms:Leg ropes do not have a means to secure them in place to retain occlusion pressure. This means if you are able to reach occlusion pressure you won’t be able to retain said pressure.
  6. Where and Who Makes Leg Ropes: Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) that do not possess or use the required quality management processes, certifications, and health registrations to manufacture medical devices make almost all leg ropes in Asia.
  7. Mechanical Advantage:Improvised tourniquets do not have a mechanical advantage to tighten. They require you to continuously wrap and wrap around the limb, whereas actual commercial pre-hospital tourniquets do have mechanical advantages.
  8. One-Hand Application:Improvised Tourniquets cannot be applied with only one hand. This is significant, because you may only have one hand to which you can use to apply the tourniquet. When it comes to bleeding control wishful thinking will get you killed. You can’t rely on someone else to save you, you have to be self-reliant, doing anything else is using flawed logic based on assumptions, and we all know that assumptions get people killed.
  9. Most Tourniquets:Unbeknownst to most people, not all pre-hospital tourniquets are the same. Most tourniquets void their warranties as soon as you take them out of the plastic. Well how does that do you any good in the surf? It doesn’t. You need to make sure you have a pre-hospital tourniquet made for the surf.
  10. Marine or Maritime Tourniquets: Windlass bar tourniquets while effective are not the best choice for surf. A number of military studies have shown that it is not feasible to apply a windlass bar tourniquet to a swimmer in distress. It’s simply too difficult to twist the bar in the water to reach the amount of compression needed.


Predicted Limb Occlusion Pressure (LOP) = (Limb Circumference / TQ Width) * 16.67 + 67


OMNA TQ Leash s vs. Leash / Leg Rope Cord

62.23 cm

Average Male Leg Circumference

24.5 inch

36.83 cm

Average Male Arm Circumference

14.5 inch

Limb Occlusion Pressure (LOP) = (Limb Circumference / TQ Width) * 16.67 + 67


















OMNA TQs occlude arterial blood flow in safe range

Leg Rope 7mm may occlude but not near safe range


As you can see from figure 1 above, the required pressure to reach occlusion is 5 times greater for the leash cord than OMNA’s Tourniquet. Considering that the safe range for tourniquet limb compression is 300 – 500 mmHg, it is obvious that an improvised surfboard leash cord is highly dangerous for surfing lacerations.


  1. So what’s the solution for surf and tourniquets? OMNA is the worlds only tourniquet specifically designed for surf, and marine environments, with some variants integrating both the tourniquet and leg rope together.
    1. OMNA Tourniquets feature marine specifications, along with a number of other innovative features such as:
      1. Wearable
      2. Made with corrosion resistant materials
      3. TRUE corrosion resistant ratcheting system (Only Tourniquet that uses all stainless steel in its ratchet).
      4. Some variants are integrated with a leg rope known as Tourniquet Leashes or Tourniquet Leg Ropes. Which can be found here:

  • OMNA independently tested our tourniquets along with an improvised leash cord and the results showed 100% occlusion of the arm and leg arterial blood flow, and the leash cord that was wrapped to bind on itself, and wrapped several times and pulled as tightly as possible failed to occlude arterial or venous blood flow.

OMNA Tourniquet Pre-Application Femoral Blood Flow, 100% Occlusion


    Hopefully, now that you’ve read this you have a better understanding why a real marine tourniquet like OMNA is superior to an improvised tourniquet. We know most surfers don’t want to think about sharks, or surfing injuries when surfing, and if you are surfing with an OMNA Tourniquet Leash you won’t have to because you know you’re prepared in case anything happens. You can then enjoy your surf session and get barreled as much as possible.