OMNA Tourniquet Leash vs. Improvising A Leash Cord As A Tourniquet - A Tourniquet Guide For Surfers

OMNA Tourniquet Leash vs. Improvising A Leash Cord As A Tourniquet - A Tourniquet Guide For Surfers

January 26, 2018 0 Comments

OMNA Tourniquet Leash vs. Improvising A Leash Cord As A Tourniquet


Many people are still misinformed about bleeding control and tourniquets. One such population is surfers. Many surfers have been told they can use their leash cord as an improvised tourniquet to stop bleeding. This information is more of a blind leading the blind. While improvising a tourniquet is possible with a leash cord, there is a lot of information that proves doing so should only be a last resort, and that the effectiveness of an improvised tourniquet is greatly lacking when compared to actual commercial pre-hospital tourniquets.


Let’s examine some of the facts regarding improvised tourniquets.


  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, and production that scientifically prove the efficacy of the device 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. Now that you know this, do you want to try to improvise a tourniquet than is going to fail 75% of the time, or do you want to surf with an actual Tourniquet Leash that’s scientifically proven to consistently work?

  3. Improvised Tourniquets 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. Compartment syndrome is a painful condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. This pressure can decrease blood flow, which prevents nourishment and oxygen from reaching nerve and muscle cells (Ortho Info, 2018). Compartment syndrome is a surgical emergency and requires a surgeon to conduct a fasciotomy. A fasciotomy is where a surgeon cuts open the skin and fascia in the affected compartment. So using an improvised tourniquet risks compartment syndrome, requires a fasciotomy, and if not treated immediately can lead to permanent nerve and tissue damage; this is what perpetuated the myth that applying a tourniquet meant you were going to lose the limb, which is not true, if you use a commercial pre-hospital tourniquet.

  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. What TPU is not great for is being used as a tourniquet. All materials have specific mechanical properties related to tensile strength, flexural strength, elongation at break, and the like. What is not widely known is that a material with high elongation can continue to stretch even though the human eye cannot tell the difference. This means if you try to use your leash cord as a tourniquet you cannot guarantee that compression fi any will be stable. Conversely, an OMNA Tourniquet Leash / Leg Rope can is made of class 1 (critical-use) webbing, which means its tested and can consistently apply compression when configured with tourniquet mechanisms, hence why it’s the standard for non-pneumatic tourniquets. Lastly, there is a direct correlation in the width of a tourniquet and the required pressure to reach 100% occlusion.


    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















    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.


    OMNA Inc., 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.

    Doppler Ultrasound Image of Limb Blood Flow Before Improvised Leash Cord Tourniquet Applied

    Doppler Ultrasound Image of Limb Blood Flow During Improvised Leash Cord Tourniquet Applied

    As you can see from the objective evidence above the leash cord was not effective at occluding limb blood flow as a tourniquet.


    Doppler Ultrasound Image of Limb Blood Flow Before OMNA Tourniquet Leash  Applied

    Doppler Ultrasound Image of Limb Blood Flow During OMNA Tourniquet Leash  Application: 100% Occlusion

    Doppler Ultrasound Image of Limb Blood Flow Post OMNA Tourniquet Leash  Application: Normal Blood Flow Resumes.


    1. 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 utilize ratcheting mechanisms, or windlass mechanisms to compress the limb enough for occlusion.
    2. 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 being there, or the like, you have to be prepared that you will have to do everything. Conversely, OMNA Tourniquets can be applied with only one hand, and have a bite strap to help you apply the tourniquet one-handed faster.


    Hopefully, now that you’ve read this you have a better understanding why a real tourniquet 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.