It is true that this was once taught and espoused, however, we know much more about tourniquets and the human body, and our medical interventions have improved greatly. Tourniquet use as a last resort is an antiquated protocol for trauma. Tourniquets have been proven to be safe, and effective devices, which is why the FDA classifies them as Class 1 medical devices (Low Risk). If you find yourself in a dangerous situation where you or someone else is bleeding uncontrollable (Arterial – Bright Red, Spurting) from an arm or leg applying a tourniquet as high and tight on the limb can be the best option to control bleeding until the injured can be effectively triaged by first responders. The only tourniquet that should be used as a last resort is an improvised tourniquet, which should only be attempted in the absence of a legitimate pre-hospital tourniquet.
This is another antiquated protocol for bleeding control. Unfortunately, many civilian medical personnel still think this is the correct. It’s not. Once a tourniquet is applied to a limb it should only be repositioned or removed by a medical professional.
For example, you are paddle boarding off Kukio Beach, Hawaii, when a tiger shark bumps you off your board and bites your arm off. You apply the tourniquet of your leash and it controls your bleeding prior to arrival of first responders because you were smart and were paddle boarding with an OMNA Tourniquet Stand-Up Paddleboard Leash. You should not reposition or remove the tourniquet. The first responders, or emergency room staff will make that call.
Applying a tourniquet to a limb does not mean you will lose the limb. However, not applying the tourniquet may lead to hypovolemic shock, and or death. The current statistical data has shown that a tourniquet can be worn safely for up to 2-hours with little risk of complications. It is after this time, that the risk of complications begins to arise. See chart above:
Everyday items don’t make great tourniquets. Can you use something to improvise a tourniquet as a last resort? Yes, but you should only do so in a life-threatening situation when a commercial pre-hospital tourniquet is not available. Belts, neckties, zip-ties, surfboard leashes (Leg ropes), etc. don’t make great tourniquets because they are not legitimate medical devices. Commercial pre-hospital tourniquets go through extensive testing, design controls, and quality control. They also come equipped with a form of mechanical advantage, which makes them effective.
There are several tourniquets styles that are known to be effective, and they all utilize a mechanical advantage in the form of one simple machine or another. The most common styles are windlass bars, windlass cranks, ratchets, ratchets w/ ladder straps, and wide high-strength stretchable materials. All of the styles have pros and cons to their design, even if they are functional and effective. Identifying what tourniquet type suits your environment is crucial to its successful application.
For Example, If you are going to be in water you will want a tourniquet made for maritime operations / environments. Look for a tourniquet that is engineered for the water, and if its water sports find a tourniquet leash.