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Tactical emergency care for law enforcement: Tourniquet self-application

This essential technique can mean the difference between life and death, as arterial bleeding can lead to fatal blood loss within minutes

In the fifth of a nine-part series, Robert Carlson from Brave Defender Training Group explains the critical skill of self-applying a tourniquet for law enforcement officers. This essential technique can mean the difference between life and death, as arterial bleeding can lead to fatal blood loss within minutes.

In the video, Carlson debunks common myths about tourniquet use and highlights the importance of selecting the right equipment, ensuring accessibility and practicing application under various conditions.

Key learning points

  1. Critical importance of self-application: Law enforcement officers must know how to apply a tourniquet on themselves due to the high likelihood of being injured while alone or with limited assistance.
  2. Efficacy and safety of tourniquets: Modern medical science confirms that tourniquets can be safely applied for 6 to 8 hours without causing significant tissue damage, making them a primary method for controlling life-threatening arterial bleeding.
  3. Tourniquet accessibility and familiarity: Officers should ensure their tourniquets are accessible by both hands and familiarize themselves with their specific tourniquet model, including its components and application process.
  4. Principles of application: When applying a tourniquet, it should be placed over clothing and as high on the limb as possible, avoiding joints. The application should be rapid, and the windless should be tightened until bleeding stops, even if it causes significant pain.
  5. Double tourniquet for leg injuries: Due to the large diameter of the femoral artery, a single tourniquet might not suffice for leg injuries. In such cases, a second tourniquet should be applied close to the first one without overlapping.

Discussion questions

  1. How can officers ensure their tourniquet is accessible and ready for immediate use in various tactical scenarios?
  2. What are some effective ways for officers to practice tourniquet application to achieve proficiency in self-aid during emergencies?
  3. Why is it crucial for officers to choose tourniquets from the Committee for Tactical Combat Casualty Care’s recommended list, and what should they look for in a tourniquet?
  4. How can law enforcement agencies dispel myths about tourniquets being a last resort and educate officers on their safety and effectiveness?
  5. What additional medical training and equipment should officers consider to enhance their ability to handle severe injuries in the field?

Coming up next month: Tourniquet application buddy-aid

Robert Carlson is a firearms instructor for the Memphis (Tennessee) Police Department specializing in active shooter, counterambush and tactical medicine training. He is the lead TECC instructor for the Mississippi National Guard’s Regional Counterdrug Training Academy, providing no-cost training to law enforcement across the country. He has been recognized as an expert in active shooter response by law enforcement. Carlson also owns Brave Defender Training Group and is an IADLEST nationally certified instructor.