Tourniquet Lessons Learned

| March 13, 2015 | 5 Comments

I’ve written this before, and talked about it in my YouTube videos, but you absolutely must train with the gear you’ve purchased. Most of the time I’m talking about firearms or other self defense tools, but today I’m going to discuss how two training sessions changed the type of tourniquet I carry.

The Concern

I previously owned the CAT tourniquet and the Cav Arms Slick tourniquet. The CAT tourniquet is very robust, but it’s big and not easily carried on the person, even when I wear my Carhartt work pants. The Slick tourniquet is very flat, very light weight, and very simple. At least, I thought it was simple until I attended two trauma care sessions this year.

The Slick has two loops. One loop is part of the construction of the tourniquet, and is not meant for a limb to go through. This loop can only open so far, but cannot tighten all the way down by cinching the nylon strap.

The other loop is the one you’re supposed to put a limb through. If you’re using both hands, light is good, and you’re not under too much stress this is pretty easy to figure out.

If you don’t use the right loop, you will have a more difficult time applying the tourniquet correctly.

The Lessons

I’ve practiced using the Slick tourniquet at home. I’ve used it with both hands on my legs, and on either arm using only one hand. I’ve also used them in prior trauma care lecture classes. This year was the first year I’ve used them in a combination class with a tactical / force on force component.

It changed things.

Instructor Gabe from QSI Training had some concerns about applying the Slick tourniquet under pressure during our class this January. My wife The She Shepherd was using the wrong loop while treating me in dim light and chaotic conditions.

I brought my Slick during a low-light force on force / trauma care combination session this year at the Polite Society Tactical Conference at Rangemaster. I was in the process of using it on a “downed” student when Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics directed me to use their SOFT-T Wide since it wasn’t clear that I could use my own gear when the scenario started. This prompted a conversation about the Slick afterwards, and Caleb said he had the exact same problem The She Shepherd did with the wrong loop.

Caleb strives to apply a tourniquet within 12 seconds. Fumbling around for the right loop (or using the wrong loop at first) would take up precious time.

I knew it was time to look at other options.

Current Practices

As with all of your tools, I encourage you to practice at home and train with professional instructors. You will learn something every time. You have to be willing to change your mind about things: techniques, equipment, and practices. I knew I could have defended the Slick tourniquet, but the truth was it was harder to use than the SOFT-T Wide.

I now carry a SOFT-T Wide on my person as part of my BFM trauma kit practice. I also have SOFT-T Wide tourniquets in my EDC trauma kit and the trauma kit in my car. I still carry the Slick tourniquets. I have one in my fleece jacket’s chest pocket, and have some in my trauma kits in case I need more than one, or if I have full control of my faculties and need to use a tourniquet on someone else.

The Slick is easier to use than the SOFT-T when conditions are optimal, but we should be training for and planning on terrible conditions. I still like the Slick due to affordability, speed, and compactness, but it’s been relegated to backup duty.

The Cav Arms Slick tourniquets are $28 for 2 from One Source Tactical, and the SOFT-T Wide is about $30 – $35 online. You can buy it for $35 shipped via Amazon Prime. If you are patient and look around you can also find it on eBay for less. I bought mine for $20 per before shipping.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

5 Comments on "Tourniquet Lessons Learned"

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  1. Kyliewyotie says:

    You did a great job of showing the downside to the slick. Thank you, I have never carried that style around. I own cat, and sof-t-w both. Why do you prefer the sof over the cat? is based on compactness alone? During my training/practice I found the cat easier for self use. I also was taught a way to carry them, that makes it fast to deploy, although it is not very compact.

    When I am being discreet (basically not at the range) I carry a swat T. It is very compact, and can used to create a pressure dressing as well. Do you have any experience with them? If so what are your thoughts.

    As always thanks for sharing your insight.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there!

      We have the CAT on our chest rigs, and I have one in my car bag. There are some complaints from people who have used the CAT that the windlass retention system is not as good as the SOFT-T, but I carry the SOFT-T due to its smaller size compared to the CAT.

      The SWAT does not have a good reputation as a tourniquet among the instructors I have talked to and the literature I have read. Some continue to carry one as a compact pressure dressing as you stated.

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