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how to use a tourniquet

Make sure your surroundings are safe, and keep yourself safe by wearing gloves.

Protect yourself from immunodeficiency diseases (and all other diseases) by putting on some rubber gloves. Because of people’s potential allergies, I would suggest spending a couple dollars more and investing in powder-free, latex-free gloves for your car or first aid kit. The common gloves used in today’s EMS are made of nitrile. They’re cheap, and they fit nicely in your car’s…glove box (finally it will live up to its name!). Your use of gloves doesn’t commonly anger people you’re saving, so do it for ALL victims.

Expose the open wound.

We have a saying in emergency medicine: “A happy trauma patient is a naked trauma patient.” You just don’t know what’s wrong with them if you can’t see it.

Remove the clothing over the injury. Nothing fancy to it: tear the pant leg or shirtsleeve out of your way. If their clothes are too tough to rip by hand, carefully start the cut with your knife.

Apply firm, direct pressure to the wound site.

Use gauze on the wound during this step if it’s available. If there is no gauze, use a towel or washcloth or a rag torn from a shirt. Try to avoid having to use this homemade dressing unless it’s an emergency situation, i.e., the patient is bleeding excessively, or you are far from civilization. Non-sterile bandages can cause further unnecessary infection–but keep in mind that if you’re five miles from nowhere it is better to contain the wound with only a few germs than leave it exposed to all germs.

If the pressure does not stop the bleeding, and the dressing becomes soaked with blood, you will need to apply a tourniquet.