Why do you apply a tourniquet?

The reason to use a tourniquet is to stop blood from going out of the body, or to stop contaminated blood from reaching the general circulation (other parts of the body).

You might apply a tourniquet "above" where a person has been bitten by a snake or spider to stop the venom from spreading to other areas of the body. For example, if the bite is on a hand, you would apply the tourniquet on the arm...where biceps/triceps are...or forearm if you are really quick in banding the tourniquet.

The most common reason to use a tourniquet is to stop the flow of blood from a severed artery. For example, if you are first on the scene of an accident and you see a person on the ground with blood spurting out of an ankle, you would immediately apply a tourniquet to the lower leg ...you can use a belt. Here is where is gets dangerous. If you do not apply pressure, the person will most likely "bleed out" or go into shock from blood loss, etc...so, by applying a tourniquet, you may save the person's life; you can let up on the pressure for a few seconds to allow blood to flow to the foot/lower leg....BUT, in a severe gash in a leg...severed femoral artery (huge pipe)...the person will die if you do not apply a very tight and permanent tourniquet. The larger the diameter of the artery that is sliced, the faster the patient will go into shock and bleed out. In this case, unless the person gets to a cardiovascular surgeon immediately, the leg will most likely have to be amputated. This typepf pressure cuts off all the blood to every part of the body that is "south of" or distal to the tourniquet. Continuous pressure is necessary..and hopefully you will have your cell phone and a free hand to dial 911. The order of events is always dial 911 FIRST...but if you know what you're doing, you can formulate a plan to stop the bleeding WHILE you call 911... Hopefully Good Samaritan Laws will apply if you are ever put to the test!

If you are interested in helping in emergencies, I hope you will go to your local fire department and sign up to take the CERT training..(Certified Emergency Response Team).

You will learn a lot of first aid, CPR and how to interact with the public in a crisis.