Today marks the first anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. I think that it is important to remember the victims of this tragic and cowardly attack, but I feel that it should also serve as a reminder of the importance to be prepared. There are several of the victims that were wounded when the bombs went off that had their lives saved as a result of the quick thinking of the bystanders and first responders, accompanied by the ability of the same to improvise and apply effective tourniquets made of clothing and belts.
This is not an isolated incident either. The high profile shooting spree by Jared Loughner that resulted in Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords being shot in the head is another case where tourniquets and hemostatic agents, that were in the Law Enforcement medical kits carried by officers, are credited with saving the lives of the injured.
These kits are modeled off of TCCC or TC3 (Tactical Combat Casualty Care) which is based off of combat experiences and the most likely threats to the injured. One of the single greatest lessons learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the safe use of tourniquets and the effectiveness of pressure bandages and hemostatic agents in stopping bleeding. This has led to law enforcement agencies and emergency medical responders being issued these same tools to use in their daily duties. The tourniquet was previously considered a last resort is now recognized as the primary tool to stop arterial bleeding on an extremity. John Cohen, senior counterterrorism official at the Department of Homeland Security stated in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing last year that, “As we began to take a hard look at how to respond to these types of incidents, what became clear was that the sooner you can stop victims from bleeding, the higher likelihood you will have for reducing fatalities, and the things that make the biggest difference in stopping bleeding are tourniquets and other bandages.” Findings like this have led to other initiatives across the United States that would make tourniquets and other lifesaving equipment available in public places like shopping malls and schools, where they could be employed by trained personnel or even the public if the need were to arise.
For preparedness minded individuals, this begs the question of, shouldn’t we do the same thing? The answer is an emphatic, yes! When making medical preparations, it is important to prepare first for the most likely scenario that will occur. For most of us, the primary threat to our health is some sort of accident. Because of this probability, a medical kit with a high quality tourniquet, pressure dressings, and hemostatic agent is an absolute must.
As a prepper, not only should medical kits be present in the home, but in the car, boat, RV, ATV, and range bag to name a few potential placements. This is because no one knows exactly when things could go wrong. It could be a mass shooting, there could be an accident at the gun range, or even an accident with a chainsaw while trying to fell a tree. These are all likely incidents that could require these particular medical supplies for proper treatment of the injuries.
My recommendation for a tourniquet would be the SOF Tourniquet accompanied by the Israeli Bandage or ETD (Emergency Trauma Dressing) for a pressure dressing and QuikClot Advanced Clotting Sponge hemostatic agent for an easy to use addition to your basic medical kit.
Regardless of the chosen supplies, what counts the most is having your medical kit put together and ready to use at a moments notice.
To see just how common incidents are where tourniquets and hemostatic agents are employed, look at this list of Law Enforcement Officer of Tactical EMS/Tactical Combat Casualty Care practices in action.