Everything You Need to Know About Tourniquet Kits
There are several kinds of tourniquet kits on the market that have been designed for traumatic bleeding control. All bleeding control kits contain a tourniquet (either the Combat Application Tourniquet® or an equivalent) along with other components that—when applied quickly to a wound—can slow or stop the bleeding until emergency medical services arrive.
If you're looking at purchasing a tourniquet kit for your home, workplace, or institution, it's helpful to be familiar with the most common devices that are included in these kits, how they help to stop bleeding, and how a tourniquet kit is different from a first aid kit.
Components of a Tourniquet Kit
A standard tourniquet kit includes:
(1) x Tourniquet (SWAT-T™ or SAM XT or C-A-T®)
(1) x 6" Emergency Trauma Dressing
(2) x Compressed Wound Packing Gauze
(1) x Stainless Steel Trauma Shear - 7.25"
(2) x Pair Nitrile Responder Gloves, Large
(1) x Survival Blanket W 51" x H 82"
(1) x Permanent Marker, Small
(1) x Instruction Card
(1) x PVC Bleeding Control Patch
(1) x Nylon Carrying Bag, Red
What Each Component Does
Each component in a tourniquet kit has a specific use in bleeding emergencies:
- Tourniquet. A tourniquet is used to cut off ("occlude") blood flow to an extremity that is experiencing severe external or internal bleeding. Originally developed for battlefield situations, tourniquets are now used to stem traumatic bleeding in civilian settings where every minute counts.
- Compressed gauze is used to pack wounds and wrap injuries that cease to bleed with direct pressure and elevation (and don't require a tourniquet).
- The emergency trauma dressing can be used to apply immediate, direct pressure to a bleeding wound.
- Nitrile responder gloves are latex and powder-free gloves that protect rescuers and patients from transmitting or becoming infected with bloodborne diseases.
- Trauma shears can be used to cut through clothing so that the rescuer can locate and treat a bleeding wound.
- A survival blanket is used to preserve body heat. This is especially important when treating bleeding victims in cold climates and at night or when the victim is in shock.
- A permanent marker is essential for noting the time a tourniquet was applied (either on the patient's forehead or the tourniquet itself, if there’s a dedicated space for it). Tourniquets can only be used for a maximum of two hours, after which time they can cause irreversible damage to the nerves, tissues, and muscles in the arm or leg.
- The instruction card explains how to apply the tourniquet, wound packing gauze, and emergency trauma dressing. Even if you've taken a Stop the Bleed® course, it can often be hard to think straight in an emergency situation and this card will help.
- The PVC Bleeding Control Patch can be affixed to the carry bag, clothing, or wherever else you would like to display it. This helps people locate the tourniquet kit in a bleeding emergency.
Intermediate and Premium Tourniquet Kits
If you look at the bleeding kits on our website, you’ll notice that there are standard, intermediate, and premium tourniquet kits.
Standard Tourniquet Kit
This kit includes everything on the list above.
This includes everything in the standard kit plus two HyFin® Vent Compact Chest Seals. Vented chest seals are placed over penetrating chest wounds (such as gunshot wounds). Because they are vented, air can escape the chest cavity during exhalation but doesn’t enter from the outside when the person inhales.
Premium tourniquet kits include everything in the standard and intermediate kits with the addition of a hemostatic dressing such as the QuikClot® Bleeding Control Dressing. This gauze contains kaolin, which speeds up the body's natural clotting ability. The hemostatic dressing replaces the regular compressed wound packing gauze that comes in the standard kit.
Types of Tourniquets
Most commercial tourniquets utilize a windlass mechanism to tighten the device until the occlusion pressure is reached. Windlass tourniquets are trusted by the military and healthcare professionals and include the Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T® Tourniquet) and SAM-XT. Both of these tourniquets are on the list of recommended tourniquets published by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care.
Stretch tourniquets, like the SWAT-T, consist of wide rubber bands that are stretched very tight and tucked in to secure the band. These tourniquets are not CoTCCC-approved but are extremely useful for treating children, animals, and adults with a very small limb diameter, for whom regular windlass tourniquets would be too wide.
Stop the Bleed® Kits vs Alternative Bleeding Control Kits
The original Stop the Bleed® kit was developed by the American College of Surgeons for the Department of Defense and was launched by the White House in October 2015. These licensed kits include all of the components listed above with a brand-name "Stop the Bleed®" PVC patch and a CoTCCC-approved tourniquet (they don't come with the option of the stretch-wrap SWAT-T). The premium kit comes with either the QuickClot bleeding control dressing or the NuStat 4x4 hemostatic dressing.
Alternative-brand tourniquet kits include all of the same contents as the licensed Stop the Bleed® kits except that the carry case and PVC patch carry the supplier’s brand name instead of the official "Stop the Bleed®" label. Also, the tourniquet chosen for the kit isn't restricted to the CoTCCC-approved models, and you can opt for the SWAT-T if you choose.
At True Rescue, our premium bleeding control kits come with QuickClot brand hemostatic gauze and don't have the NuStat option. The regular price of an alternative tourniquet kit is usually lower than the price of an official Stop the Bleed® kit, with no difference in efficacy.
Tourniquet Kit vs First Aid Kit
Tourniquet kits are designed for life-threatening bleeding emergencies whereas first aid kits are designed for non-life-threatening burns, cuts, and scrapes. To be prepared, it's best to have both a tourniquet kit and a first aid kit on hand at all times.
How to Purchase a Tourniquet Kit
Anyone can buy a tourniquet kit online or in a first aid supply store. For the protection they provide, these kits are extremely cost-effective. Best of all, tourniquets (with the exception of the SWAT-T) don't expire.
To purchase a tourniquet kit or any of its individual components from True Rescue, simply create or log in to your account, add the items to your cart, and pay with a credit or debit card or an alternative payment method like PayPal or Meta Pay. In less than a week, your very own tourniquet kit will be shipped to your door.
Tourniquet Kits: The Lay Person's Toolkit for Treating Life-Threatening Bleeding
As you've seen, tourniquet kits are simple—just a commercial tourniquet and a few wound-packing accessories. However, when every minute counts, this type of trauma kit has everything you need to stem traumatic bleeding until EMS personnel arrive.
When purchasing a kit, make sure to buy from a reputable supplier so that you know the tourniquet is of high quality (i.e. it works). When it arrives, check to ensure that the components are securely packaged and all accounted for.
If you have the chance, it’s also a great idea to take a Stop the Bleed® course and perform a mock tourniquet application every few months. You never know when a bleeding emergency can happen, and frequent practice will ensure that you're ready to respond.