Know How to Save a Life: Combat Application Tourniquet

Yeah, I know, doesn’t sound too sexy….until you need it, or until you can provide it.  Today I was talking to an avid and very experienced hunter.  We were talking about injury in the field, and he said “Oh yeah, I got shot by my knife”.  When I asked him what the heck he was talking about, he proceeded to tell me one of the most bizarre stories I’ve ever heard.

It was bow season and he took a shot.  His bow string – for lack of a better technical term because I don’t know bows – got caught in his folding knife that was in his breast pocket.  It actually opened the folding knife and proceeded to launch it – like the arrow that was also being launched – into is opposing arm, slicing it wide open, tendons and all.

“Did you have a tourniquet, anything handy to arrest the bleeding?”  I asked.

He went on to tell me that his hunting buddy stuffed an oily rag from the car into the wound but that he was going into shock, and luckily they weren’t too far away from the local hospital.

What happens if a quick ride to the hospital isn’t possible?  What would have happened if he’d been in a much more remote location?  What if help takes longer to get to than you ever anticipated?

ANSWER: Be prepared for the impossible, for the unthinkable.  Knowing a few techniques and having a couple of simple tools can save your life or save a loved one’s life – or a stranger’s if they are lucky enough to have you passing by when the shit hits the fan.

Everyone should have on hand a C-A-T, which stands for a Combat Application Tourniquet. You can get one from Amazon, it’s cheap, and there’s really no excuse not to have one.  It is standard military gear for every soldier because it is extremely easy to use, it’s highly effective, and has saved countless lives since it’s become standard issue.image

My friend was really lucky, he was close to a vehicle, he had a buddy, and he wasn’t too far away from a hospital.  The stars were aligned in his favor that day.  However, the bizarre chain of events that lead to his injury should be a reminder that we should be prepared in the event that “bizarre” lands on our doorstep.

Be prepared and be independently functional!  You might be the “help” that’s needed in an emergency!  It’s exciting and fun to be self-sufficient and effective.  The more we are able to help ourselves and others, the better the end-game is in every scenario!


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