Let's face it, we conceal carry our firearm because of the small chance we might need to use it to defend ourselves or our loved ones. However, few people carry tourniquets...and you have a higher chance of having to use one of those than your firearm.
Tourniquets can come in handy in many different situations such as car accidents, chopping wood, mass shootings...I could go on forever. So it is important to have something available that has the ability to save more lives than your firearm.
Below, I will outline the options you have for tourniquets, the importance of an IFAK, and the training that is needed for both.
I am not a medical professional. It is important to get proper training and practice using any medical device in this article. Near the end of the article we will provide options to get the training you need.
While there are many types of tourniquets on the market, there are two that I believe are the best options...and I carry them both in different fashions. The C-A-T tourniquet and the R.A.T.S. tourniquet each have their own place and purpose...and it depends on the situation.
Both of these tourniquets can be applied with one hand, which in many situations might be necessary.
The Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T) had its combat introduction by the U.S. Army in 2005. According to the creators, it "has decreased the mortality rate due to extreme exsanguination by 85%". This is probably the most popular tourniquet today, and it's for a good reason. It has proven itself capable of saving lives.
This tourniquet is a true one-handed tourniquet proven to be 100% effective by the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research. I keep this one in my range bag, at home, and in my vehicle. It is my go to tourniquet (not that I have had to use it yet).
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The Rapid Application Tourniquet System (R.A.T.S.) was invented and patented by a 28 year Special Forces Medic with multiple combat trauma experiences. It is extremely fast to apply and easy to use.
Generally, I have both the R.A.T.S and the C-A-T available to me at most times. However, there are two situations that I would carry a R.A.T.S. tourniquet over the C-A-T.
- It is easy to carry: The size is compact and much easier to carry on my person in my EDC (Everyday Carry). It can easily fit in any pocket of my pants.
- For small children and pets: Due to its design, this tourniquet is much easier to use on small children and pets. With three kids of my own, I decided to keep a few of these around...just in case.
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Training is very important for firearms...and tourniquets and medical training are no different. If you are going to carry them, you better know how to use them.
There are many options to learn how to use tourniquets. Below we will list different options for training, however, we advise you take advantage of all of them.
Just like you should take training courses for shooting, you should make sure to take at least a few medical courses as well. Your local range will usually have information on where/when classes are available. You can also check with your local hospitals. Look for first responder type courses and sign up.
Make sure to take a friend or family member. Not only will it make the class more fun, it will help to ensure that you are not the only one trained. This is also vital should the time come that you are the one in need of assistance.
Videos and Books
Sure, the classes should be the first option. However, learning from videos and books that come from credible sources is much better than no training at all and makes a great addition to formal classes. Finding the credible sources is the important part.
A great resource to have is this book and video combo pack "Treating Gunshot Wounds & Other Traumatic Injuries" and "Emergency First Aid Fundamentals". These two resources together will cover most injuries you will see. Not only is it an inexpensive option, it also comes with FREE shipping!
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While this option is the cheapest (FREE), it also must be done after you gain the knowledge from the above mentioned sources. So do one or both of the above and then practice.
Practicing helps serve three purposes:
- Gives real world application: Reading and watching is one thing, but putting it into action is another. Get hands on practice.
- Helps to solidify the knowledge you have gained: This will help keep the information fresh in your brain. We don't want you to go and attempt to apply your tourniquet and then forget a step because it has been 2 years since you learned it.
- Can simulate pressure: While nothing will be able to fully simulate what you will experience when the time comes to perform treatment, you can get a taste of the stress. There are many ways you can do this, most of which you are taught in classes.
Basic Instruction Videos
The below videos are just the basic understanding of how to use the C-A-T and R.A.T.S tourniquets. We still recommend actual training.
C-A-T One Handed Application
C-A-T Two Handed Application
R.A.T.S. Tourniquet Application
Along with your tourniquet, it is a good idea to also have an IFAK...or "Individual First Aid Kit". I have already done an article on the IFAK/Trauma Kit for Concealed Carry. However, it is important to remember to have access to these whenever possible. I keep one in my bag that I carry with me most times I leave the house. Other good places to keep an IFAK is in your car, at the office, or at your home.
In my other article I recommended the Echo Sigma Compact Trauma Kit from Brownells. This is a great kit to have. However, if you want to go for the bare minimum to go along with your tourniquet check out this Adventure Medical Kits Trauma Pak. It may be far from the quality of the Echo Sigma, but it will be a start, and is much better than nothing at all.
Remember, just as with the tourniquet, make sure you get training for the items in your IFAK. The book and video combo I mentioned above covers most items that can be found in an IFAK, and certainly any respectable class will cover them as well.
While choosing and buying your tourniquets are important, getting the training that you need is just as important. Take some classes, learn from credible books and videos, and practice.
Bringing together your tourniquet, your IFAK, and your training will make you ready, should the need arise, to save a life...maybe even your own!
Need other items to join your Concealed Carry package? Make sure to check out our Recommended Gear page!
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