Tourniquets . Instruments that only serve for injuries to the arms and legs. They are used to prevent the victim from losing a lot of blood and being left in shock. The tourniquet pressure should be relieved periodically to avoid tissue damage due to lack of oxygen. The use of these was first documented on battlefields in 1674 .


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  • 1 Definition
  • 2 Controversy
  • 3 Correct use
  • 4 tourniquets misapplied
  • 5 How to make and apply a tourniquet during first aid
  • 6 Tips on its application
  • 7 Bibliography
  • 8 Sources


Instrument for compressing a blood vessel or the circulation, in general, of a member, which is applied around it, in order to stop the circulation and prevent the flow of blood to or from the distal region. Tourniquets are of various kinds. The tourniquet can be improvised in an emergency with a rag strip, with a loop through which a short pole is inserted to twist the loop.


Tourniquets have a bad reputation in the area of ​​emergency first aid. Complications in the use of this have led to serious tissue damage. The victims treated with tourniquets have suffered amputations of their limbs attributable to its use.

That does not mean that the turnstiles do not work. Rather, they can stop bleeding quite well and are certainly useful in cases of severe bleeding that cannot be stopped in any other way.

They are popular on the battlefields, as they can be applied quickly, and when one has been put in place, constant monitoring is not necessary, even allowing wounded soldiers to remain conscious and protect themselves.

Correct use

These only work if they are tight enough to stop blood flow from the arteries. Arterial blood is under much more pressure than venous blood, and more pressure is needed to stop it. The tourniquets should not be too tight, or they could cut the tissues from the applied pressure. Unfortunately, the wider the tourniquet, the greater the pressure required to stop blood flow.

Generally speaking, turnstiles should be between 2.5 and 5 centimeters wide. The tourniquets on the leg will have to be narrower than those on the arm, because more pressure is needed to stop blood flow in the leg.

Tourniquets should always be the last resort. They should be used only when there is no other way to stop the bleeding. This may be because other methods of controlling bleeding do not work, or because other methods of controlling bleeding cannot be carried out safely.

Poorly applied turnstiles

Tourniquets that are applied too loosely can actually make bleeding worse. If the tourniquet only stops the venous return of blood, but does not stop the blood flow in the artery, the bleeding will become stronger below the tourniquet.

The turnstiles should not be removed by untrained rescuers. Leaving a tourniquet in place for a long time can cause tissue damage, but removing it can lead to more serious bleeding. The possibility of losing a limb is offset by the possibility of losing your life. Tourniquets can be a lifesaver if used correctly.

How to make and apply a tourniquet during first aid

  • Put on latex gloves to minimize the risk of transmitting an illness.
  • Determine if a tourniquet is necessary.
  • Gather these materials: a scarf or tie and a stick that won’t break. If there are no clubs available, use the most similar.
  • Fold the scarf in half, from corner to corner, if you use a tie do not do this step. (The goal is to form a right triangle, as ties naturally are, while scarves are square.)
  • Grab the corners that form the long side of the triangle and fold it 6 to 9 centimeters to the third corner.
  • Fold over and over again this way until you have reached the third corner. You should now be 7 to 10 centimeters wide and several layers thick.
  • Tie the bandage with gauze around the corresponding limb between the wound and the heart (the trunk of the body), as close to the wound as possible, but above the knee or elbow. Use a simple knot (the same one we do in the first stage of tying a shoe).
  • Place the stick on top of the knot and tie a second knot on the stick.
  • Rotate the stick until the bandage stretches tight enough to stop the bleeding.
  • Tie the ends of the bandage around the limb and secure the stick with gauze.
  • Write down what time the tourniquet was performed and leave it in plain view for the doctors treating the person to know.
  • Splint the wound area to prevent movement, which could restart bleeding.
  • Transfer the injured person as quickly as possible to a hospital. If the hospital is more than an hour away, check the bleeding every 10 minutes slowly by loosening the tourniquet to see if clotting has stopped the bleeding. If so, clean and bandage the wound. If not, re-tighten the tourniquet and check again every 10 minutes.

Tips on your application

  • The tourniquet is to be applied between the wound and the heart. If possible, rope, wire or other fine objects that can “cut” when compressing should not be used; the usual thing is to use a folded handkerchief or something similar with sufficient width (approximately 5 cm.).
  • After placing the tourniquet and until the victim is treated at a healthcare center, it should be loosened a little, to allow blood flow to the rest of the affected limb, at least every 15 to 20 minutes, retightening again.


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