CAT Tourniquet

A tourniquet is a piece of medical equipment that puts sufficient pressure on blood vessels to stop major arterial bleeding following severe trauma. These days a tourniquet is standard issue for British soldiers on active service and the standard issue example is called the ‘Combat Application Tourniquet’ or CAT:imageThis tourniquet, which saw extensive use in Iraq and Afghanistan, was revolutionary when it was introduced in 2006 as it allowed the injured soldier to apply the tourniquet to himself simply and easily for the first time. A medical study reported:

Four years continuous UK military experience in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003-7 was analysed for the impact of tourniquets in first aid. 107 tourniquets were applied to 70 patients. Most applications (64/70 patients) occurred after 2006, when tourniquets were issued to individual soldiers. 87% (61/70) survived their injuries.

The CAT tourniquet is an American product that uses a windlass to apply pressure to the effected region of the body:imageThe tourniquet is passed around the limb and tightened by pulling the end through a plastic buckle as far as it will go:imageThe plastic windlass is then twisted to increase the pressure, plastic hooks hold it in place one it is tightened, with a Velcro strap over the top securing it:imageThis Velcro strap is white and has a space to write the time the tourniquet was applied- it is vital to know how long it has been applied to prevent tissue damage from blood deprivation:imageThe following diagram shows in detail how to use the tourniquet:tourniquet-cat-3This particular example dates from 2012:imageAnd was manufactured in the US, hence the NSN number:imageThese tourniquets have become ubiquitous in both British and US military service and soldiers’ faith in them is so high that some have taken to wearing them, loosely tightened, around their limbs before going into combat. All troops are trained in their use and it is typical for them to be carried in the pocket or on the front of MOLLE vests so they are readily available in combat.

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