Tourniquets could save critically injured shooting victims

Trauma surgeon explains how tourniquets and trained volunteers could save tens of lives

After the mass shooting in Orlando, many of the 49 victims died of heavy bleeding due to the gunshot wounds. But it seems that in a life-or-death situation there can be help from an ancient medical device that could make the difference: the tourniquet.

According to Dr. Jay Doucet, a trauma surgeon and the director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at the University of California San Diego Health System, in situations like this, tourniquets could stop massive bleeding and give the victims an extra chance to live before they reach the ER units, as 97% of the people who get to the hospital alive usually make it through the gunshot.

The maneuvers to apply the tourniquets can be explained during CPR courses, in offices, schools or colleges. This way, people can be trained to address an emergency situation and respond better to incidents like the one in Orlando. “The problem now is drilling to down to individual citizens, what can individuals do to improve survival until help arrives”, Dr. Jay Doucet commented.

Tourniquets can be tailored out of almost any material: leather belts or bands, shoelaces, nylon straps with a buckle or pen-like rods. With the “Stop the Bleed” campaign, launched by the White House and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians emergency courses, ordinary citizens can learn how to stop blood loss from major wounds by using tourniquets and blood-clotting bandages useful for trauma care routine.