A tourniquet is a medical device used in the event of serious bleeding to temporarily stop the flow of blood by exerting pressure on an artery or vein. Its use is rare and extreme, reserved for emergency situations where other measures fail. Proper training is essential to avoid potential complications. The tourniquet must not be maintained for long, and medical intervention is required.


Dressing description

A tourniquet is a medical device designed to temporarily stop the flow of blood in an artery or vein by exerting firm pressure around a limb or part of the body. This is considered an extreme measure in first aid care and should only be used in very specific and emergency situations, usually in cases of severe bleeding that cannot be controlled by other means.


It's essential to understand that incorrect application of a tourniquet can lead to serious complications, including tissue damage, circulatory problems, nerve injuries and potential amputations. That's why it's crucial to receive proper first aid training before using a tourniquet. Here's how a tourniquet works, and in what situations it may be needed:

  • How it works: A tourniquet usually consists of a wide, flat strip of cloth or similar material, which is wrapped around the affected limb. It is then tightened to exert pressure on the blood vessels, thereby reducing or stopping blood flow to the injured area.
  • Specific use: The situations in which a tourniquet may be necessary are rare, as it is a measure of last resort. It may be considered when bleeding is so severe as to be life-threatening, and other means, such as direct compression, fail to control it.
  • Limited time: A tourniquet should never be applied for too long, as it can cause permanent damage. It is crucial to note the time at which the tourniquet was applied, and to loosen it periodically to allow a brief restoration of blood flow to the affected area.
  • Monitoring: A person with a tourniquet must be closely monitored to avoid complications. Immediate medical intervention is required to assess the severity of the injury and determine the need to remove the tourniquet or perform additional medical measures.


In short, a tourniquet is an extreme medical device used to temporarily stop blood flow in an emergency situation, in the event of severe bleeding that cannot be controlled by other means. The application of a tourniquet must be carried out with care, and proper training is essential to know when and how to use it correctly. Its use must be limited in time, and medical intervention is required to assess and treat the injury as soon as possible.


Use of the dressing

Equipment required

  • A tourniquet (a wide elastic band, belt, strip of cloth or other strong material)
  • A device to hold the tourniquet in place (such as a stick or pen)
  • Stopwatch or watch


Step 1: Assess the situation

  • Before applying a tourniquet, assess the situation to determine whether it is really necessary. A tourniquet should only be used when bleeding is severe, the person's life is in danger, and other means of controlling bleeding (direct pressure, elevating the wound) have failed or are not possible.


Step 2: Preparation

  • Wash your hands thoroughly if possible, or use clean disposable gloves if you have them. Make sure you have the necessary equipment to hand.


Step 3: Tourniquet placement

  • Place the tourniquet over the wound area, between the wound and the heart. The tourniquet can be placed on a limb (arm or leg) or around the neck if the wound is on one end.


Step 4: Insert a holding device

  • Insert a holding device, such as a stick or pen, under the tourniquet. The idea is to turn this device to tighten the tourniquet later.


Step 5: Apply pressure

  • Slowly turn the holding device to tighten the tourniquet. Apply enough pressure to stop the bleeding, but not too much to avoid causing tissue damage. This should be done until the bleeding stops completely.


Step 6: Securing the tourniquet

  • Secure the holding device in place to maintain pressure on the tourniquet. You can use tape or any other available material to do this.


Step 7: Timing

  • Note the time at which the tourniquet was applied. It's essential not to leave a tourniquet in place for too long, as this can lead to complications. The recommended limit is generally 1 to 2 hours, depending on medical guidelines.


Step 8: Seek medical assistance

  • Once the tourniquet is in place, call emergency medical services immediately. A tourniquet should never be left in place for an extended period, as it can cause tissue damage. Medical professionals should manage the injury as soon as possible.


It's essential to remember that applying a tourniquet should be a measure of last resort in the event of severe bleeding, and should be done with caution. A poorly applied tourniquet can cause permanent damage, so it's crucial to get medical help as soon as possible. Proper first-aid training is essential for using a tourniquet safely.

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Version 2023.