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0059-23 STB - SB - A Tourniquet is a Tourniquet_Thumb

Smyth Busters: Is There a Difference Between Tourniquets?

Author Caleb Savant
10 months ago
Caleb and Steve are joined by Chris Hoyne from North American Rescue to take on a very relevant myth for National Stop the Bleed Month, which is May, when we're releasing this video. That myth is: A tourniquet is a tourniquet. There's no difference between them. If you have to stop serious bleeding from an extremity, any tourniquet will get the job done just fine. True? Not true? Chris is a retired firefighter-paramedic, who also served as a medic on a SWAT team, so if anybody can answer this question authoritatively, he's our man!
Chris is holding NAR's Combat Application Tourniquet, which is a genuine U.S. Army approved Gen 7 tourniquet. You may find Internet sellers offering cheaper tourniquets that look like the CAT..... but if the price is way lower, they're probably counterfeits. Do you want to risk a life - possibly your own - on a tourniquet of uncertain origin that may fail to do the job it's designed for? You cannot necessarily recognize a counterfeit by looking at it because the counterfeiters are very good at copying the original right down to all its markings. The best way to find out if somebody offering an NAR CAT is an authorized reseller is to check North American Rescue's website. Chris shares a cautionary story about counterfeit CATs sent to Ukraine by well-meaning Americans.
NAR has changed their CAT design over the years. If you have an older model, it'll work just fine. Tourniquets don't have an expiration date. Chris explains some of the changes made to the Combat Application Tourniquet over the years. Make sure any tourniquet you get is approved by the American College of Surgeons for the Stop the Bleed program. For more info on STB, go to
What can go wrong if you get a bad tourniquet? For example, if the windlass - the bar you twist to tighten the tourniquet - is made of substandard material and it breaks, you cannot properly tighten the tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
The problem with makeshift / improvised tourniquets (for example, your belt) is that they don't work very well, and they typically can't be applied with ONE hand. If you can't stop the bleeding FAST, the victim is going to bleed out and die. A proper, military-style CAT tourniquet applies the correct pressure to stop the bleeding in time with minimal risk of tissue damage.
So the myth is BUSTED: tourniquets are NOT all the same. Don't use a substandard tourniquet or an improvised one. Get a proper CAT tourniquet from a reputable seller.