Why Should I Have A Tourniquet?

No one wants to be at the center of a medical emergency. But accidents, natural disasters, and shootings happen – and they happen without warning. Emergency situations like these turn average citizens into first responders in an instant. Being prepared could be all that you need to save a life.

When a traumatic injury on an arm or leg leads to rapid blood loss, a properly applied tourniquet is the most important piece of equipment you can have. A tourniquet will safely limit the amount of blood the victim will lose before receiving hospital treatment.

Types of Bleeding


Arterial Bleeding

– Spurting or pulsating blood –
– Bright red color –

Potentially Life-Threatening

Venous Bleeding

– Steady slow flow –
– Dark red color –

Not Life-Threatening

Capillary Bleeding

– Slow trickle –

Caring for Someone with
Life-Threatening Bleeding
from a Limb

Step 1:

Call 9-1-1 or the designated emergency number immediately.

Step 2:

Apply direct pressure (with or without gauze). If this fails or is not practical, a tourniquet should be used.

Step 3:

When might direct pressure not be practical?
• Are there multiple people with life-threatening injuries who need care?
• Are there multiple traumatic injuries requiring attention in addition to bleeding?
• Is the scene unsafe or does it become unsafe?
• Is the injured person or their limb trapped in a confined space, making the wound inaccessible?
If the answer to any of these four questions is YES, a tourniquet should be applied.

How to Use the American Red Cross SOF® Tourniquet

Tourniquets can be painful. If you must apply a tourniquet, make sure the person understands the reason for the tourniquet and warn the person that it might be painful.


Cut or remove clothing so that the tourniquet is applied to bare skin.


Place tourniquet about 2 inches above the wound, not on a joint.

Tourniquet Application


Applying the Tourniquet:

Slide Over Limb

Slide Over Limb

Pull Tail Tight

Pull Tail Tight

Twist Handle

Twist Handle until Flow of Bright Red Blood Stops

Lock In Triangle

Lock in Triangle

Note Time

Note Time

Applying the Tourniquet if Unable To Slide Over Limb – FOLLOW STEPS 1b-3b:



Go Around Limb

Go Around Limb

Connect Buckle Go To Step 2-3

Connect Buckle, Then Go To Step 2

If bleeding restarts or the tourniquet is ineffective, apply more pressure and tighten the tourniquet, but do not remove it.

Continue to care for the person. Monitor for shock until EMS personnel arrive.


American Red Cross Tourniquet© Copyright 2021 - TacMed Solutions™
*Official Licensed Product of the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross name and logo are registered trademarks of The American National Red Cross.
Manufactured by TacMed Solutions™, LLC, 1250 Harris Bridge Road, Anderson, SC, USA 29621. The TacMed Solutions™ name and logo are registered trademarks of TacMed Solutions™, LLC. Contact us at info@tacmedsolutions.com or 888-822-6331.