Section II. APPLYING A TOURNIQUET
DETERMINING IF A TOURNIQUET IS REQUIRED
A tourniquet is a constricting band placed around an extremity to stop arterial
bleeding by stopping blood circulation to the part of the limb below (distal to) the
tourniquet. A tourniquet is only used on an arm or leg where there is a danger of the
casualty bleeding to death.
A tourniquet is not used for wounds to the head, neck, or trunk
(chest and abdominal area).
a. Wound on an Extremity. Bleeding from a major artery of the thigh, lower
leg, or arm and bleeding from multiple arteries may prove to be beyond control by the
methods discussed in Section I. If the pressure dressing under firm hand pressure
becomes soaked with blood and the wound continues to bleed, apply a tourniquet.
The tactical situation may not allow the time or safety for conventional
methods of controlling the bleeding. The recommended means to control
bleeding in a tactical environment while under fire is a rapidly applied
tourniquet. Once you and the casualty have reached safety, consider
loosening the tourniquet (do not remove the tourniquet) and using direct
pressure and/or a pressure dressing to control the hemorrhage. If the
tourniquet has been in place for more than 6 hours, do not remove the
If you are unable to control bleeding except with a tourniquet,
it is better to sacrifice a limb than to lose a life
due to excessive bleeding.
(1) An amputation may be complete (the limb is completely severed) or
partial (the two parts of the limb remain connected by some skin). Both require a
tourniquet. Both involve bleeding from multiple arteries and are beyond control by the
methods discussed in Section I.