Need a bleeding control kit? Read this first!

Eric Jones

Eric Jones

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Need a bleeding control kit? Read this first!

Need a Bleeding Control Kit? Read before buying

Let’s talk about a topic near and dear to us, bleeding control. This is a topic that has been receiving much exposure over the last five to ten years and for good reason. Life threatening bleeding can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time. For most people, treating life threatening bleeding may be a “low frequency, high risk event”, and that certainly is a good thing. But it can also cause complacency, in that most people believe they may never need a bleeding control kit. As Benjamin Franklin said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. While preventing the injuries that cause life threatening bleeding isn’t always possible, we can recommend training and bleeding control kits to prevent the loss of blood, resulting in shock. Preventing shock (by controlling bleeding) is going to be easier than treating shock. That sure is a long way for me to say a properly stocked bleeding control kit can mean the difference between life and death. Here are some recommendations we have to build or choose your bleeding control kit.

Bleeding Control Kit Loadout

A bleeding control kit is a pre-packaged set of medical supplies and equipment for treating wounds and preventing uncontrolled bleeding. Before you buy or build your kit, we always recommend that you take a bleeding control course. Most of these courses can be found local to you and many times are offered free of charge. Our article is no substitute for actually laying your hands on this equipment and seeing what works best for you. As a disclaimer, just talking about this equipment is not a replacement for adequately training on certain skills like tourniquet application or applying a pressure dressing.

Bleeding Control Station 8 Pack

Before choosing a kit, consider the size and packaging of the kit. Different components of your kit will affect the size. If you choose to carry a 6” pressure dressing vs a 4” pressure dressing that will be a noticeable difference. Most companies offer bleeding control kits in both a nylon pouch or a vacuum sealed configuration. Vacuum sealed pouches are a great cheaper option, but the components are sealed until they are ready to be used.

The most important piece of equipment for your bleeding control kit, is the tourniquet. The only tourniquets we ever recommend to our customers are that of which are recommended by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC). CoTCCC reviews literature and data on equipment and devices to make their recommendations accordingly. You can find CoTCCC recommended devices(CLICK HERE)  on our website. Here are some of the tourniquet options we stock and frequently recommend.

Probably the most widely known tourniquet, you may hear it called the CAT. The newest generation is the Gen 7 (G7). It is an excellent tourniquet and easy to use. The G7 CAT features many improvements over prior generations. The Gen 7 has a larger/thicker windlass and single routing buckle. It also has a grey time band vs the older white time band. Now if you have a G6 CAT that is still a great tourniquet and will absolutely do the job. There are just some extra steps that need to be taken and different applications for self-aid vs buddy-aid. The G6 does not feature a single routing buckle.  

Combat Application Tourniquet |Tourniquets ||Top Rescue Products

The SAM XT is a newer tourniquet but is quickly becoming one of our favorites. While frequent training in tourniquet application is very important, not a lot of people do it. I believe this tourniquet is the easiest to use for individuals who don’t adequately training on tourniquet application. One of the biggest failures when applying a tourniquet is not initially tightening the tourniquet enough (before you start turning the windlass). The SAM XT features an “auto-stop buckle” that requires the user to pull the band tight enough till an audible click is heard and the buckle engages two prongs that captures the tightness of the band. All you have to do is “pull till it clicks” and then finish applying your tourniquet like any other windlass tourniquet.

The new SOF Tourniquet by Tactical Medical Solutions is a solid option for your tourniquet. Some benefits of this option include a smaller more concealable profile vs tourniquets with a self-adhering band (hook and loop). This tourniquet features a webbing strap which Is routed through a rugged buckle. TacMed Solutions has made massive improvements to this device over time. The newest model features a tourniquet retention assistance clip (TRAC) also known as a windlass retaining clip. This tourniquet is more difficult to self-apply than the CAT or SAM XT

SOF Tourniquet |Tourniquets |Top Rescue Products

Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT)

Probably the most widely known tourniquet, you may hear it called the CAT. The newest generation is the Gen 7 (G7). It is an excellent tourniquet and easy to use. The G7 CAT features many improvements over prior generations. The Gen 7 has a larger/thicker windlass and single routing buckle. It also has a grey time band vs the older white time band. Now if you have a G6 CAT that is still a great tourniquet and will absolutely do the job. There are just some extra steps that need to be taken and different applications for self-aid vs buddy-aid. The G6 does not feature a single routing buckle.  

Combat Application Tourniquet |Tourniquets ||Top Rescue Products

SAM Extremity Tourniquet (SAM-XT)

The SAM XT is a newer tourniquet but is quickly becoming one of our favorites. While frequent training in tourniquet application is very important, not a lot of people do it. I believe this tourniquet is the easiest to use for individuals who don’t adequately training on tourniquet application. One of the biggest failures when applying a tourniquet is not initially tightening the tourniquet enough (before you start turning the windlass). The SAM XT features an “auto-stop buckle” that requires the user to pull the band tight enough till an audible click is heard and the buckle engages two prongs that captures the tightness of the band. All you have to do is “pull till it clicks” and then finish applying your tourniquet like any other windlass tourniquet.

SAM XT | Tourniquet | Tactical Medical Products

SOF-Tourniquet

The new SOF Tourniquet by Tactical Medical Solutions is a solid option for your tourniquet. Some benefits of this option include a smaller more concealable profile vs tourniquets with a self-adhering band (hook and loop). This tourniquet features a webbing strap which Is routed through a rugged buckle. TacMed Solutions has made massive improvements to this device over time. The newest model features a tourniquet retention assistance clip (TRAC) also known as a windlass retaining clip. This tourniquet is more difficult to self-apply than the CAT or SAM XT.

SOF Tourniquet |Tourniquets |Top Rescue Products

 

Pressure Dressings

There are many commercial pressure dressings out there to choose from. While CoTCCC does not make recommendations on pressure dressings, I will discuss what dressings you are most likely to see. There are a couple different styles of pressure dressings. Some dressings include a pressure applicator/bar, and some do not. There are also some unique options like the AirWrap from RevMedX. This pressure dressing uses and inflatable bladder that is sewn into an ACE wrap style dressing.

Emergency Trauma Bandage (ETB/Israeli Bandage)

This dressing includes a pressure bar and comes in 4″ and 6″ wide versions. This dressing is able to be self-applied.

 

Emergency Trauma Bandage (ETB) 6"

OLAES Bandage

It comes in as a 4” and 6” dressing and features a “pressure cup”. There is also gauze within the dressing that could be used for wound packing.

 

OLAES Modular BandageOLAES Modular Bandage

Emergency Trauma Dressing (ETD)

These dressings come in 4” and 6” sizes and does not feature a pressure applicator. To apply pressure, simply twist the bandage while you are wrapping over the wound till you achieve proper tightness.

Emergency Trauma Dressing (ETD) Abddominal

SWAT-T

  • It is designed as an adaptable tourniquet. It is not a CoTCCC recommended tourniquet but it does come in handy in certain circumstances. Can be used as a tourniquet and is great for smaller limbs and K9 use. Careful thought, it can be slippery when it gets wet.

Hemostatic Agents or Compressed Gauze?

Hemostatic agents (Combat Gauze, Celox, Chitosan, etc.) and compressed gauze are typically used for packing wounds that are not amenable to a tourniquet (junctions). Hemostatic agents include additives which will promote clotting to stop the bleeding. Learn more about how they work in a later article. Not everyone opts to carry hemostatic agents for a couple of reasons; they are expensive, have a 5-year shelf life, and require training to be proficient in wound packing. If you choose to use a hemostatic agent in your kit we recommend Z-Fold dressings. here are some that we recommend

Combat Gauze

3 Minutes of Direct Pressure

 

Combat Gauze or Combat Gauze LE (civilian version) are the same dressing using the same additive, just in different packages. Contains Kaolin to promote clotting. Kaolin works on the intrinsic clotting pathway. To be effective this is best used on a patient without any clotting deficiencies. 

Combat Gauze LE|Hemostatic Agent |Top Rescue Products

 

 

 

Celox and Celox Rapid

Celox: 3 Minutes of Direct Pressure

Celox Rapid: 1 Minute of Direct Pressure

Celox products contain a proprietary composition which includes the common additive Chitosan. Chitosan works on both the intrinsic and extrinsic clotting pathways. Studies have shown Chitosan based dressings to be more effective in anti-coagulated patients.

MARCH Celox Rapid Z-Fold

ChitoSAM100

3 Minutes of Direct Pressure

 

ChitoSAM 100 is a new product from SAM Medical. It is a Chitosan based dressing.

ChitoSAM100

 

If you decide not to carry a hemostatic agent there are a couple options for compressed gauze. Compressed gauze will typically come rolled or z-folded. We would recommend North American Rescue’s Wound packing gauze. It is z-folded in an easy to open package, it also features a radio-opaque line like many hemostatic agents so it will be visible on hospital imaging. We usually recommend carrying at least two wound packing gauze in your kit.

Additional Items

Here is a list of additional items we recommend for your kit

Mini Tape

We recommend a roll of tape. Whether it be 2″ surgical tape or mini duct tape it, it comes in handy. 

Trauma Shears

A set of trauma shears is important. When placing tourniquets (outside of a hostile environment) they go 2-3″ above the wound ON BARE SKIN! Removing the clothing will also decrease the chances of the tourniquet inadvertantly getting “popped” at the hospital.

XShear Trauma Shears 7.5" Heavy Duty -Black | First Aid | Top Rescue Products

Mylar Blanket

To prevent hypothermia. They are small, and cheap, and provide a little bit of passive warming. Although to be truly effective active warming is also needed, hopefully by prehospital providers.

Elastic Bandage/ACE Wrap

Cheap and it can come in handy as a pressure dressing or wrapping junctional injuries.

4" Elastic Bandage W/ Self Closure | First Aid | J5 Rescue Supply LLC

Permanent Marker

Documentation is important. Not only documenting that an intervention, like a tourniquet, was done, but also the time it was applied. This positively effects continuity of care. J5 Rescue Supply includes a mini permanant marker with all tourniquet purchases.

Conclusion

In summary, a bleeding control kit is something most people think they will be fine without. In reality, it can make the biggest difference when there is severe bleeding, and it doesn’t just happen from acts of violence. Preparedness in all aspects is important, and at a minimum carrying, and frequently training with a CoTCCC recommended tourniquet will provide that ounce of prevention. If you are local to us, check out our Bleeding Control Course. If you are not local to us, we will be happy to assist in finding you a course close to you.

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