This is a reprint of an article I wrote for www.TheGunShowRadio.com, slightly edited for this reader group.
We all know that bad things can happen, fast! There could be a shooting during a home invasion or a car wreck or little Boy Blue could fall out of a tree, or any of a number of different injuries that occur to you or in front of you. Regardless a proper first aid kit is needed. This article and any follow-up are not intended to replace training. There are many classes and ways to learn about first aid and especially first aid for puncture wounds (gun shots, knife stabs, and sticks going through a person). Some classes cost, some are free, it is my suggestion that you take every class you can as often as you can. After reading my articles on CERT and Citizens Corps, you probably noticed that I mentioned ways and places to learn first aid in them.
It is my personal belief that we should all be carrying a medical kit every day. I am not talking about an ER Room on wheels or even what the EMT carries on an ambulance, what I am referring to are the basic tools to keep you or your loved one alive after a traumatic event. One “trauma” kit should be on your body, a larger kit is easy to build and can be kept in your vehicle for easy access on the road with a more in-depth kit kept at home. Before you sigh and mentally skip over this article, let’s just take it one piece of equipment at a time.
According to the United States Military, 2/3 of battlefield preventable deaths are related to bleeding of the extremities. When there is a delay in care such as being on the range, or on the lake, delays in care are literally a life and death situation. What if you could reduce the chance of death due to bleeding?
Many quality first aid kits will have a tourniquet, an elastic bandage (think ACE wrap) and a pressure dressing; three critical items if someone is bleeding out. The only problem with these items is they take up valuable space. If you have a backpack, tackle box or just a small grab and go bag full of medical supplies, how much time is it going to take you to dig through and get to any item you need? Once you find the item, do you remember how much to tighten a tourniquet? Do you need a tourniquet or a pressure dressing? Since most of us have very little medical training, we need to have what is simple, repeatable and dependable.
The SWAT-T is a tool that meets our needs in this case. SWAT-T stands for Stretch, Wrap and Tuck Tourniquet. It is one item that replaces three (tourniquet, Ace wrap and pressure dressing) this saves room in your medical bag and weight if you carry medical supplies in your vehicle. The SWAT-T was developed by a former Operator/Medic with 14 years of experience in Operational Medicine -former USAF Para rescue Journeyman (Para-Jumper or PJ), Contractor DoJ/FBI SWAT Operations, National Registry Paramedic, and Emergency Medicine Physician.
I learned about this neat device at one of the preparing trade shows that came to Springfield in 2012. My wife, a nurse, was with me and together we looked at, touched, prodded and inspected the SWAT-T, after hearing the gentleman’s spiel we thanked him and walked off, as we continued on our way, we talked about the SWAT-T and how it could reduce what was in our medical kits in the vehicles, at the house and in our range bags (notice 4 locations of medical supplies, combine that with the 3 items mentioned and you can see we have the cost, bulk and complication of 12 products). We finished walking down the row we were on and decided to go back to the booth selling them. I asked some hard questions and my wife tested the SWAT-T on herself and our daughter, yes this device can easily be used on yourself. We bought four.
As the image above shows, the SWAT-T is very simple to use, right on the wrap are the directions, the more you stretch (tighten) the wrap the more you move from a wrap to a pressure dressing to a tourniquet. This is great for those of us who rarely if ever need to use our medical training or lack there of.
Now to be totally honest, we did not remove our tourniquets, wraps and pressure bandages from our house or vehicle kits. We just added the SWAT-T, now we will be able to help more people in an incident. I did pull those items out of my shooting bag and put the SWAT-T in, reducing bulk and weight in the bag. If it is needed on a gun range, most likely, a negligent discharge would only affect one person.
Here are some uses for the SWAT-T
Tourniquet: A tourniquet is to be applied when bleeding is severe (arterial) and loss of life is of greatest concern. With a SWAT-T I was able to put it higher up on my groin and further under my armpit than I was able to with my C-A-T (Combat Application Tourniquet). In most patients tourniquets have proven to be safe for a minimum of two hours, and for up to 6 hours without problems. When used properly all tourniquets may cause loss of limb. This is a necessary risk, to bring patients home at the end of the day.
Pressure Dressing: The SWAT-T can and should be used as a pressure dressing. It can be used for hemorrhage is control or for venous and capillary oozing. Place your sterile dressing (or standard gauze) then wrap the SWAT-T around the extremity. You can then tuck the end of the SWAT-T under itself, which will maintain pressure on the wound (preventing further contamination and re-bleeding). If the endpoints are met on the dressing you may have a tourniquet (you wrapped it too tight) and should check for good blood return in the extremity (pulse and capillary refill -press on the tips of the fingers or toes at then end of the wrap)> If you don’t, you risk the complications associated with all tourniquets, loss of the limb. Pressure dressings should be left in place until those trained in wound management (EMT, ER Staff…) can take a look at the wound.
Elastic Bandage: The SWAT-T can and should be used as an elastic bandage (example: ACE Wrap). Use the dressing to hold ice near sprains and strains, stabilize a twisted knee/ankle, or to sling a shoulder. The dressing can also be used to loosely apply pressure across the chest or abdomen. This can be to help close and protect wounds, contain abdominal contents in evisceration (cut open gut), or to assist in stabilization of the pelvis in blunt pelvic trauma. The SWAT-T can be used to splint an extremity to the body, other leg, or to a rigid object for immobilization.
Now you might be saying to yourself, “Ok, this is a great product, but how much is this going to set me back? When something this valuable comes along the price is out of my range.” Well, you would be wrong. I paid $9 each for mine. That is right, just $9! A tourniquet cost more than that. Now you might not be able to get such a deal however a quick look on Amazon and they were $9.45. A great price on a product that literally will save your life.
Until we meet again have a great Thanksgiving and a trauma free week.