TacMed Tip #3- SOFTT-W Tourniquet Self Application

Tourniquet Self Application

Hopefully, by this point, we don’t need to discuss if arterial tourniquets are safe or effective. Something I wanted to discuss and demonstrate is the self-application of the SOFTT-W Tourniquet. This blog is only really relevant for those working in tactical or high threat environments. Sorry non-tac people…..

As most people are aware, the SOFTT-W is one of the two tourniquets recommended by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (the other being the CAT). It is an excellent tourniquet for a number of reasons, but there is always a lot of discussion on the self-application of the SOFTT-W when comparing to the CAT.

We are strong advocates of people working in the tactical environment(both military and law enforcement) being confident and competent in applying a tourniquet to themselves single handed. This skill may save their life one day. BUT…. In playing the devil’s advocate, it’s my view that too many people place too much emphasis on single handed self-application. This needs to be taken into context and here are a few points:

  • To even consider a single handed self-application, your tourniquet needs to be accessible. If you can’t reach or access the tourniquet with both hands, then you definitely can’t apply it single handed. Military people are generally good at tourniquet carriage but Police, if you’re storing your tourniquet on the rear of your body armour, on one side of your duty belt or in your car/duty bag then you need to reconsider your carriage.
  • Tourniquets have to be removed from the plastic wrapping. Imagine being shot and having to try and unwrap the plastic from the tourniquet to apply it. A good nylon or kydex pouch will protect your tourniquet from the elements but ensure it is accessible.
  • Self-application to an upper limb is rare. Some studies suggest around 1% in the combat setting.

In regards to the self-application of the SOFTT-W, here are a few of our tips:

  1. Lean on a wall, the floor or a vehicle ect to support the TQ while you remove the slack. You won’t be standing around an office or classroom casually applying it in real life. Train how you fight.
  2. If your injury allows, use your face/chin to support the TQ on your arm whilst you remove slack.
  3. Always place the TQ on your arm with the tail facing towards your chest.
  4. Have the windlass on the inside of your arm. This will allow the TQ to be locked a lot easier.

Watch the video below for more on the application and tips!

Also, the manufacturer of the SOFTT-W, Tactical Medical Solutions, have just released an improvement to the buckle of the SOFTT-W that will make single-handed application easier! We’ll do an updated video when we get the new version.


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