- The tourniquet is ALREADY around the limb. By integrating them into the pants and shirts, BlackHawk completely worked around--or more specifically under--the gear problem. No matter what the warrior puts on, he's putting it on OVER the ITS.
- The tourniquet doesn't have to be carried, then delivered, and then secured. No more does the medic have to worry about whether or not he has enough tourniquets in his kit or if he can get them to the injured troop in time. Eight of them (pants and shirt total) are already there.
- Because of their design, application/activation can be performed with one hand in less than fifteen seconds (with practice). I've seen the surgeon who designed them do it in about six seconds.
So, the pants have four tourniquets: one high on each thigh--where it can do the most good, locking down the femoral artery if that gets hit (everyone saw the scenes in Blackhawk Down?) and one in the calf area. That lower one can be adjusted for height placement simply by pulling the pants leg up higher before activating it. The designer did that on purpose because, as anyone who has had any level of first responder medical training knows, the closer you get the tourniquet to the injury--just "above" on the heart side--the more of the limb you save if things go real ugly.
And speaking of activation...BlackHawk anticipates delivering each pair of pants and each shirt with a package insert that shows--in about five simple steps--how to easily activate the tourniquets. Essentially you expose them (lift a flap), turn them over (flip them to get the windlass rod on the outside), pull the running end of the fire-retardant nylon strap to snug it up, turn the windlass to tighten the tourniquet, and then lock it into place.
Now, as easy as that sounds, think about doing it while wounded, in a confined space, while wearing all your kit. Admittedly, it's better to have it already in place and ready to go than to have to dig your way to your leg (or arm) to put a tourniquet on. All I'm saying is that it's a lot easier to say (or type) than to do under stress and in pain. It's far better than the option of potentially bleeding to death.
Understand that the photos shown are NOT pictures of the final product. BlackHawk has taken the ITS through several design changes and is working on what is expected to be the final version (or close to it) now. These photos are of a prototype version and are shown here for the purpose of introducing the product line. At present, BlackHawk expects to launch the product at SHOT Show '08.
And while we'll all wait for that, use the time to consider all the different applications the ITS has: combat, law enforcement, fire fighting...heck, my brothers could wear this stuff while hunting--just in case.
All in all I'm quite impressed with it. I think it's a fantastic idea that's been a long time coming. I commend the field doc who thought it up and BlackHawk for making it happen. I'm eager to see the final version--and to wear it. Although, I really would like to pass on having to activate any of the tourniquets to stop any of my extremities from bleeding...thanks.
Look for further updates as they are available.