For decades, we’ve known that blood loss from extremity wounds accounts for a significant percentage of officers killed in the line of duty. In the past 10-plus years we’ve also seen a move toward making sure every law enforcement professional is equipped with a tourniquet in addition to other medical trauma care items such as a pressure bandage, hemostatic agent and more. While some progress has been made in making sure every officer is equipped with medical trauma supplies, one of the biggest challenges is standardizing carry and placement, in or on the uniform, of a tourniquet. Why the tourniquet specifically?
If you think about medical trauma treatment items as a continuum of options from simple pressure to bandages to hemostatic agents to the tourniquet, that tourniquet is the final option of treatment short of emergency room care. As such, it’s the one option every officer should have. Enter the Alien Gear TAQ-STRAP ratchet tourniquet.
With the growing trend toward drop-leg holsters and platforms, it is pure genius to incorporate a tourniquet into the thigh strap that secures such. Properly deploying a tourniquet for use requires 1) Knowing where one is, 2) Getting it placed directly onto the injured officer’s leg, and 3) Tightening it to full occlusion of blood flow in time to save the officer’s life. By having the tourniquet already on the officer’s thigh, a lot of time under pressure is saved.
We perceived the need to test two things: First, it needed to be tested for function simply as a security strap to hold the holster or equipment platform in place. Second, we needed to test the tourniquet’s capabilities to ensure that it would fully occlude blood flow. Thinking ahead for needs and solutions, Alien Gear designed the TAQ-STRAP to also be placed independent of a holster or platform. It can simply be positioned around the leg on the provided belt loop.
The TAQ-STRAP came with clear, illustrated directions on how to equip the holster or thigh platform with it and then how to adjust its size for the specific officer’s size thigh. Once mounted and sized, we used it as a non-emergency equipment strap, wear testing it for several days on the range. We experienced no discomfort or failure to perform.
To test the tourniquet functionality required the presence of someone who was properly trained to use a stethoscope. With the assistance of a SWAT doctor, an officer deployed the tourniquet on himself, ratcheting the strap tighter until full blood flow occlusion occurred. As expected, the first attempt took a couple tries, only because the natural tendency is to stop tightening the tourniquet when it gets uncomfortable. Unfortunately, a properly applied tourniquet isn’t comfortable, but the discomfort is necessary to stop the blood flow. Failure to achieve full blood flow occlusion merely slows down bleeding to death rather than preventing it. With practice, confirmed by the doctor and his stethoscope, full blood flow occlusion was achieved.
Ultimately, for maximum benefit from this design, the user would need a TAQ-STRAP on each leg, which is convenient using a drop leg holster in addition to a drop leg equipment platform of some type—but those are not required. The TAQ-STRAP, we learned after testing, can also be placed on the upper arm, using the belt loop to attach to any over-the-shoulder pad or mount. Ideally, the officer would have one additional tourniquet for use on an injured citizen. Standardization of placement, however, is critical. If a tourniquet needs to be placed, time lost searching for it in a cargo pocket or patrol vehicle is time that might cost the citizen’s life.
We are happy to award the OFFICER Labs “Tested—Field Rated” seal of approval to the Alien Gear TAQ-STRAP. It’s a life-saving concept that we’re sure will grow in the industry. Learn more on www.aliengearholsters.com.