You have a holster for your firearm, but do you need one for your tourniquet? Tourniquet holsters are an important piece of gear when used correctly. However, there seems to be some questions about tourniquet holsters, and how to use them effectively.
In this article, you'll get a detailed look at when, how, and why you should use a tourniquet holster.
A tourniquet is one of the most important tools for bleeding control. Every year, people use tourniquets to save lives. However, this doesn't happen by accident. To use a tourniquet effectively, you need to train, train, and train again.
If you're still unsure about using a tourniquet, then read this article on misunderstood facts about tourniquets. Also, take some time to watch this video showing you how to apply a tourniquet the right way.
With that said, let's talk about tourniquet holsters.
Note: For this article, we will use the terms holster and holder interchangeably.
History of the Tourniquet Holster
Back in the day, many people in the military, law enforcement, and EMS would have a tourniquet tucked in their bag. Some used simple rubber bands to strap tourniquets to their gear; however, it wasn't common to find everyone with a custom-made tourniquet holder.
Part of the reason for this lack of interest was likely due to the thought that tourniquets were a last resort item, not to be used unless a patient had an amputated limb or only after trying everything - from direct pressure to pressure bandages to elevation to pressure points.
Also, people once thought that placing a tourniquet automatically equated to losing that limb. This is false.As professionals have gathered more experience, they've found that tourniquets can be left in place for up to two hours, and sometimes even longer. These days, responders and civilians from all walks of life carry tourniquets and apply them quickly.
Key point: As people realized the tourniquet's life-saving capabilities, they decided it shouldn't be stuffed deep in a backpack. It should be out in the open, ready for fast deployment.
Why Use a Tourniquet Holder?
A tourniquet holster is there, so you can grab that tourniquet when you need it. This section will talk about some of the main advantages of using a tourniquet holster.
Here are several reasons to use a tourniquet holder:
Ease of carry
Let's look at these in more depth and understand some of the theory.
Tourniquet Holster for Rapid Deployment
When you need a tourniquet, especially if you must apply it to yourself, you don't want to be fumbling through a backpack. You want to hold direct pressure and then apply that tourniquet. Fast.
When you use and train with a tourniquet holster, your mind will know right where that tourniquet is, should you ever need it. Being consistent will remove decisions during an emergency.
Say you carry a tourniquet every day. This is a smart and good practice. However, if you're constantly changing where you are carrying it - glove box today, backpack tomorrow, purse the next day - you're less likely to rapidly deploy it when you really need it.
Tourniquet Holder for Easy Carry
A good tourniquet holster makes it easy to grab your tourniquet before you start the day. Unfortunately, many people don't carry life-saving equipment for one reason: it's not convenient.
A good tourniquet holster makes it convenient. Even if you don't wear the tourniquet on your belt, having it packaged in a holster will protect it from damage and keep it stored in a nice package.
Also, it can be awkward to carry a tourniquet in your pocket. With a tourniquet holster, you can mount it to your belt (some models let you mount it concealed inside the belt) or on your ankle.
These features make it easy to access.
A Tourniquet Holder Keeps You Organized
Even if you buy the cheapest tourniquet holder you can find (still testing to make sure it performs the job), having your tourniquets organized is a bonus.
In the next section, we'll talk about some of the pros and cons of carrying specific types of tourniquets and tourniquet holsters. For now, let me explain the importance of organization.
If you respond to a shooting or other mass casualty event, then you'll need more than one tourniquet (and more than one holster).
While some people choose to place many tourniquets in different compartments, there is value in having several tourniquets in the same area. Why? When you begin to care for multiple patients, you need to find the tourniquets and apply them quickly.
Attaching tourniquet holsters to the outside of a bag, like in this active shooter kit, ensures you're ready to respond to a large-scale event.
Best Tourniquet Holsters on the Market
The best tourniquet is the one you feel comfortable using. There isn't a one size fits all approach.
Some people might need a strictly tactical tourniquet holster to carry on their belt while at the shooting range. Others might be on the market for an EDC tourniquet holster, one that's simple to conceal.
Here are a few tourniquet holsters and their benefits:
Ankle tourniquet holder. Good for carrying more than just a tourniquet. You can also store gauze and pressure dressings.
Condor tourniquet pouch. A simple, effective option that won't break the bank. The Condor tourniquet pouch is universal, fitting most tourniquet brands on the market.
NAR Tourniquet holder. Built for the elements, this tourniquet holder is made with the CAT in mind.
There are a ton of tourniquet holders out there. Some are hard-shelled, some have velcro covers. Who knows, some might even make your coffee (let us know if you find that one).
Let's talk about some tips and tricks for using a tourniquet holster.
Things to Consider when Using Tourniquet Holsters
In this section, we'll talk through several issues you may encounter when using tourniquet holsters.
Here they are:
Abrasive C-Hook. Some tourniquets have an abrasive portion of velcro on the C-Hook. There have been reports that this will wear clothing after a while. The CAT tourniquet is the main offender in this department. Tourniquets like the SOF-T don't use velcro. Some tourniquet holsters have a special cover that protects your clothing.
Belt vs. Bag. Some tourniquet holsters are better suited for MOLLE webbing on a chest rig or backpack. Other holsters will be designed specifically for the belt - keep this in mind when choosing your holster.
Cheap vs. quality. While it's always a good idea to get the best you can afford, if you decide to buy less expensive tourniquet holsters, these are probably best used strictly as an organizational tool for a trauma bag.
When it comes to life-saving gear, all the advice here on the internet isn't going to cut it. At the end of the day, you've got to get your hands on some of this gear and make sure it works for your system.
How to Use a Tourniquet Holster
Tourniquet holsters are simple devices that clip, buckle, or slide onto your belt or pack. There's nothing too difficult, but there are some things you should know.
One thing you'll need to know is how to stage a tourniquet (the CAT) properly.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Retention. Make sure your tourniquet fits your holster. You don't want it shaking around.
Durability. If you're running obstacle courses and crawling through mud, make sure your holster can handle the abuse.
Placement. Many people choose to carry their tourniquet in a central location so that they can access it with either arm.
If you're curious, you can watch this video on some carry options for a tourniquet holster.
Now, let's wrap this up.
Your tourniquet needs to be protected from sunlight and dirt. These things as well as others can weaken your tourniquet. The environment can weaken the composite and webbing parts of you tourniquet.
Final Word on Tourniquet Holders
A tourniquet holster is another tool that ensures you have life-saving equipment ready when you need it. Just like a firearm, you should practice with your tourniquet holster.
Carrying a tourniquet is important. However, it's also wise to pair a tourniquet with other bleeding control items, like gauze and bandages.
Keep asking good questions, and never stop training. If you have any tips or tricks on tourniquets holsters, we'd love to hear your thoughts.