Tourniquets helped save many lives at marathon bombing - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Tourniquets helped save many lives at marathon bombing

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BOSTON (WHDH) - They are a simple solution to a dangerous problem, and if used properly, a tourniquet can be a life-saver.

In the middle of the chaos of the marathon bombings people used what they could to help save lives belts, shirts, shoelaces, you name it were used as tourniquets and they worked!

“In the cases that we saw at the marathon, the limbs were mangled or missing, so tourniquets were applied directly and we found that to be very helpful,” Boston Medical Center Trauma Program Manager Joe Blansfield said.

A tourniquet, applied properly, compresses the arteries cutting off the blood supply.

“You could literally bleed to death in a matter of 10-15 minutes. A tourniquet on that, you can see, would halt that life-threatening hemorrhage, and literally is a difference maker and save lives,” Blansfield said.

Blansfield says tourniquets are simple and effective but should only be used in extreme cases.

“When you are considering a tourniquet, you are making a life over limb decision, so you are willing to say that limb is not salvageable but you want to do it to save a life. So tourniquets should be considered a life over limb decision,” Blansfield said

And there is a right way to apply a tourniquet, always above the injury and above the joint.

“Slip the tourniquet on, cinch it down as tight as possible, and then there's a windlass, and it’s just turned until the bleeding ceases. Once bleeding is under control and ceased, it is secured,” Blansfield said

For many marathon bombing victims, it was the difference between life and death.

“The data that we collected across the city speaks for itself, anyone who made it to a trauma center, no one died,” Blansfield said

Since the Boston Marathon bombing, all Boston Police and Boston EMS have been issued tourniquets.
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