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Combat Application Tourniquet fares well in a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear dress state

Abstract

Introduction There is a need for a military tourniquet to control catastrophic haemorrhage in a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) threat environment. No published data exist as to the efficacy of tourniquets while wearing British military CBRN individual protective equipment (IPE).

Methods 12 volunteers from the counter CBRN instructors’ course allowed testing on 24 legs. A Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T) was applied to all volunteers at the level of the midthigh. 12 legs were tested while wearing CBRN IPE (both operator and simulated casualty), and the control group of 12 legs was tested while wearing conventional combat dress state (both operator and simulated casualty). The order of leg laterality and dress state were sequenced according to a prerandomised system. Efficacy was measured via use of an ultrasound probe at the popliteal artery. Tourniquets were considered effective if arterial flow was completely occluded on ultrasound imaging. Data were collected on time to successful application, failure of tourniquets and pain scores as rated by the visual analogue scale (1–10).

Results There were no failures of tourniquet application in the CBRN group, and two failures (17%) in the control group. Failures were pain threshold exceeded (n=1) and tourniquet internal strap failure (n=1). The mean application time for the CBRN group was 28.5 s (SD 11.7) and 23.7 s (SD 9.8) for the conventional combat group. There was no statistically significant difference (p=0.27). The median CBRN pain score was 2.0 (IQR 2.0–3.5). The median control pain score was 4.0 (IQR 3–6). This was a statistically significant difference (p=0.002).

Conclusion C-A-Ts applied to simulated casualties in CBRN IPE at the midthigh are at least as efficacious as those applied to the midthigh in a conventional combat dress state. The pain experienced was less in CBRN IPE than when in a conventional combat dress state.

  • C-A-T
  • CAT
  • CBRN
  • IPE
  • all hazards approach

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