Background: While the military use of tourniquets and hemostatic gauze is well established, few data exist regarding civilian emergency medical services (EMS) systems experience.
Methods: A retrospective review was performed of consecutive patients with prehospital tourniquet and hemostatic gauze application in a single ground and rotor-wing rural medical transport service. Standard EMS registry data were reviewed for each case.
Results: During the study period, which included 203,301 Gold Cross Ambulance and 8,987 Mayo One Transport records, 125 patients were treated with tourniquets and/or hemostatic gauze in the prehospital setting. Specifically, 77 tourniquets were used for 73 patients and 62 hemostatic dressings were applied to 52 patients. Seven patients required both interventions. Mechanisms of injury (MOIs) for tourniquet use were blunt trauma (50%), penetrating wounds (43%), and uncontrolled hemodialysis fistula bleeding (7%). Tourniquet placement was equitably distributed between upper and lower extremities, as well as proximal and distal locations. Mean tourniquet time was 27 minutes, with 98.7% success. Hemostatic bandage MOIs were blunt trauma (50%), penetrating wounds (35%), and other MOIs (15%). Hemostatic bandage application was head and neck (50%), extremities (36%), and torso (14%), with a 95% success rate. Training for both interventions was computer-based and hands-on, with maintained proficiency of %gt;95% after 2 years.
Conclusion: Civilian prehospital use of tourniquets and hemostatic gauze is feasible and effective at achieving hemostasis. Online and practical training programs result in proficiency of skills, which can be maintained despite infrequent use.