I have seen a lot of airsoft and MilSim players sporting a high-speed tourniquet on their load out and this brings to question, "Do they know how to use them and when it would be necessary?" It also raises the question, "What's in your med pouch and what SHOULD be in there?"
Spc. Curtis Wood, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, adjusts his weapon after pulling a "patient" under a barbed wire obstacle Friday. Wood was one of 15 combat medics competing for a chance to represent the 10th Mountain Division's at the Army Medical Department's Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. Best Medic Competition in October. (DoD Photo)
I will begin by stating the obvious; airsoft is a sport of 6mm BBs, not lead projectiles. The likelihood of needing a tourniquet is slim to none, but I get it. It looks cool and you're running an impression. However, the truth of the matter is that there are many hazard while playing airsoft and especially MilSim that a player may run into. One needs to be prepared for such situations. Being properly equipped and having a little knowledge goes a long way, but always call 9-1-1 immediately and get rescue professionals on their way.
Practical Bleeding Management for Airsoft Games by FTAC MILSIM
My first suggestion is that everyone learns their true blood type and known allergies, such as medications or insects. Next, stop wearing blood type and "no known allergies" patches just for show and start wearing them with purpose. The minutes needed to determine these things could be minutes that save your life. Anaphylaxis is no joking matter. It can be deadly in a matter of minutes. If you are wearing legit patches, you're ahead of the game. I also would recommend that everyone wear medical alert bracelets or necklaces with your real medical information.
The next piece of medical knowledge that every air softer, hell every American should know is how to properly do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to properly deploy an automated defibrillator (AED). There are several national organizations who teach these basic life support skills, such as The American Red Cross, The American Heart Association, and The American Safety Council. I suggest checking your local area and taking these courses. They are often offered very cheap and sometimes free of charge.
The final piece of educational advice I have to offer is to understand blood loss and the proper way to control it. In general, the only external blood loss that is an immediate cause for concern is arterial or veinous bleeding. Arterial bleeding can easily be identified by its spraying/spurting appearance. Veinous bleeding is identified by a very steady flow of blood, generally without spurting. This may appear similar to a flow of coke coming out of a spilled bottle. These two forms of blood loss are an immediate concern to the well-being of the injured and need to be attended to immediately by professionals. However, the chanced of seeing such an injury in airsoft or MilSim are very unlikely.
Therefore, what do you do about blood loss that may not be immediately life threatening? Blood loss from a simple or even deep laceration, often capillary bleeding (an injury you are likely to experience). I can tell you one thing; a tourniquet is not the answer. Although these injuries may have significant bleeding, it is often not at the level that would cause permanent injury or death.
The first step to controlling blood loss is direct pressure. Many times, direct pressure with your hand alone for a length of time will allow the blood to clot and stop the bleeding. Your next step should be to apply a gauze bandage and continue pressure on the wound. 99 percent of the time, this will solve any immediate bleeding issues and allow you to get the injured to the proper medical personnel. If the blood soaks through the gauze, do not remove the gauze from the wound. This can cause the clotting which has occurred to break free and the bleeding will continue. Always add additional gauze on top of the already soaked gauze and re-apply pressure.
If the bleeding continues heavily and continually soaks every effort to stop it with gauze, you may have a more serious injury on your hands. In the case that the blood loss is so severe that you cannot stop it and it is steadily flowing and soaking numerous gauze pads, have the injured lay on their back if they aren't already (if they took a fall and there is a chance of spinal injury, please leave this to professionals). Then elevate their legs using your backpacks or loadout vests. If their injury is to their arm, elevate their arm as well. This allows gravity to keep the blood closer to the vital organs.
The absolute last resort to controlling blood loss is a tourniquet and the likelihood of needing one, aside from someone's hand or foot being completely torn off is almost nonexistent. I would recommend that you keep your tourniquets for show and never apply them. Exhaust the three previously listed techniques first and it is likely that rescue will be on scene by this time.
With all this said, please leave medical care to the professionals on the field who may be experienced EMT's, paramedics or first aid providers. They should be the first people to provide care, but if you run into a situation where they are unavailable, this article is to help with some basic suggestions on how to assist until they can arrive. I highly recommend that every air softer research their local area and take a First Responder or EMT course if they are available. The more people who get trained, the safer it becomes for everyone.
My recommended medical equipment to carry during games:
-A CPR mask
-4x4 sterile gauze pads (several)
-Sterile gauze rolls (several)
-A roll of medical tape
-A triangle bandage
-A pair of tweezers
There are several additional items that I would carry as a trained EMT into a gunfight, but for airsoft, this small package of medical gear should be all you need.
--Brandon Roberts is a counter-terrorism task force officer based out of Meridian, Mississippi. He has been in law enforcement since 2001 and has served as a private military contractor for the U.S. government overseas. Brandon is the author of the Amazon Best Seller List book 'Evading Honesty' and runs milsim with the Florida Tactical Action Club