Sunday, September 14, 2014
I have a reasonable amount of experience with tourniquets and a few weeks ago at Urban Shield I got to do some side by side comparison with a variety of them in classes and scenarios. One of the instructor favorites was the SOF T. It's one of three that seem to be among the most popular. I had mixed feelings about it. In spite of some initial difficulties and one very specific application issue, it seems to be a solid choice for regular carry and field use.
There are a number of pros to this model, not the least of which is the solid construction and metal windlass. The ones I worked with held up well and worked even when wet, an obvious positive point. I was able to quickly crank down and stop femoral bleeds and the SOF T seemed very well suited for use on legs, possibly better than some other models.
On the cons side, it was difficult to tighten with self application. The buckle wasn't prone to rapid deployment and it was tricky getting the windlass locked with one hand and it isn't the easiest to grip wet. That might not be a big deal as long as you are not attempting self rescue but for that reason alone, it's not my favorite. I had a hard time at first meeting the time limits for my tests when attempting to apply the SOF T to my upper arms. I did manage to deploy within desired times but had better times with other tourniquets. This could be unique to me but the same tendencies were observed with other students. It got much worse with fluids.
Overall I would say you can trust it to work for sure and it's a good choice for patient transport because of the secure locking ring. Again, after a fair amount of practice I was able to use it quickly and effectively but I would prefer it not take much practice. At any rate, it's a solid piece of gear that will serve well should you need it. Effectively the differences are minor but did add up to low double digit percentile changes on speed of deployment. With exsanguination times as rapid as three minutes, thirty seconds can make difference.
Either way, it's a solid choice and in this case arguing for or against probably isn't necessary. If you encounter a SOF T on a patient don't hesitate to use it and if you like them by all means add them to your load out.
Monday, September 1, 2014
So wow, Urban Shield 2014. I learned so much it's hard to cover everything but trying is probably a good way to remember more of it so I'll set best intentions now to write at least a few posts talking about some of what I learned. A heck of a lot of ground was covered from exposure to gear and skills to being around countless mentors ranging from Air Force para-rescue, SWAT teams, firefighters and medical professionals with decades of experience to stress training that put everything to the test. It was great.
Among the more trackable benchmarks was getting my LEFR TCC certification, learning needle decompression and substantially upgrading my skills with tourniquets and triage. All more than worthwhile. I'm quite predictably a better first responder for having participated.
From the skilled medics and doctors to the equally skilled operators I was privileged to train with and learn from, I'm humbled, impressed and owe many debts of thanks. Urban Shield was one of the best training exercises I have ever attended. I'm already looking forward to next year.
On the off chance someone averse to the event gets a look at this post it may be helpful to consider that Urban Shield is not about militarizing the police. It is about preparing for disasters, natural and man made. This is how first responders prepare for everything from hurricanes and earthquakes to school shootings and terrorist bombings. I understand popular objections but no joke, you want this event to happen. If you are concerned about what goes on there maybe volunteer and see for yourself instead of preventing your community first responders from training to take care of you.