Being able to deal with traumatic bleeding is a skill that isn’t super complicated and can save a life, including your own. The idea isn’t to be an emergency room doctor but simply to stabilize someone until the real help can get there.

Some basic things you can carry include something as simple as gauze and a self adhering bandage to specialty items like quick clot, compression bandages, Israeli Bandages and, most importantly, a tourniquet.

Tourniquets can help stop severe bleeding, especially if an artery has been cut. They are light, small and cheap, making it easy to carry one.

In this video I explain why they are so important, show you the different styles of tourniquets and demonstrate how to use each one. They are a simple tool which can save a life, but only if you know how.

LIke I demonstrate in the video, you can use the CATS style or the RATS tourniquet. Whichever one you use, the same basic procedure it used:

  • High on the limb (you will hear to put it 2-3 inches above the wound itself but in an emergency this is the easiest advice to follow)
  • Tight enough to stop the bleeding (which will be uncomfortable)
  • Leave it on and re-check if you move the person

You can find a great free primer the basics of stabilizing someone after a traumatic injury at Being ready means having the knowledge, tools and willingness to help and I hope you’ll join me being the type of rider who is ready to help no matter what the trail…and life…throw your way.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

“Everything is revealed to all men as they desire it to be revealed to them, by their own definitions alone.” Miyamoto Musashi



3 thoughts on “Tourniquets for MTB: The Life You Save Could Be Your Own

  1. Vinay says:

    Thanks James. I was indeed told that using these implies the injured person is going to use the limb as a consequence. Which is a tough call to make if you’re not trained to assess whether the (internal) bleeding is severe enough to warrant the use of a tourniquet. So thanks for clearing that up.

    Considering the brackets above, does this actually apply to internal bleeding too or only to open wounds? I once jammed the end of my (fortunately capped) handlebar in my inner thigh as I washed out in a corner. I slowly passed out but then recovered and got back up with a huge hematoma and, as it turned out, a gash in the muscle. But there was no open wound. So yeah, does this procedure apply to internal bleeding to or only to open wounds?

    By the way, just received the goods to service my pedals. Thanks!

    • James Wilson says:

      Hi Vinay,

      Great question, I had a very similar experience on the trail. To be honest, I haven’t thought about it and I’ll ask some experts for their input as well. I could be wrong here, but it is my understanding that the purpose of a tourniquet is to stop you from bleeding out, which will happen if you clip an artery and you will usually only have minutes to address this. I’m not aware of anyone that has bled out internally that quickly. Typically a bad internal bleeding problem will take longer and you will have time to get to the help you need.

      Hope this helps. I’ll probably do a post after I’m able to talk with someone about this, especially if they have a different answer.

      Thanks for the support, glad that this is helping.

  2. Tom F says:

    Excellent point and surprising this isn’t emphasized more. Cheap insurance that could save a life. I’ve been carrying a SOFTT tourniquet and Quickclot for over a year after getting a deep laceration during a solo trail ride. If your employer offers an FSA plan, these are eligible expenses per the IRS. No excuse then for not being prepared.

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