Tourniquets save lives. That’s one of the first things I heard from “Doc,” during my first Combat Lifesaver course in my first year as a Marine. As my time went on we drilled, and drilled, and drilled with tourniquets. We learned how to apply them under stress, with a fighting patient, with one hand, with our offhand, and eventually, everything culminated with live tissue training and some heavily sedated pigs. Most Marines carried several. I kept one in my cargo pocket, one in my IFAK, and a final one strapped to the shoulder of my vest. We, of course, used CAT tourniquets. CAT Tourniquets are great when you are wearing body armor and wielding a machine gun. What about back home? How do you conceal a tourniquet? There isn’t a great way to carry a CAT low profile, and that is where I see the advantage of the RATS Tourniquet.
What’s a RATS Tourniquet
The RATS Tourniquet, or Rapid Application Tourniquet System, is an elastic based tourniquet created by a 28 year Special Forces medic. It uses a solid vulcanized rubber core with a nylon sheath. The RATS has a unique metal cleat that acts as a simple to use locking device. The U.S. Army’s Institute of Surgical Research conducted testing that showed the RATS is effective in occluding blood flow in both upper and lower extremities. The RATS has also been tested in conjunction with a Doppler Ultrasound to see if blood flow is actually stopped.
The Concealed Carry TourniquetIf it came to a head to head contest in saving lives and ease of use between the CAT and RATS the CAT would win. It’s easier to use with one hand, it’s less likely to cause nerve damage, and has a long history of success in the worst places possible. However, the RATS has its place. It’s small size and elastic construction make it insanely easy to carry, and to conceal. With your Crate Club included ReadyMan EDC Belt sleeve you can easily store a RATS on your belt and cover it with nothing more than a shirt. The shape and design of the CATS tourniquet is not the best for concealed carry. It’s size and use of a rod and polymer makes it stick out awkwardly. Walking the streets of the United States is a lot safer than walking the streets of Fallujah, and we are much less likely to hit an IED. However, it happens. The Boston Bombing occurred at home and in that same incident, we saw the value of tourniquets. Ordinary citizens used belts, shirts and more to form makeshift tourniquets and stop the bleeding. The Trauma Program Manager at Boston Medical center credited these improvised tourniquets with saving lives. Having a tourniquet is more likely to save your life or the life of another than a gun. With car accidents, work injuries, and general accidents greatly outpacing gunfights in commonality a tourniquet on the belt or in the car is just good planning.
Using the RATS TourniquetThe RATS Tourniquet is exceptionally easy to use. With a little training, anyone can learn how to apply a RATS to a potential patient. With that being said you shouldn’t go full bore with practice and remove the tourniquet asap after application. I practiced using an Onnit Mace handle, and yes it's smaller than average, but it allows me to train in the fundamentals of using the RATS. Getting the RATS ready is pretty simple. It doesn’t take much to ‘prep’ the RATS. All you need is a loop the size of three fingers, and of course easy access to it. Now I could type how to use it out, but this infographic from RatsTourniquet.com explains it quite well. Lastly, check our my video showing the RATS in action. Take mercy on me, as this was one of the few times I practiced it on myself. Practicing self-aid is where I learned that the RATS can be difficult to use on yourself, or at least on your arm. I had a ton of difficulty using one only one arm to apply the tourniquet. This was with my dominant hand. If my dominant arm is injured and I’m left trying to use my non-dominant hand to apply the tourniquet I’m screwed. I can barely operate a microwave with my non-dominant hand.
The ReadyMan EDC SleeveWe sent the RATS with the ReadyMan EDC sleeve to make carrying it easy. The ReadyMan EDC Belt sleeve is a simple elastic band that goes over your belt and carries gear horizontally. The RATS fits perfect in this device and small of the back or appendix carry makes reaching with either hand simple. The EDC Belt Sleeve doesn’t have to be isolated to RATS carry either. It can carry a multi-tool, spare pistol mag, a bandage, a candy bar, whatever you really want to carry on your belt you can.
Final ThoughtsThe RATS tourniquet has been a controversial piece of gear with a large amount of the discussion being based on a RATS vs CAT debate. It's a debate worth having. I’m a firm believer in the idea of different tools for different roles. The RATS has its place, and that’s why it made its way to Crate Club.