Counterfeit tourniquets, of all things.
On July 14, 2015, an Ocean City, New Jersey patrolman applied a tourniquet to an 18-year old traffic victim’s leg. This action is credited with saving her life.
On August 8, 2015, a Florida deputy sheriff investigator used a tourniquet to save the life of a woman who had lost an arm in an alligator attack.
That same day police officers in Tulsa, Oklahoma used a tourniquet to stop blood flowing from a severed artery. According to emergency room physicians, this act saved the victim’s life.
On August 22, 2015, Dallas police officers saved the life of a 4-year old drive-by shooting victim by applying a tourniquet.
But now, dangerous fake tourniquets have entered the market.
According to Chris Hickey, EMS Training Officer for the Manchester New Hampshire Fire Department, a tourniquet is “basically a belt with a rod that you “twist, twist and twist” until the flow of blood is stopped, and then the rod is inserted into a clip to hold it in place.”
The fake rod, or windlass, breaks easily. New Hampshire first responders experienced a “catastrophic failure” with two counterfeit tourniquets at the scene of a motorcycle accident.
There are at least six known counterfeit tourniquets in circulation. Unfortunately, according to the manufacturer of the Combat Application Tourniquet, the windlass of the real (Cat Gen III) and at least one fake (E-Cat) tourniquets look identical to the casual observer.
There are some differences in the devices. This manufacturer describes these attributes of the fakes:
- Stitching only (no heat welding spots)
- Back of buckle has (6) 3mm mold marks: 2 on the lateral bar, 2 on the center bar, 2 on the (other) lateral bar.
- No markings (M/D/Y) on the tourniquet.
- Mold marks on windlass are small, only 3mm.
- Windlass is very flexible, bends and then snaps back.
- The hook and loop used to secure the windlass into the windlass lock will likely drop off the windlass lock — the glue is dry and does not hold.
If you are a first responder or public purchaser, now is the time to ensure that your agency has tourniquets available, and that they are the real thing.
If you are a consumer, and find yourself on the receiving end of one of these things,
This article was written by Steven Polunsky in August 2015 for Inside Job and is not intended to represent the official position of anyone or anything other than the author.