It pays to be prepared. Since the goal is to increase safety for all, officers need to know how to perform first aid not only on others, but also themselves, should an emergency arise.

To help officers in this endeavor, VirTra created the nationally-certified curricula “Tourniquet Application Under Threat”. Essentially, this course teaches officers how to best apply a tourniquet, depending on injury location. Officers are able to practice this potentially life-saving skill first in the classroom, under a trainer’s instruction, then in the real-life environment of the simulator.

The reason behind two-fold training is simple. Practicing in the classroom makes it easier to understand the basics, whereas practicing in the simulator is a test to see if trainees can perform the same function in a high-stress situation. It is only through constant practice in a high-stress, real-life environment that officers can improve stress inoculation, skill building and moving this information to long-term memory. Long-term memory is what will allow the trainee to quickly access the information when in the field.

Since life in the field is unpredictable, “Tourniquet Application Under Threat” covers a variety of lesson topics. This includes: general tourniquet uses, what to do when direct pressure and elevation cannot be maintained, tourniquet myths, the application process and so much more. To help with training, certain VirTra scenarios have an instructor appear on the screen and guide trainees step-by-step in applying the tourniquet while the scenario is ongoing.

You can get a sneak-peek into the tourniquet curriculum in this video:

Whether it’s applying a tourniquet to yourself or a partner, the tourniquet is a vital lifesaving tool that officers must master. The recommended tourniquets are designed to apply pressure above the wound to stop a person from bleeding out in the event of an injury. VirTra recommends all officers to not only understand how to use a tourniquet, but to also carry one. They have been proven to save lives and limbs over the years and in various disasters, including the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Tourniquets are applied when bleeding cannot be stopped with direct pressure or elevation, or when both are applied simultaneously. Sometimes there is a reason direct pressure and elevation cannot be maintained, such as an ongoing threat that requires the use of at least one arm to fight. It is also possible that the injured and/or their partner must flee the area quickly, again, making it impossible to apply pressure and elevation.

It is imperative that tourniquet application is done correctly or additional injuries may occur. When applying a tourniquet to yourself or a partner while a threat is still active, multi-tasking and stress levels should not affect how the tourniquet is applied, as cutting corners could cause more harm than good.

VirTra’s IADLEST-certified Tourniquet Application Under Threat curriculum is designed as a walkthrough that can be done alone or with a buddy. It accounts for long gun considerations, injuries to different limbs (arm, lower leg, thigh, etc.) and more. This curriculum falls under VirTra’s V-VICTA™—Virtual Interactive Coursework Academy—program and includes a lesson plan with testing materials, scoring rubric, class roster and class survey.

The 27-page lesson plan walks officers and trainees through the application of C-A-T and SOFT-T tourniquets through the use of images and step-by-step instructions. There are also tips on how to slow your heart rate using controlled breathing and finding cover. By using this lesson plan in conjunction with VirTra’s immersive simulations, officers become prepared to treat their own injuries or the injuries of others while a threat is still active.

To see this intense, heart-racing training in action, watch this video showing an officer applying a tourniquet after being injured, then getting back in the fight.

Train hard and stay safe!

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