Tourniquets are an effective means of arresting life-threatening external haemorrhage from limb injury. Their use has not previously been accepted practice for pre-hospital civilian trauma care because of significant concerns regarding the potential complications. However, in a few rare situations tourniquet application will be necessary and life-saving. This review explores the potential problems and mistrust of tourniquet use; explains the reasons why civilian pre-hospital tourniquet use may be necessary; defines the clear indications for tourniquet use in external haemorrhage control; and provides practical information on tourniquet application and removal. Practitioners need to familiarise themselves with commercial pre-hospital tourniquets and be prepared to use one without irrational fear of complications in the appropriate cases.
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Competing interests: None declared