Tourniquets have long been cut off from the medical community, derided for decades as too risky due to the possibility that in staunching blood flow, they could force the amputation of a limb. But now some doctors are rethinking their stance, reports the Wall Street Journal. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, bystanders used improvised tourniquets to stop victims from bleeding to death; in Iraq and Afghanistan, studies have found that tourniquets have saved lives, while there's no evidence they were responsible for a solider losing a limb. One big reason why the ancient technique is proving to be OK: It typically takes at least 2 hours for a tourniquet to do enough harm to require amputation, and it's rare for Americans to be more than two hours from a hospital.
"It's kind of a radical change in thinking, because for years we have been teaching that tourniquets should be the absolute last resort," says the associate medical director for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, who has recently started teaching cops how to use tourniquets. Boston police officers have been using them since the bombing, and now Philadelphia plans to follow suit, NBC Philadelphia reports. "We’ve purchased about 5,000 of them," says Philadelphia's police commissioner. "It will be for people who are in the field, working uniform patrol, special patrol and things like that." (Read more Boston Marathon bombing stories.)