Tourniquets coming to Edgartown beaches

These tourniquet kits will be available at Edgartown beaches. - Photo courtesy of Edgartown Fire Dept.

Edgartown lifeguards will soon have tourniquets and pressure bandages on hand. The first aid supplies are meant to stanch blood flow, and will be kept in watertight yellow boxes the public can access when lifeguards aren’t on duty. The Edgartown fire and parks departments are jointly providing the tourniquets and pressure bandages. Tourniquets have become standard equipment at some Cape Cod beaches, where great white sharks lurk in growing numbers. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy promotes the Stop the Bleed training, which utilizes tourniquets and pressure bandages. In the past two years, buoys have detected tagged great white sharks at least passing by Edgartown beaches on their way to the Cape.

“Most white shark-bite victims survive because of first aid initiated from bystanders,” the conservancy site states. “White shark bites generally result in massive hemorrhaging, which requires immediate first aid in order to stop the blood loss.”

Edgartown officials declined to say the tourniquets and pressure bandages were specifically for shark-bite trauma. Edgartown Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer said the supplies can be used for any injury that causes serious blood loss. Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty said they could be employed for a variety of emergency medical uses, and should be considered as essential as AEDs, and wouldn’t characterize them as shark-specific. Edgartown harbormaster Charlie Blair said he supported getting tourniquets and bandages on the beaches, and described them as life-saving supplies “anyone can learn how to use.” 

Chris Kennedy, stewardship manager for The Trustees of Reservations, praised the deployment of tourniquets and pressure bandages, and noted The Trustees would likely stock their own in the near future. 

The remote areas of our beaches make every second count in the event of a bleeding emergency,” a joint press release from Edgartown fire and parks departments states. “The bright yellow boxes will be clearly visible and fitted with an easy-break tag to deter someone from helping themselves in a nonemergency setting. We hope that the public recognizes the serious nature of these supplies being available, and treats them and potential people in need with respect.”