An approach to saving lives from the battlefield

The FBI is adopting a lesson learned on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan -- applying the tourniquet
CBS News

(CBS News) QUANTICO, Va. - Applying lessons learned from treating battlefield casualties has long produced great benefits here at home. The use of triage choppers in Vietnam changed trauma treatment. Police officers have better bullet proof vests. We present one low-tech advancement the FBI is implementing .

At the FBI's training academy, prospective agents practice responding to bank robberies and office shootings. But beyond guns, these next generation G-Men are also learning how to use another piece of equipment: a simple tourniquet

The FBI is adopting a lesson learned on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The quick field application of tourniquets has helped the U.S. military save thousands of lives.

Dr. William Fabbri is in charge of the FBI's emergency medical training. He agreed that if one can stop the bleeding in the field to an extreme injury to a limb, a life can be saved.

"If you apply the tourniquet early, before the person has bled significantly, their likelihood of survivability is extremely high," he said.

For FBI Agent Michael Johnson, the tourniquet is just as important as the rifle he carries. Johnson is a paramedic on an FBI SWAT team.

"If I'm the first guy through the door," he said, "I take a hail of gunfire, I dive into a corner, my guys can't get to me, I am sitting here operating this by myself."

FBI recruits spend 16 weeks learning to become agents and just one day in tourniquet training. But that's enough, Dr. Fabbri said, for agents to learn how to buy critical time.

"They are trained and equipped and confident to do the right thing in that one, two, or three minutes--they're gonna make a difference before the professionals arrive," he said.

Fabbri believes just as on battlefields, tourniquets can be life-savers at crime scenes.