“Junctional bleeding” means severe bleeding in hard to reach places, especially around the hip and groin, and it’s notoriously hard to control. The basic geometry of the human body makes a tourniquet hard to apply, leaving medics and paramedics with few good options. SAM Medical founder Sam Scheinberg came to Ziba looking to create a new kind of tourniquet that could solve the problem. But not only did it have to work flawlessly, it had to be “bomb-proof and brain dead”—not because of any lack of training or preparation on the medics’ part, but because of the life-or-death conditions under which it would be used.
To get the design right, the Ziba team had to understand the situation and the users. So we spent hours talking with and observing medical professionals, and noting what worked and didn’t about current designs. Then we started prototyping. An inflatable pressure bulb was the key to apply enough pressure in the right place, but getting the details right was everything. Through dozens of prototypes, we explored approaches to unpacking, applying, and tightening the tourniquet belt, and placing, securing, and inflating the bulb.
The unique design of the SAM Tourniquet allows for unparalleled flexibility and speed, and has been widely embraced by both military medics and civilian EMTs. Testing by the Army Institute of Surgical Research confirmed the tourniquet’s effectiveness; the US Armed Forces ordered 500 for deployment with active duty service personnel late in 2013. On January 27, 2014, the SAM Junctional Tourniquet saved a gunshot soldier’s life in Afghanistan for the first time.
“The SAM Junctional Tourniquet does things no other tourniquet can... When blast injuries take off legs like in Boston and every day in combat zones, it can easily be fatal. It is frequently difficult if not impossible to stop the bleeding in time… [SAM’s tourniquet] is well-designed, ruggedly constructed, and terribly clever.”