Airman innovator patents tourniquet belt

  • Published
  • By Julie Svoboda
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

On any given day, 82nd Training Support Squadron Senior Airman Isaiah Demillo, Country Liaison, International Military Student Office, surveys his surroundings and thinks about ways to make things better, smarter or faster.

Demillo usually uses his technical skills to create databases to improve program function and efficiency. His latest innovation, though, focused on saving lives rather than time. While attending Tactical Combat Casualty Care, he learned that belts, which are required with the operational camouflage pattern uniform, should not be used as a tourniquet.

“The instructor was going over the makeshift portion of the class,” he said. “Like, if you didn't have a tourniquet on you, you'd have to make one yourself they said never use a belt. So, I pondered over the question and thought ‘why not?’ And it was only due to not having a windlass function to it, so it couldn't apply the appropriate pressure to stop the bleeding. So, I just thought to myself add one.”

Demillo devised a belt with a built-in windlass tourniquet. He pitched his idea to a Sheppard-based Spark Cell, who referred him to a patent lawyer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“I actually started this product in late 2022, that’s when I really got the idea,” he said. “Facilitating it took me quite a while, about six to eight months to get the paperwork ready and filed. After that, I pulled it from my brain and into reality.”

To build the prototype, Demillo went to experts at different training entities in the wing. After designing the DRT, he went to the 361st TRS, where aircrew flight equipment specialists helped sew the parts together. Demillo built a computer-aided drafting file for the buckle/windlass tourniquet part of the belt and experts in Training Development 3D printed it.

The result was the Demillo Rigger’s Tourniquet belt, or DRT belt. The belt can be worn with OCPs and is designed to be self-applied, if necessary. It also has an instant release so it can be quickly removed when medical help arrives. According to Demillo, having a tourniquet close at hand can be the difference between life and death in many situations off the battlefield.

“I love to ask people, ‘Do you know where your nearest tourniquet in this building is?’ Most people would say ‘no, no clue,’ or ‘it's so far away.’ If something were to happen, a disaster, or a car accident and any situation with massive bleeding, I would just like for people to be prepared and be more proactive than reactive towards those situations. Hopefully it can save a lot of lives.”

Although Demillo invented the DRT, he said the support of Team Sheppard was an essential element of bringing his idea to fruition. He encourages other innovators to speak up about their ideas.

“You never know where life is going to take you,” he said. “And you know, I took a chance on something. And once that spark hits, you gotta go for it.”