By: Kevin Cummings, Dallas Innovates • MAY 2022

Compression Works, a medical device company founded by two military veterans, developed its innovative conical-bladder tourniquet for use by U.S. special forces in Iraq and Afghanistan back in 2008. Now it’s expanding the device’s use for EMS teams and fire departments in Dallas and other large U.S. cities, and raising $2 million to help fuel the company’s growth.

A Dallas CEO is taking tech made for the battlefield to help first responders save lives on the home front. “Necessity is the mother of invention, and this is what really spurred the initial activity for our technology,” Dodson told Dallas Innovates. “The tourniquet was really developed out of necessity on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan—a technology that would stop the most significant bleeds at the point of injury and allow them to stabilize the patient and get them to a point of definitive care.”

Stopping the bleeding
Unlike traditional tourniquets, which Dodson said work for superficial wounds and those on extremities, Compression Works’ device—called the abdominal and aortic junctional tourniquet-stabilized (AAJT-S)—can be used to stop bleeding on areas like the shoulder, abdomen, and pelvis.
The device can be easily carried by first responders for use in the field. In a five-step process, they position the device, fasten it to a patient, and inflate a conical bladder that inserts itself in the body to stop hemorrhaging. 

Dodson said his company is also exploring potential uses to help stabilize heart attack victims en route to the hospital and to stop postpartum hemorrhage, which he noted is a leading cause of maternal deaths outside the U.S.

“The genius behind our device is that it is also a belt type system that wraps around the patient in five different parts of their anatomy,” Dodson said. “When you put pressure into this bladder, it literally inflates in this cone shape into the body, pressing against the vessels and shutting off the bleeding like turning off a faucet.”

Battlefield origins
Compression Works was co-founded in 2008 by Dr. John Croushorn and Dr. Richard Schwartz so the device could be used by military special forces on the field. Both cofounders are veterans, and they received FDA approval for the device within eight days. At that time, the device was picked up by special operations forces like the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers.

Dodson says that until about two years ago, the company was largely run as a passion project. Then the decision was made to scale the business in an effort led by Dodson, who has experience at large tech firms and numerous venture-backed startups. While the company has historically been based in Alabama, Dodson is based in Dallas and says his company plans to continue its growth from the North Texas region.

“We’ve really been pivoting the company over the last two years, standing up distribution, not only coast to coast in the United States to call on a significant opportunity in the EMS and tactical law enforcement markets, but also in international markets around the world,” Dodson said.

Compression Works seeks to raise $2 million
Since the decision to scale, rather than sell off assets or spin off the technology, Compression Works has expanded its presence and is now used in 18 countries and is adding about five to six new countries per quarter, Dodson said. The company currently works with five regional distributors across the U.S., all focused on the first responder space. The device is currently being used by a number of large fire departments and EMS organizations, including in Dallas, New York City, and the Miami-Dade area.

To help continue its growth trajectory, Compression Works is in the middle of raising a $2 million convertible note, of which Dodson said it has closed about 75%. With the new funding, the company will be bringing on new team members to expand its production capabilities and find new clients in the field.
“We think that the momentum will continue to build on this, given the applicability of this device and the fact that it’s so small and compact,” Dodson said. “It can really drop on to any vehicle or into any medic or paramedic’s go-pack and go along with him to the accident site.”

This article, “Medical Device Startup Raising $2M for ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of Tourniquets” was originally featured on Dallas Innovates on May 18, 2022. A collaboration of the Dallas Regional Chamber and Dallas Next, Dallas Innovates is an online news platform covering what’s new + next in Dallas – Fort Worth innovation.