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South student earns top award for tourniquet design
Marissa McAfee
Marissa McAfee was awarded the Pinnacle Award on March 24, for her design titled “Casualty Care Improvised Direct Pressure Adjunct.”

Recently, a South Forsyth senior received the top award at the 70th annual Georgia Science and Engineering Fair held at UGA for her design of a new type of combat tourniquet which can be improvised in the field. 

Marissa McAfee was awarded the Pinnacle Award on March 24, for her design titled “Casualty Care Improvised Direct Pressure Adjunct,” and will now advance to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held in Pittsburgh on May 13-18.

According to McAfee, her design is for a specialized tourniquet, called a “junctional tourniquet” that stops bleeding at the juncture of limbs from wounds that normal combat tourniquets can’t help with.

“These wounds are extremely difficult to mitigate or control, just because of the area you are in … and there’s a lot of major arteries that are running through there so you can lose a lot of blood really quickly,” McAfee said while explaining her design.  

“Blood is life, so you have to stop the bleed in order to save a life,” she said. 

She said that when coming up with her design, she looked at the designs of other types of junctional tourniquet and talked to professionals to find the strength and weaknesses of those designs. 

“They all work, but they all come with their fair share of shortcomings,” she said. 

After her research and interviews, McAfee said the design she came up with is lighter, smaller and more affordable. She said that she also specifically designed it to be something which could be improvised on the battlefield with what medics had on hand. 

“Because soldiers do this, medics have to make use of whatever they have ... a lot of times that means they use rolled up splints, but those aren’t that effective,” she said. 

She said that the new design makes use of a modified M67 grenade pouch and a lacrosse ball, and works. 

“I’m still working out optimizations of the design, but this so far works,” she said, with a laugh.

McAfee added that she was excited to pit her design against other students in the International fair in May. 

“I was really proud of myself for what I was able to do … but the exposure will be great and talking to people from different backgrounds will be really good,” she said. 

Fourteen other students from Forsyth County middle and high schools received awards at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair including Vanessa Ahn, Mary Lichtenwalner, Sudhan Chitgopkar, and Jessica Mitchell from South Forsyth High School; Alayna Daws and Joseph Sexton from West Forsyth High School; Shirin Deepak, Eeshan Mirajkar, Srirag Tatavarti, Shreya Sasmal, Varsha Sudharsan, Pravith Rathin, and Rishit Sarkar from DeSana Middle School; and Nysa Dharan from Piney Grove Middle School. 

A complete list of winners and ribbon recipients can be found at