Although a stab wound usually causes a small opening at the skin it may go very deep, causing serious damage to the body. You need to give first aid quickly if someone’s been stabbed as their life could be at risk.
If you find yourself in a situation where someone has been stabbed you need to try and stay calm.
Taking a couple of slow, deep breaths and then follow these simple steps. You could save someone’s life:
1. Call 999 for an ambulance
2. Apply pressure directly over the wound to stem the bleeding (wear protective gloves if available)
3. If the knife (or any other object) is still in the wound, apply pressure on either side of the object. NEVER REMOVE IT FROM THE WOUND
4. Help the casualty to lie down and elevate the bleeding area above the level of the heart to slow the bleeding.
5. Keep pressure on the wound until an ambulance arrives
Why is it bad to take a knife out after someone gets stabbed?
When you put a knife in someone it damages them but the knife is also like a plug, helping to seal any blood vessels etc that have been severed. By pulling it out you unplug these vessels and worsen the bleeding.
Did you know that when Martin Luther King Jr. was stabbed with a letter opener, everyone wanted to pull it out. He refused and was taken to hospital, where the blade was safely removed. It turned out that letter opener was resting on his aorta and extracting it would probably have killed him.
What should I do if they go into shock?
When someone is stabbed they can go into shock if they lose a lot of blood either internally or externally. This is a potentially life-threatening condition as it means vital organs like the brain and heart are not getting enough oxygenated blood.
What are the signs of shock?
Signs of shock include:
• pale, clammy skin
• a fast, weak pulse
• fast, shallow breathing
First Aid for Shock
• lay the casualty on the floor and elevate their legs above the level of the heart.
• make sure the ambulance is on it’s way
• loosen tight clothing
• keep them warm (but don’t overheat them)
• reassure the casualty
How much blood do you have to lose before you die?
The average adult has 4-6 litres of blood (we have about half a litre of blood per 7kg). Once you have lost one third of your blood, blood pressure falls quickly and the brain is starved of oxygen and death will follow if immediate action is not taken.
Children have less blood than an adult and losing less than a litre of blood can be life-threatening for a baby.
Can you survive a stab wound?
Yes, many people will survive a stab wound if they are given medical treatment quickly. But, as Dr Martin Griffiths, a consultant trauma surgeon at the Royal London Hospital says “No injury is minor. Every one takes a mental and physical toll. This year we will admit 800 stabbing and 60 gunshot victims with life – or limb – threatening injuries. (Guardian Newpaper Article November 2019)
This video from 20 year old Dom explains exactly what happens when you get stabbed: