What to do immediately after a knife attack

In the unlikely event that you are ever a victim of, or a witness to, a knife attack there are some practical steps you can take to make sure that you and those around you stay as safe as possible. While it would be perfectly natural to panic when someone has just been harmed, time is important. Learning these steps can help you know how to respond quickly and appropriately.

Watch young people learning about how to react swiftly and safely to an attack, from the BBC Panorama special, Knives in the classroom

Street Doctors have this vital advice to follow immediately if you ever experience or witness a stabbing:

1. Keep yourself safe

  • By safe, we mean out of harm's way. If there is an active argument or crime scene and it's not safe to stay with someone who's been hurt, get to a place of safety such as a shop, cafe, restaurant, gym, youth centre or police, ambulance or fire station. Go to where there are adults or members of the public.
  • When you're safe, call for help by dialling 999. Ask for an ambulance.

2. Apply pressure to the wound

  • First check there is no sharp object in the wound. If there is no sharp object present you can apply pressure directly to the wound. If you have something to wrap around your own hands, such as clothing or a scarf, etc. you can use that.
  • If a sharp object is present DO NOT remove it. If you can do so without hurting yourself, you can apply pressure by placing your hands to the sides of the object on the person’s body, and pushing down. Keep your hands a safe distance from the sharp object.
  • Applying pressure might cause discomfort to the person, but the more pressure you apply, the greater your chance of helping a blood clot to form and preventing further loss of blood.

3. Keep calm

  • We know that this would be a really stressful situation but if you can, be as calm as possible and stay on the phone with the ambulance staff. They can offer you real-time help.

4. Emergency first aid

  • If the person is not breathing, perform chest compressions by placing your hands on top of each other and pushing down in the centre of their chest.
  • If you're unsure what to do the ambulance staff on the phone will help you.
  • You can get trained in first aid, or even ask your school to arrange first aid training.

5. Protecting yourself

  • If you're unsure about a situation or something you think might happen, go home and talk to an adult you trust.
  • Remember you will not get in to trouble for delivering first aid to help keep someone alive.

BBC Panorama Knives in the Classroom is on BBC iPlayer.

Being prepared for this doesn’t mean being scared of it happening. Check out Staying street safe in the face of knife crime to read about practical ways to be street-safe.

Where to find support

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised here, either as a witness or victim of crime, you can visit Victim Support for practical and emotional support in England and Wales, or Victim Support Scotland and Victim Support Northern Ireland.

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