A university student has designed a potentially life-saving device that first responders can use to rapidly stop catastrophic blood loss from knife wounds.
Joseph Bentley, a final year product design and technology student at Loughborough University, has developed REACT – a prototype which uses pressure at the wounded area to prevent bleeding.
The device targets wound areas that are normally hard to treat, such as those in the armpit, groin and abdomen.
A victim of a stabbing can bleed to death in just five minutes, so the priority for first responders is to stop excessive blood loss.
Paramedics have wound pack kits that they use to treat stab victims but as police are usually first on the scene, Mr Bentley wanted to create a product they could use.
He said that REACT is quicker and more effective than the traditional method of wound packing and can be safely removed in surgery once it has served its purpose.
He said: “Police and paramedics normally use a bleed control kit that contains gauze that they press into the wound with large amounts of force.
“In some circumstances, the gauze can be pushed into the wound in a procedure known as wound packing.
“This gauze fills up the space inside the wound, providing internal pressure to the site and pinching close any potential severed arteries.
“This is not viable in wounds in a cavity like the abdomen, as you would run out of gauze trying to fill up the empty space.”
He said that REACT works on the same principle, but does this “quicker and simpler than wound packing, which can take up to a minute and if it isn’t packed in tight enough first time needs to be removed and started again”.
Mr Bentley added: “REACT can also be removed in surgery just as quick and safe.
“When surgeons try and remove gauze from a wound, it often rips out the blood clot with it, causing bleeding to resume.
“REACT works like the balloon on the inside of papier mache, and can be removed safely leaving the clot intact.”
The device is made up of two parts: a silicon sleeve, known as a tamponade, and a handheld device, called an actuator.
The tamponade is first inserted into the wound and then connected to the actuator.
After locating the wound on the device, the actuator then inflates to a defined pressure based on the wound location, to prevent internal bleeding.
Mr Bentley said: “The simple application and automated inflation procedure of the REACT system makes it a game changer for first responders.
“The tamponade can be in place and stopping haemorrhage in under a minute, saving hundreds of lives a year.”
Impaled objects should never be removed from stab wounds as they apply internal pressure, but Mr Bentley said emergency responders can use the device in cases where the wound is open.
Mr Bentley, who has filed for a UK patent for the REACT system, aims to further develop the prototype to include wound locations in other parts of the body.
He also wants to make it internally battery-powered and fine-tune the required air pressure in the tamponade.
Mr Bentley said: “Medical device development takes a long time, but hopefully in a few years the REACT system will be used to control the bleeding in victims of knife crime and save lives.
“I’m hoping one day it will be carried by all emergency services: police, ambulance staff, even the military, but the absolute goal is to get this product in use as soon as possible.”