Stab wounds are a form of sharp-force trauma or a breach on the chest cavity that may put the great vessels at risk of penetration. It is often caused by a thrusting action where the force is delivered along the long axis of a narrow and sharp-pointed object. Stab wounds can be a form of accidental, homicidal, or self-inflicted injury.
In light of this, we have put together a guide to help you manage a stab wound injury before the emergency services arrive on the scene.
Minor Stab Wounds
A minor stab wound is classified as a ‘puncture wound’ as the opening on the skin is usually small. This wound type may appear small but is usually deep and carries the risk of infection and internal damage.
Puncture wounds may not bleed much; however, immediate first aid treatment is required to lower the risk of infection.
In critical stab wounds where bleeding is severe, the priority is to control the bleed. If the bleeding is not controlled, the person is likely to develop shock, lose consciousness, and may even become unresponsive.
How to Treat a Stab Wound
Painful and potentially life-threatening stab wounds require first aid treatment to stop bleeding and pain. Prompt treatment also helps to stabilise the victim until medical professionals examine them.
Attending a stab wound requires quick thinking and action to effectively provide the first aid needed to save the victim’s life.
Below is the step by step First Aid for Stab Wounds.
Survey the area
A stabbing injury often occurs within a violent incident or a knife crime. There is a chance that the assailant(s) may still be in the area, which can be dangerous for you and the victim. Only approach the scene once it is established that it is safe for you to do so.
Call for emergency help
If the person is bleeding out, call emergency services or get someone to call while you help the victim. Dial Triple Zero (000) right away.
Lay the person down
Help the person to lie on the ground. This position makes it easier to help stabilise the victim, especially if they start to get dizzy or fall unconscious. You do not want to risk the victim acquiring further injury if they fall while fainting.
Check for injuries
Inspect the victim and try to determine the extent of the injury.
Check the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation)
Ensure that the victim’s airway remains unobstructed. Look for any signs of breathing and watch their chest for any movement. Check the victim’s pulse to make sure the heart is still breathing, and if the person is unresponsive to touch or feel, perform CPR.
Do NOT remove the stabbing object
If the embedded object is still inside the victim, it is best to leave it there. The embedded object helps to stem the blood flow from the wound. Pulling it out can increase the blood flow, while pushing it may cause damages to the internal organs. It is best to leave this job with a medical professional who will be able to remove the object without causing massive blood loss or damaging any internal organs.
Cover the dressing
If you have a first aid kit on hand or have any first aid materials with you, use bandages and tape to fasten the dressing in place.
Continue to apply pressure to the wound until help arrives
While waiting for paramedics to arrive, monitor the victim’s airway, breathing, and circulation. Look for symptoms of shock and provide first aid. Symptoms of shock may include having cool, clammy skin, rapid pulse or breathing, nausea, and loss of consciousness. If you suspect a person is in shock, loosen any tight clothing and cover them with a warm blanket. Try to get the person to stay still as possible.
First Aid for Stab Wounds
Equipping everyone with basic life support skills and the knowledge to help themselves or others in emergencies can save lives. First Aid training is an obvious step in the fight to reduce fatalities from stab wound injuries.