REACT device offers hope for victims of knife attacks

Knife attack victims could be saved with REACT, a new method for rapidly stopping blood loss from a knife wound.

REACT, developed by Joseph Bentley, a final year Product Design and Technology student at Loughborough University, is designed for use by first responding police officers while waiting for an ambulance.

A victim of a stabbing can bleed to death in just five minutes, so the priority for first responders is to control bleeding from the wound.

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Police officers are often the first emergency personnel to arrive at a scene, so the speed at which they administer bleed prevention treatment is paramount to increasing the chances of survival.

Applying internal pressure is key when dealing with stab wounds and REACT – Rapid Emergency ACtuated Tamponade – is based on this principle.

Impaled objects should not be removed from stab wounds as they apply internal pressure, but in cases where the wound is open, emergency responders could use the REACT device, which is comprised of a medical-grade silicone sleeve (the tamponade) and a handheld actuator.

The emergency responder would be first required to insert the tamponade into the wound. They would then connect the actuator to the tamponade via a valve and select on the device the area of the body where the wound is located. The actuator would then inflate to a defined pressure based on the wound location, preventing internal bleeding.

Bentley has created a 3D-printed semi-functional prototype, with working side and rear user interface, side LEDs, and actuator.

REACT
The emergency responder would first insert the tamponade and then use the actuator to inflate it (Image: Loughborough University)

The prototype is currently targeted at junctional wounds such as those in the armpit and groin areas and the abdomen, a location paramedics and emergency first aid professionals told Bentley is hard to treat.

“The simple application and automated inflation procedure of the REACT system makes it a game-changer for first responders,” Bentley said in a statement. “The tamponade can be in place and stopping a haemorrhage in under a minute, saving hundreds of lives a year, and as the tamponade is suitable for large cavities like the abdomen, it is also easier and faster to remove than current methods used to stop bleeding, giving the patient the best chance in reconstructive surgery.”

Bentley is now looking to further develop REACT by extending it to other wound locations on the body, making it internally battery-powered, and perfecting the required air pressure in the tamponade.

“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,” he said. “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.”

The REACT system has been filed for a UK patent.