How to Survive a Knife Attack

Knife attacks have massively increased in recent years, especially in the London area and suburbs where it has been linked to gang and drug crime. Here’s our advice should you be unlucky enough to face a knife attacker.

First Aid
If an attacker uses a knife against you, the chances are that you’ll suffer a stab or slash wound so knowing what to do is vital for survival. For any bleeding, put pressure on the wound and keep the pressure on until medical help arrives.

If the weapon is still in the body, leave it there and apply pressure around the wound. If you remove the weapon, the bleeding could increase. To prevent further injury, it’s advisable that the victim lay down. If they suffer any dizziness from the loss of blood, lay them on their left side in the recovery position.

For wounds to the limbs, apply pressure and elevate the limb above the heart to decrease blood loss.

If blood spurts from the wound, this is a sign that a major blood vessel or artery has been cut. Applying pressure is vital for survival. Cuts to major arteries such as the carotid, femoral or brachial could lead to a quick death.

The rate at which the body loses blood can vary depending on the depth of wound, heart rate and a person’s build. After the loss of 1/3 of blood, the victim may pass out. This may take 20 seconds to 1 minute. The body draws blood from the limbs to protect the heart. Further blood loss will make the body go into irreversible shock leading to death. This may take 1 to 3 minutes.

Victims of knife attack often don’t realise they’ve been stabbed until they notice blood. Being stabbed can feel like being punched at first so it’s important to check yourself for knife wounds as early as possible.

Awareness
Being in the right place at the right time is vital to avoid conflict and consciously building the right habits into your daily routine is key to not being attacked. But however good you are at building the right habits, trouble can still come looking for you. For example, if your job entails that you have contact with the public, such as being a police officer, paramedic, fire fighter or even a shop worker, you may experience conflict and/or violence at work. With increasing levels of mental health issues, drug dependency and alcoholism, it’s no wonder that you’re now more at risk of a knife attack especially if you work closely with the public.

Knife Awareness
Recognising the signs for a potential knife attack is vital for survival. A serving police officer once told me: “If an attacker shows you the knife, they don’t know how to use it”. To increase their chance of winning, a knife attacker will often conceal the weapon until the very last moment. The knife may be concealed under clothing, their clothes may have a bulge in a place easy for their hand to reach or their hand may suspiciously be in their pocket. They may grab you with one hand and have the other hand on their body/concealed weapon. These are signs to look for if you are to successfully avoid an attack. If you can’t see both of the aggressor’s hands then assume that they have a weapon within easy reach.

Knives are close range weapons so always try to maintain a safe distance. However, a close range weapon can also mean that you may not see the knife until the attacker is close, leaving you with very little time to react.

Escape
Trying to escape a knife attack by running away is better than trying to block the attack. Research shows that victims were stabbed fewer times if they ran rather than trying to disarm an attacker. Having an escape route in all eventualities is not always possible but is an ideal to strive for.

Compliance
It doesn’t matter how many years of weapons training you’ve had, when faced with a knife attacker, there’s usually only one winner. And it’s not you. So compliance or giving the knife attacker what they want is essential if you want to survive. ‘A smart phone can be replaced. Your life cannot.’

If an attacker shows the knife to intimidate you, chances are they won’t use it but not always. Why take the chance?

Bad guys are always in a rush to get the job done quickly. The longer the conflict takes, their element of surprise fades, a passer-by might intervene, someone might call the police, you may escape or have your own weapon so it’s in their best interest for the exchange to be brief. It’s also in your best interests to comply immediately. This will increase your chances of not being stabbed and will disguise any intention you may have of, given the opportunity, fighting back.

Using Inanimate Objects as Weapons
Learning basic knife blocking drills is never a bad thing. Being able to use anything to hand as a weapon is even better. Bearing in mind that knives are close range weapons and that you may have only a split second to prevent an ambush, distance is key for survival. Any object you can use to create distance of maybe a yard or more will increase your chances of not getting cut. Time permitting, these everyday objects may help you maintain a safe distance and stop you receiving a fatal wound:
Your belt.
A rucksack.
Your coat.
Coins or a drink to throw at the attackers face.
Anything at hand, eg, a chair or table.

Being aware of what you might be able to use before any potential attack could but you vital seconds.

Summary
Apply pressure to all bleeding wounds and call for medical help immediately.
Be aware that there is the potential to be attacked anywhere in public.
Look out for the signs that an attacker may have a concealed weapon.
Run rather than fight.
Comply with a knife attacker’s demands, if you can.
If possible, keep a safe distance and use anything at hand to defend yourself.