Device to combat knife crime wins UK Dyson Award

REACT is a handheld device which police and first responders can use to help stem blood loss from stab wounds.

Recent Loughborough University graduate Joseph Bentley has been named the UK winner of the James Dyson Award 2021.

Bentley won the accolade with REACT, a device to help first responders and police stem blood flow caused by knife wounds.

Knife crime on the rise

According to the government, there were 46,000 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales last year. And while the average wait time for an ambulance is only just more than eight minutes, it can take less than five for someone to bleed to death.

Looking to design something that could help this issue after two friends were involved in knife-related incidents, Bentley developed the Rapid Emergency Actuating Tamponade, or REACT for short. The handheld device can be used to treat knife wounds while waiting for further medical assistance to arrive.

The thinking behind the product is based around medical advice which stressed that a knife object should never be removed from a wound if it is still in place.

How it works

REACT works by using a medical-grade silicone balloon tamponade, which is inserted into the wound tract by a first responder.

An actuator device is connected to the tamponade valve, and using the device interface the attending person can select the wound location.

Squeezing the trigger on the actuator starts the automated inflation process, which is informed by the location of the wound. Bentley claims his prototype tamponade can potentially be in place and stopping haemorrhaging in less than a minute.

More effective than current methods

Development for REACT involved research into how paramedics currently treat stab wounds. One such technique, called wound packing, involves tightly packing a wound with gauze which helps to maintain internal pressure to the wound site.

The process can be slow and technical, as well as extremely painful for the victim, according to Bentley. It does often prove successful, but the designer says the technique is not always suitable for wounds in cavities like the abdomen.

During prototyping, he says he found the simple “application and automated inflation procedure” of the REACT system could be more effective for first responders compared to these more traditional methods.

REACT’s next steps

Winning this national arm of the Dyson Award means a £2,000 funding injection for REACT. He says he aims to commercialise the invention in the coming years, and is currently working on securing a patent.

He says the prize money will go towards further research and official medical testing, which he admits “takes a long time”.

REACT will now go onto the international stages of the design competition, where it will be judged alongside the national winners of other countries. The overall winner, and recipient of £30,000, will be announced in November.

Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • Keren August 25, 2021 at 10:57 am

    Brilliant invention! Sad we have got to this stage with knife crime but wonderful to see people doing something productive about it! You will go far Joseph.

  • Will Baxter August 31, 2021 at 10:36 am

    Let me get this right, you insert the new device into the hole caused by the knife (which is now removed) and pump it up so it’s hard and stops the blood flowing out? Then you leave it in there until you get to the surgeon at the hospital?

    So really, they need to give this to the police who are probably the first responders. Seems like a good idea, and small enough to fit inside a police car.

    On the flip side, it might give people a false sense of security that they can then survive knife crime in the first place. Better to ban all knives and guns in the country and give greater penalties to people who commit such crimes. However, that’ll take a century to enforce so this product could be used for at least 100 years. Good luck to Joseph Bentley and I hope he pushes it through to production. If not, I think he’s just won himself a job at Dyson! 🙂

  • Ed Wood September 1, 2021 at 9:03 am

    This device is not for fighting the knife-crime. It is a device for limiting the damage. It is an engineer’s approach to solve one particular problem.
    The knife-crime is a cultural issue and there is not a simple device that can solve it. It would be also very interesting to see the approach coming from the affected community. I guess it would be not a device.

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