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.