The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have another good article up, this one on stab wounds. There are pictures with stab wounds on the page, so that’s a warning if you have a light stomach.
Any disaster puts your people at risk for injury. Wounds caused by sharp objects can be life-threatening, depending on the organs and blood vessels damaged.
Stab wounds are a type of penetrating trauma, which is further divided into perforating and non-perforating injuries. A perforating wound is one in which the object causing the damage goes into one side of the body and then exits through the other side. A wound from .223 or NATO .556 would, commonly, be an example of perforating trauma.
Bullets and other high-speed projectiles cause damage not only from the act of penetration, but also the shock wave produced as the bullet passes through the body. Luckily, low speed projectiles such as knives will not do this. Your concerns are related specifically to the area of entry and the structures located directly in the path of the offending instrument.
Stab wounds are an example of a non-perforating wound: the projectile causing the damage enters the body and either stays there or exits where it entered. Some sharp instruments could possibly do this, say a crossbow bolt or a spearhead, but let’s assume that you’ll be unlikely to see these.
With stab wounds, blood loss and failure of damaged organs will be the major issue. A little about blood: Blood carries oxygen to the tissues and organs and removes waste products. It is made up of several components, including:
- Red blood cells: These cells carry oxygen to body tissues.
- White blood cells: These cells work to, among other things, fight infection and disease.
- Platelets and other clotting factors: These allow blood to coagulate and lessen blood loss.
- Plasma: A yellowish liquid in which the above are suspended.
Your immediate action upon encountering a victim of a wound with a sharp instrument may save their life. The heart takes less than one minute to pump blood to the entire body; if the circulatory system is breached, blood loss becomes life-threatening very quickly.
180 lb. (about 70 kg.) adult males have approximately 9-10 pints (about 5 liters) of blood in their body. Athletes and those living at very high altitudes may have more. You can’t afford to lose more than 40% of total blood volume without needing major resuscitation. To get an idea of how much blood this is, empty a 2 liter bottle of fruit punch or cranberry juice on the floor. You’ll be surprised at how much fluid that represents…