How to Treat a Puncture Wound as a Zero Responder

Aug 8, 2023

Puncture wounds can happen unexpectedly, whether it’s stepping on a sharp object or in extreme circumstances, a knife attack. While most people may instinctively respond to such injuries, there are situations where you might find yourself as the first aider, or “zero responder,” on the scene. Your timely and correct actions can make a significant difference in the outcome of the wound. In this blog, we’ll guide you through essential steps on how to treat a puncture wound as a zero responder, along with some crucial do’s and don’ts.

Understanding puncture wounds

Before delving into the treatment process, it’s important to understand what a puncture wound is. Puncture wounds are injuries that occur when a pointed object penetrates the skin, creating a small, deep hole. These wounds can vary in severity, from minor scratches to potentially life-threatening situations if they are not properly cared for.

Knife crime statistics

Currently in the UK, knife crime is significantly on the rise. 

  • In 2022 there was a 6% rise in knife crime in England and Wales
  • There were 49,265 police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in 2022.

Sources: benkinsella.org.uk

Not only this, but 35% of pre-hospital fatalities are due to bleeding from a traumatic injury, such as a stab wound or shooting. Whilst we cannot change laws, we can only but continue to educate the youth and public of the extreme dangers of carrying these deadly weapons – it’s simply not worth the risk. Let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts on treating a puncture wound if you are the first at the scene, before medical personnel.


How to Treat a Puncture Wound as a Zero Responder


Do’s for treating puncture wounds 

Assess the Safety:

Prioritise safety for both the injured person and yourself. If the incident occurred in a hazardous environment, like an area with potential threats, ensure your safety before approaching the injured person.

Call for Help:

If the wound appears severe or life-threatening, call emergency services immediately. Professional medical assistance is crucial for severe stab wounds.

Control Bleeding:

Apply direct pressure using a clean cloth or sterile gauze to control bleeding. Elevate the wound, if possible, to help minimise blood flow.

Keep the Object In Place:

If an object is protruding from the wound, avoid removing it. Removing the object could worsen bleeding and cause additional damage. Instead, stabilise the object and the wound around it.

Cleanse the Surrounding Area:

Gently clean the area around the wound with clean, running water to minimise the risk of infection. Do not flush the wound directly, as it may push debris deeper.

Apply Sterile Dressing:

Cover the wound with a sterile dressing or a clean cloth to protect it from further contamination and minimise the risk of infection.

Keep the Person Calm:

Emotional stress can exacerbate bleeding and shock. Keep the injured person as calm and still as possible while waiting for professional medical help.

Provide Reassurance:

Offering comfort and reassurance can help alleviate anxiety and contribute to a more stable emotional state.


Don’ts for treating puncture wounds


Don’t Remove Embedded Objects:

Avoid removing any objects that are stuck in the wound. Moving the object can worsen bleeding and cause more damage. Stabilise the object and the wound instead.

Don’t Delay Medical Assistance:

Even if the wound appears minor, seek medical attention to evaluate the extent of the injury and prevent potential complications.

Don’t Apply Excessive Pressure:

While controlling bleeding is important, avoid applying excessive pressure that could cause additional harm or damage to tissues.


Don’t Touch the Wound with Bare Hands:

Ensure your hands are clean or wear disposable gloves when providing initial aid to prevent introducing infection-causing bacteria to the wound. You can utilise a bleeding control pouch, which contains gloves and all you need to treat a bleed. They are easy to carry around on a belt as they are compact and user-friendly for any skill level.


Don’t Use Harsh Antiseptics:

Avoid using strong antiseptics or substances like hydrogen peroxide directly on the wound, as they can damage tissue. Clean the area gently with water.

Responding to a puncture wound emergency as a zero responder requires quick thinking, a calm demeanour, and proper knowledge of immediate actions.

Your intervention can significantly impact the person’s outcome and recovery. Remember that while these guidelines provide initial assistance, seeking professional medical help remains crucial for evaluating and treating the wound comprehensively. Having quick and easy access to bleeding control medical supplies cannot be underestimated, wherever you are. Take a look at our bleeding control pouches and even wall stations, that you can mount in your home, business or workplace. We’re proud to be able to educate, equip and empower all to save lives. 

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