This year’s UK national James Dyson Award winner attempts to solve the problem of blood loss associated with knife crime and stab wounds, which can result in death.
Knife crime is an issue in many countries around the world and last year, there were around 46,000 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales, which is the highest number of offences since the year ending March 20111. Many of these incidents can result in medical assistance being required, and last year there was 54 per cent increase in admissions to hospitals in England for attacks by sharp objects2.
Joseph Bentley, aged 22 from Essex, is a recent graduate of Product Design and Technology at Loughborough University. He identified that the average wait time for an ambulance is currently just over eight minutes3, yet it can only take five minutes for someone to bleed to death4. Joseph set out on a mission to design a device that could help first responders stem the bleeding. According to his research, the police are often the first trained responders at the scene, but they do not currently have the rapid and accessible tools required to prevent blood loss.
The REACT device (which stands for Rapid Emergency Actuating Tamponade) aims to reduce catastrophic blood loss from a knife wound. The current advice for treating stab wounds is to never remove the knife object from the wound if it is still in place5. This is because the object is applying internal pressure to the wound site whilst also filling the cavity and preventing internal bleeding5. Joseph’s concept is based on the same principle, the implantable medical-grade silicone balloon tamponade would be inserted into the wound tract by a first responder. The actuator device is connected to the tamponade valve, and the user selects the wound location on the device interface. Squeezing the trigger on the actuator starts the automated inflation sequence, and the tamponade is inflated to a defined pressure based on the wound location to try and stem the bleeding.
During the early research and development phases, Joseph discovered that current wound management techniques like wound packing are sometimes used by paramedics to prevent bleeding from stab wounds6. This process involves tightly packing a wound with gauze, which will help to apply pressure internally to the site. According to Joseph, the process can be slow, technical, and extremely painful to the victim, but has in many cases proven to be successful in quickly stopping bleeding from knife wounds.
Despite this, the technique may not be suitable for wounds in cavities like the abdomen, which is the most common area for knife wounds to appear following a knife attack7. During his prototyping, Joseph found that the simple application and automated inflation procedure of the REACT system could be a more effective method for first responders compared to traditional methods. He claims his prototype Tamponade could potentially be in place and stopping haemorrhage in under a minute, which Joseph estimates could save hundreds of lives a year.
This year marked the 17th year of the James Dyson Award, and the 17th year of championing ground-breaking concepts in engineering and design. This year, the award has also seen its highest number of entrants in the Award’s history across all 27 participating nations.
Joseph Bentley, James Dyson Award UK 2021 winner
“Knife crime is a topic that is personal to me, as two of my friends were victims of knife related incidents. Thankfully both incidents were not fatal, but this is often not the case for so many others. Seeing the profound effect that it had on my friends and their families urged me to try and create a solution that could help others in the future.
“I was thrilled when I found out I’d won the national James Dyson Award. This prestigious endorsement confirms that the REACT concept could have real world benefits and a positive impact on society. Although medical device testing takes a long time, I’m looking forward to using the prize money to develop my innovation further and hopefully see the device in the hands of first responders saving lives.”
Dr Alex George, Dyson Ambassador and A&E Doctor
“Sadly, knife crime is on the rise and we’re seeing more and more incidents of knife related injuries in A&E departments in London and across England and Wales.
“Although more needs to be done in the wider community to tackle knife crime at the source, Joseph’s REACT concept could be an impressive solution to help first responders, police officers, and medical professionals deal with these types of injuries, should it pass its medical trials. Time is of the essence in treating these types of injuries and the REACT system could help buy some valuable time before full medical treatment can be administered.
“It’s great to see the James Dyson Award recognising young inventors, and I look forward to seeing how Joseph and the REACT device progress in the future.”
Winning the national leg of the James Dyson Award will inject £2,000 into Joseph’s project. He aims to commercialise his invention in the coming years, using the award money for further research and official medical testing into how the REACT invention can become a global solution to knife wounds and hopefully save lives.
REACT will progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award. In the interim, Joseph is working on securing a patent for this winning design, as well as progressing his concept further with the hope of one day fully commercialising the design. The International shortlist will be announced on 13th October 2021 and the International winners on 17th November 2021. The International winner receives a prize of £30,000, plus £5,000 for their university, and the Sustainability winner also receives a prize of £30,000.
Eli Heath & Pete Barr – University of Brighton
Problem: Enayball is on a mission to celebrate all creative expression, challenge stereotypes, and re-frame ‘disabled artists’ as simply ‘artists’. They do this by designing and creating beautiful and accessible art tools that allow people with disabilities to work and create independently.
Solution: Enayball is an electronic tool that makes traditional art equipment accessible. It can be attached to a wheelchair, drawing on the floor as the person moves their chair. It can also be used on a tabletop by hand, supporting people with dexterity issues.
1 Taken from official National Health Service (NHS) and Office of National Statistics (ONS) data
2 Taken from official National Health Service (NHS) and Office of National Statistics (ONS) data
3 Taken from official National Health Service (NHS) data in November 2020
4 Department of Homeland Security. (2015). Stop the Bleed. [online] Available at: https://www.dhs.gov/stopthebleed
5 Hammett, E. (2020). How to help someone who has been stabbed or is seriously bleeding. [online] First Aid for Life. Available at: https://firstaidforlife.org.uk/knife-crime-serious-bleeding/
6 Hammett, E. (2020). How to help someone who has been stabbed or is seriously bleeding. [online] First Aid for Life. Available at: https://firstaidforlife.org.uk/knife-crime-serious-bleeding/
7 Sugrue, M., Balogh, Z., Lynch, J., Bardsley, J., Sisson, G. and Weigelt, J. (2007). GUIDELINES FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF HAEMODYNAMICALLY STABLE PATIENTS WITH STAB WOUNDS TO THE ANTERIOR ABDOMEN. ANZ Journal of Surgery, 77(8), pp.614–620.