The danger caused by knives is still widely underestimated, according to Austrian daily Die Presse.
“Anyone who brandishes a knife at a police officer will inevitably face a firearm,” says a spokesperson for the Vienna police. Police officers are well aware of the danger of knife attacks, and that therefore the only appropriate response to such an attack is to “draw and use the gun”.
And, in fact, not just when the attacker is directly in front of the officer, but also at a distance of, for instance, ten meters. Because, unlike the opponent, the officer cannot know when the attack may come.
In a training video has been demonstrated just how quickly such a situation can escalate: If a police officer does not respond quickly enough to a suspect armed with a knife even at seven meters away, he is likely to be attacked and killed by the suspect. Such an attack takes just a few seconds, and the officer simply has not enough time to draw his weapon and defend himself.
Of course, most people would not be able to use a knife as well as they think they can, but, says the spokesperson, “If the attacker is well-versed in the use of a knife, a civilian has no chance — even at a distance of ten meters.” This is also true of comparable stabbing weapons — for instance, screwdrivers. It is different for civilians than for the police — there is no real understanding of what a knife can do. “Most people are not acquainted with the pictures and videos that we at the police get. And so they have no idea of what serious injuries knives can inflict.”
Among the most significant focal points in the training and advanced training of police officers, as well as in deployment training, is the proper reaction to knife attacks.
Because the number of people who carry knives has risen markedly, it is far more common now to reach for a knife than it was before. Carrying a knife has even become standard practice in some segments of the population — perhaps not always with the intention of using it, but they carry it for “exceptional situations” the spokesperson explained.
Injuries and deaths from knives have increased greatly. This is confirmed by statistics from the Austrian Federal Criminal Police Office. In the last ten years, a 300 percent rise in the incidence of stabbing attacks has been recorded in the country.
Dr Klaus Wolff, is a medical specialist in general surgery, and lecturer in war surgery at the medical faculty of the University of Vienna and is also assigned to military hospitals. Wolff has determined that injuries caused by knives are usually underestimated. They are “mortally dangerous weapons” he says.
The points of the most commonly carried knives can easily penetrate the skin and damage the organs and vessels underneath.
So a stabbing wound may not cause severe external bleeding, thus limiting the fear factor. But internal bleeding is often more life-threatening.
A study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found no significant difference in adjusted overall survival rates between gunshot and stabbing (so-called penetrating trauma injuries) victims, whether they were transported to the emergency department by the police department or the emergency medical services (EMS) division of the fire department.
The study, published online ahead of print in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the Penn researchers launched the largest investigation to date examining the relationship between method of transport and mortality in penetrating trauma.