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CT Insight speaks with our co-founder, Alex Chivers

At RAPAID, our mission is to put our life-saving emergency bandage kits into public places where any member of the public can use them to stop the bleed, without the need for any specialist training. It’s an initiative that could prevent casualties from becoming fatalities following a terror attack, helping them to survive in those first precious minutes until the emergency services arrive.

Recently, our co-founder, Alex Chivers, sat down and spoke to CT Insight to tell them more about the charity, our mission, and how we are working with the counter terrorism supply chain to help integrate emergency bandages into preparedness strategies.

What are your emergency bandages kits?

Our kits are paramedic-style bags containing emergency bandages, protective gloves and simple, laminated, rigid instruction cards, with step-by-step images of how to use the bandages on an injured person. It’s really important that the kits are robust, can be wiped clean, and adhere to all heath and safety standards in order to be kept in public, so we have used exactly the same fire-retardant, anti-microbial material that the NHS specifies for the bags, along with vacuum-sealed, military-grade bandages. That means the bandages remain protected and sterile ready for use as and when they’re needed, with an 8 year shelf life.

We have two different kits; an 4-bandage kit and a 20-bandage kit for major events, which is housed on a free-standing unit.

What is the difference between an emergency bandage and an ordinary bandage?

Our emergency bandages are of a type sometimes called Israeli bandages that are carried and used by the military in the field. They are designed specifically to be used by non-medics to stop the bleed – even an arterial bleed – following an injury. They are simple to use and have a padded section and an integral pressure bar applicator that applies up to 30lbs of direct pressure onto an injury. The user simply wraps the bandage around the affected area, ensuring the padded section is over the wound, then feeds the bandage through the pressure bar applicator and winds it back around the affected area in the opposite direction, which automatically applies consistent and secure pressure to the wound to stop the bleed. All they need to do then is keep winding until they reach the end of the bandage, and secure the end by tucking it in. It takes less than a minute, and could save a life.

Why is it so important to stop the bleed?

How quickly someone might bleed out from a serious injury or arterial wound depends on a number of factors, but it is usually somewhere between two and five minutes – usually less than the time it takes for an ambulance to reach the scene. An emergency bandage is not a substitute for medical treatment, but it buys time for the casualty that could enable them to survive an otherwise fatal wound. The sooner direct pressure is applied or treatment begins the better the chances of survival. Time literally saves lives!

When it comes to learning from the experience of terror attacks, we know from the Manchester Arena Inquiry that some of the victims may have survived if there had been first-aid equipment to hand to stop the bleed. That’s why the RAPAID team is so passionate about putting the kits in public places and so delighted to be working with partners in the counter terrorism sector.

What have you done so far to enable people to access your emergency bandages kits?

We have worked with individual visitor attractions, businesses and hotels to provide kits in exchange for a donation to the charity, which we plough straight back into buying more kits. Our main focus, however, has been on installing kits in black cabs in cities across the country. The principle is simple: taxis are in constant circulation in our towns and cities, so, if someone needs help, there will always be one close by. We don’t expect the cab drivers to use the kits – though they can if the need arises – we just ask them to carry the kit so that it’s available whenever a member of the public needs one.

The cab drivers have been brilliant, so many of them have told us stories about incidents where they could have helped if they’d had a kit available and they’re really keen to get involved. We install the kit in the cab for them, and put a sticker in the front and rear window so that people can see instantly if the cab is carrying a RAPAID kit.

So far, we have equipped cabs in Oxford, Swindon, Exeter, Manchester and London, and we’ve just begun the roll out in Plymouth. There are RAPAID kits in 2000 London cabs and counting, with the full support of TfL and the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association.

How are you working with the counter terrorism community?

Our major events kits are ideal for large venues, such as exhibition centres and stadiums, and would also be perfect for transport hubs. We are working with specialists in HVM specification and deployment, including SAFECROWDS and Crowdguard, who have bought kits from us to deploy at events with temporary HVM equipment. It connects the dots between prevention and preparedness, with event organisers and venues recognising the need to put risk mitigation in place to help prevent attacks, while recognising that there’s a need to be ready to help casualties should the worst happen.

What steps are you taking to spread the word to more potential counter terrorism partners?

We’re excited to be exhibiting at the CTX exhibition this year, which will enable us to talk to lots more stakeholders in the counter terrorism sector. It will be a great environment to showcase what we’re doing, demo the bandages and engage with others. Collaboration is key to developing robust counter terrorism strategies that both prevent attacks and protect people if the unthinkable happens.

What can potential partners do if they want some kits?

We’d be delighted to work with more counter terrorism partners, and they can either contact us direct, or procure their kits through our online sales partner Openhouse. The proceeds from every bag sold go straight back into the charity to buy more bags, so any counter terror businesses that support us are not only ensuring that help is on hand to stop the bleed in the event of a terror attack, they are also helping to get more kits into circulation.