The following article from the Austrian daily Die Presse reminds me of an old Arab proverb: A thousand throats may be cut in a single night by a running man.
Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
The Knife — The Underestimated Threat
A knife attack can quickly end in death; many are not aware of that
by Köksal Baltaci
January 15, 2019
VIENNA: It is cheap, easy to get, easy to hide — and as a weapon can quickly become life-threatening. Even though reports of attacks resulting in death or severe injury are commonplace, the danger caused by knives is still widely underestimated.
“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.
A training video that may also be found on diverse internet sites demonstrates how quickly such a situation can escalate. A policeman who does not take seriously a man who is armed with a knife standing around seven meters away is attacked and killed by him. The attack takes just a few seconds, and the policeman has no chance 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 practiced 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 police get. And so they have no idea of what serious injuries knives can inflict.”
Emphasis on Education
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 — to be sure, not always with the intention of using it; but it would be used in “exceptional situations.”
So injuries and deaths from knives have increased greatly. This is confirmed by statistics from the Federal Criminal Police Office. In the last ten years, a 300% rise in the incidence of stabbing attacks has been recorded in Austria.
Dr. Klaus Wolff, specialist in general surgery, lecturer in war surgery on the medical faculty of the University of Vienna and commandant to military hospitals, has determined that injuries caused by knives are usually underestimated. They are “mortally dangerous weapons.” 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 life-threatening.