A youth centred initiative set up by PCSO Rachel Hopton took place at SkillZONE recently. Gloucestershire Police, together with officers from Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS), South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWAST) and Safer Gloucester (Gloucester City Council) showed youngsters the real dangers of carrying knives.
A group of 11 youngsters who have been involved in juvenile criminality, or have previously been found to carry a knife, were invited to take part in a simulated storyline of what can happen when a person is stabbed and suffers a fatal injury. Some of the people taking part were actors, but the paramedics, police and fire officers are real professionals committed to showing young people the true impact of knife crime. They have all attended genuine emergency calls where someone has been stabbed and lost their life.
The day started with the young people arriving at SkillZONE; they didn’t know the content of the day beforehand. They were told to board the bus in the SkillZONE village and await further instructions. On the bus were actors and an argument breaks out between them, culminating in one of the actors being fatally stabbed. The offender runs from the scene, but is later arrested by police officers for murder. When the offender is searched, still wearing bloodstained clothes, a knife is found on him.
In the photographs below we see the mocked up scene in the road centre where someone has been ‘stabbed’ on a bus. The SWAST rapid response team arrive with their life saving equipment and SWAST volunteer, Nathan Wilson, had plastic bottles of fake blood attached to him. The bags total the amount of blood the average human body holds and showed how quickly (around 3 minutes) the blood escapes from the body leading to death. It can be difficult to see the extent of damage and blood loss when blood initially is absorbed by clothing – someone might not even realise straightaway that they have been stabbed. The youngsters watched as the professional paramedics try but fail to save the victim’s life. The victim dies and is zipped into a body bag as a police scene guard is set up while the distraught mother and friends of the victim arrive and lay flowers.
The second part of the day involved the youngsters learning some basic first aid on fake injuries. They were taught how to apply pressure to various bleeding stab wounds as well as how to do CPR on a special training doll – an exhausting procedure!
The afternoon continued with roleplay and input from various teams including firearms and dog officers. A dog was deployed to restrain and detain someone who refuses to put a weapon down and firearms officers showed how a split second decision has to be made when faced with someone brandishing a firearm – is it fake or is it real? If offenders brandish a weapon, whether fake or real, they could end up dead having been shot by a firearms officer.
Other contributors to the day included Restorative Gloucestershire who talked about the ripple impact on friends and family following the loss of a loved one through violence. Leon Hobson of Fearless, a youth based initiative from CrimeStoppers, told his story of being stabbed in London 10 years ago, together with mentors from Great Expectations.
Taking part are the Harm Reduction Team - PC Helen Martin, PC Matt Bishop, PCSO Rachel Hopton together with PS Emma MacDonald. The SWASFT paramedics are Becky Wilson, Liz Griffith and Andy Hughes, who is a SCAST HART paramedic.
SkillZONE is a state-of-the-art life size village based in Tuffley, Gloucester. It is a fully interactive learning environment to teach people of all ages how to recognise dangerous situations and stay safe. There are 16 zones, which will cover a range of scenarios including road, rail and water safety, an internet cafe, as well as opportunities to cover home and personal safety. http://skillzone.glosfire.gov.uk/