Blood Loss

I was digging around in a stack of articles I intended to read and I ran across one written by Michael Janich entitled Blood Loss: Facts and Fiction, in Tactical Knives (Jan 2010).  Since we do a lot of knife training, I found the information very interesting because I have heard so many competing stories over the years about how long it actually takes for people to lose consciousness and/or die from a stab wound.  Apparently, many practitioners and instructors (including LEOs) over the years relied upon and referenced the “Timetable of Death” laid out by W.E. Fairbairn in his classic text Get Tough.  Fairbairn never revealed how he came to his conclusions, and though he is well-respected (rightly so!) for his contributions in combatives, a lot of folks have wondered about the accuracy of the table.  An LEO and defensive tactics instructor, Christopher Grosz, decided to put Fairbairn’s assertions to the test based on modern medical data. 

Based on a ton of research, and the aid of Medical Examiner, Dr. Michael Doberson, in Arapahoe County, Colorado as well as other edged weapons instructors, the data Fairbairn provided did not really stack up with Grosz’ findings, nor did Fairbairn take into account the effects of increased heart rate.  Janich illustrates a comparison: 

Well, according to Fairbairn, a severed carotid artery would produce unconsciousness in 5 seconds and death in 12.  In reality, even at maximum heart rate of 220 beats per minute, Grosz’ calculations indicated that unconsciousness occurs after 68 seconds and death 91 seconds—a huge difference that could drastically affect the outcome of a defensive encounter. 

Well, that’s very interesting, indeed!  Janich suggests that we need to re-think our tactics as it relates to stopping the threat in a lethal encounter.  What does this mean?  It means that even if you stab someone in a vital target area to save your own hide, this assailant still has plenty of time to try and kill YOU, even if he does die from his wounds later on.  Sobering thought! 

Christopher Grosz’ findings have been posthumously published, by Paladin Press, in the book entitled Contemporary Knife Targeting.  Michael Janich, an exemplary human being, completed the book for Grosz and signed over royalties to his wife and family!


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