Applying any form of physical intervention strategy is challenging. Risks abound. Staff can lose their balance, they can collide with inanimate objects such as furniture and the walls, and of course they can be physically attacked. The latter involves punches and kicks, but one of the most difficult things that staff may have to contend with is a human bite.

Dealing with bitesThe latest incident of ‘Air Rage’ to hit the UK headlines highlights the nature of the danger posed by bites. Joshua McCarthy, a 21 year old electrician from Sidcup in Kent, was on a recent flight from Dubai to Heathrow when he became aggressive. This was after he was reported to have drunk five small bottles of wine. The court heard that stewardess Hayley Morgan had apparently asked him to ‘calm down’ when he became angry and aggressive. He shouted 'I'm going to kill you' after he had called her a 'f**king red-haired Nazi b***h'. It was at this point that another passenger Christopher McNerlin intervened. In response to this good Samaritan intervention McCarthy seized McNerlin’s arm and bit him.

In addition to the trauma associated with such an attack there is the prospect of tissue damage and scarring as well as infection, as was the case here. Its worth noting that there are more than 600 types of bacteria present in the human mouth at any time including strains of staph and strep. Those bacteria could lead to conditions like cellulitis, lymphangitis, or impetigo. A bite can also lead to transmission of diseases like hepatitis if present within the ‘biter’, and blood to blood contact is made (perhaps if they have sustained injuries during the physical struggle or have been self-injuring).

Risk Manager at SecuriCare Lee Hollins says, “A bite is quite a common response from someone who is being held and can't immediately use their hands to facilitate a release or an escape.. Often the pain caused, commonly magnified by the fear such an ‘attack’ engenders, is enough for the victim of the bite to relinquish their hold of the person and step away… In which case the objective has been achieved..”

“The truth is that there is no easy way of dealing with bites, especially those when someone actually ‘latches’ on. At SecuriCare we are always focused on prevention, so spend a lot of time on courses discussing how to avoid being bitten when dealing with someone who is displaying active physical aggression. This is a much higher risk when staff are working at close quarters in order to apply some form of restraint procedure.. Yes there are techniques designed to release a bite but any training programme should focus on prevention…”

The NHS Choices website offers the following advice If you've been bitten by another person:

  • Clean the wound immediately by running warm tap water over it for a couple of minutes – it's a good idea to do this even if the skin doesn't appear to be broken
  • Remove any objects from the bite, such as teeth, hair or dirt
  • Encourage the wound to bleed slightly by gently squeezing it, unless it's already bleeding freely
  • If the wound is bleeding heavily, put a clean pad or sterile dressing over it and apply pressure
  • Dry the wound and cover it with a clean dressing or plaster
  • Take painkillers if you're in pain, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • Seek medical advice, unless the wound is very minor

SecuriCare offer a range of courses designed to enable staff to best respond to any ‘Disruptive’, ‘Challenging’ or Violent’ behaviour that may occur. All programmes are finalised after full training needs analysis and delivered by experienced frontline practitioners.

Contact us for more information and to discuss your needs: E: trainers@securicare.com or T: 01904 492442

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