The NHS and burns specialists have released new official guidelines advising the public on what to do after an acid attack. The number of attacks with corrosive substances has spiked in the past couple of years, with more than 400 acid or corrosive substance attacks carried out in the six months up to April this year, according to figures from 39 police forces across England and Wales.
Health officials say it is important to act swiftly in the moments after an acid attack to help victims who could be left blinded or severely burned. According to the new NHS advice, victims or witnesses to an attack should report an attack by calling 999, carefully remove any contaminated clothing, and immediately rinse skin under running water.
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The "report, remove, rinse" guidelines have also been shared with emergency responders including police and paramedics so they know what to do if they are called to the scene of an attack with a corrosive substance.
The NHS has released new official advice on what to do in an acid attack
Professor Chris Moran, national clinical director for trauma at NHS England, said: "Whilst this type of criminal assault remains rare, the NHS is caring for an increasing number of people who have fallen victim to these cowardly attacks. One moment of thoughtless violence can result in serious physical pain and mental trauma, which can involve months if not years of costly and specialist NHS treatment. So-called acid attacks are medical emergencies and people should immediately dial 999. We are issuing guidance today that sets out clearly and simply how people can help themselves and others in response to attacks.
"Our guidance will outline what first steps to take in the event of an attack in those crucial minutes before professional clinical help arrives on the scene."
The three simple steps of what to do after an acid attack are:
- Report the attack to 999 immediately
- Remove contaminated clothing carefully
- Rinse skin with running water
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