Knife Stories: Knives Save Lives

Image courtesy AKI

Knives are among humanity’s oldest tools, and they’re just as useful today as they were for our prehistoric ancestors. We’re always looking for stories that illustrate this utility, and we’ve run a few in our ‘Knife Stories’ series. The American Knife And Tool Institute, it turns out, is way ahead of us.

“A Colorado rancher working on his irrigation system is pinned under a pile of irrigation pipe. As the breath is being squeezed out of him, his only hope is to get to his knife and cut the rope holding the stacks of pipes together. Once the rope is cut, the individual pipes roll off the stack and he escapes with his life.”

Try doing that with your cell phone. With luck, the EMTs would arrive in time to keep the coyotes from having lunch at your expense.

AKTI has a tidy collection of accounts like this, where the quick use of a knife saved lives or prevented serious injury. These aren’t DKUs, but real-life examples of the knife as a lifesaving tool. These accounts are useful for debating hoplophobes, and for reminding fence-sitters that knives are simply tools we all have the right to use.

Check out ‘Knives Save Lives’ for yourself at


  1. David says:

    Could our resident medic tell us how many times he has seen an emergency tracheotomy save lives? I am guessing that a clogged airway is close to as common as cardiac arrest. Maybe a scalpel (or exacto knife) should be included along side a defib machine at schools, gyms, & airports?

    And AKTI knife stories are cool!

    1. Dan says:


      I’ve been in EMS for the past decade, in a busy, busy system. Our system allows cricothyrotomies, but not tracheotomies. The exact number that I have done has been….zero. Zero as well for a well meaning bystander to have performed before I arrived. In fact, in the past 15 years in our system I believe there have been two documented. Cardiac arrest is much more common.

      Additionally, it is a high risk procedure, even by professionals such as myself. Let’s keep the bystander aid to AEDs, chest compressions, and applying pressure to bleeding.

  2. Aharon says:

    Wasn’t there a story within the past twelve months or so about a man who became trapped by a rock while backpacking and proceeded to cut off his arm or hand to free himself and then he walked out to get medical attention?

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      D’oh! 127 Hours!

      1. jwm says:

        I remember a horror story about not having a knife over 20 years ago. The news reported that a car with a woman and a couple of kids and a baby strapped into a car seat caught fire. 2 men got the woman and older kids out safely but the baby was locked in a car seat that jammed and neither man had a knife. Both men got burns but as hard as they tried they couldn’t get that baby free. The baby burned to death.

        A simple, cheap made in pakistan gas station knife could have saved that baby. That was over 20 years ago and whereever those 2 men are today I’ll bet they still hear that baby screaming.

  3. Pat says:

    I don’t know if blades are as useful today as they were in the past because of all the prepackaging centered around not having the need for one (not including those nasty clam spell plastic nightmares). Everybody should still have several, of course.

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Knife Stories: Knives Save Lives

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