Police and paramedics are crediting the bravery and fast actions of neighbours and passersby with saving the lives of a young mother and her 18-month-old girl.

A Hamilton man is charged with attempted murder after the quadruple stabbing that shocked a central neighbourhood Tuesday afternoon.

Yesterday, police and paramedics praised the efforts of residents who rushed to provide first aid to the woman and her child and the actions of the Good Samaritan who, according to witnesses, tried to help the pair flee their attacker by loading them in his van.

'They heroically became involved in an incident that was unknown to them, putting themselves in harm’s way.' —Hamilton Police statement

He also suffered stab wounds when the attacker managed to make his way into the van, according to neighbourhood residents.

"It is apparent to investigators that the unselfish actions of many residents in the neighbourhood .. saved the lives of several people including a woman and her 18-month-old  toddler. They heroically became involved in an incident that was unknown to them, putting themselves in harm’s way," said police in a release Wednesday.

None of the people who offered assistance has been identified by police.

Phillip Allen, 37, is expected in court Thursday to be remanded into custody, said Det. Sgt. Joe Stewart.

Allen is charged with two counts of attempted murder and assault with a weapon. Stewart said Allen is known to the woman and her child, but would not go into detail about their relationship. Allen also suffered stab wounds.

Police were alerted to the stabbing after a van crashed into a truck on Eastbourne Avenue, between Cumberland Avenue and Delaware Avenue around 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Rushing out to help

Neighbours and passersby reacted right away when they heard the crash and saw the victims out on the street.

EMS supervisor Craig McCleary said his paramedic, who arrived on scene first, found three women from the neighbourhood helping out with first aid kits and towels to contain blood.

"One woman was really instrumental in calming the infant down," McCleary said. "The neighbourhood all came together which was nice."

The young child was taken to McMaster Children's Hospital with knife wounds to her shoulders, body and head, he said. The young mother was also taken to hospital with stab wounds, Hamilton EMS says.

The third victim, the driver of the van, who didn't know the woman,  ended up with stab wounds to his arms.

"He was in the area at the time," Stewart said. "Fortunately, he provided much needed assistance."

That man, the Good Samaritan, McCleary said — also got some help from neighbours.

One of those who helped was Jeanne Dacey.

 She told CBC Hamilton she heard a noise outside her home like children screaming, and went outside to investigate.

Chaotic scene

She saw the mother and her daughter bleeding on the side of the street. She rushed back to her house and asked her husband Steve to grab towels and their first aid kit.

"The kid was screaming. She was in obvious pain," Dacey said. "She had a fairly big gash on her leg. She had a cut on her neck and her ear was pretty badly severed."

"It was extremely chaotic. She (the mother) was fairly hysterical. It was her baby." A fourth man had collapsed on a lawn nearby, also covered in blood. Dacey says she saw a "fold out knife" that was about eight-inches long including the handle on the ground nearby.

 Related: Mother, baby escape screwdriver attack in north Hamilton

Dacey says the woman told her she and her baby had left their home on Holton Avenue South around the corner where the initial attack occurred.

After fleeing the home, they got into a van with a man they didn't know who was trying to get them to safety, she says. Somehow, their alleged attacker also made it into the van, and it crashed on nearby Eastbourne Avenue.

"It's scary and shocking," said another neighbour Carla Piccolo. She has lived on Eastbourne Avenue for almost 20 years. "Everybody had the same reaction — that it was shocking. You hear about it around, but you never think it's going to happen on your street."

All injuries are serious, but non-life threatening, Summers said.