What To Do When You Witness An Accident: First Aid Tips
Although millions across the globe are injured in accidents every year, one can never be fully ready to be the best accident witness. Because of their commonality, you may also be called upon to help as an accident witness yourself. In such a scenario, it would be important to know what to do.
To help you prepare, here are some easy first aid tips to consider before the victim is taken to the emergency room.
Secure The Scene
First things first, if you’re a witness to an accident, you don’t want to risk any more damage or injury, so you have to secure the accident scene. If you’re driving, you’ll need to park your car safely by the side of the road. If you need to protect the victim, you can use your vehicle as a barrier, but make sure you’re not obstructing traffic as this could result in another accident.
After you’ve safely parked, you’ll have to switch on your emergency hazard lights to warn other drivers and alert them about your presence. If you’ve used your car as a bearer, make sure you have effective flashers to alert oncoming traffic about your presence.
An accident can be terrifying and upsetting, but it’s important to remain as calm and collected as possible before you step out to help victims. You’ll make the best decisions when you’re relaxed and composed. To help steady your nerves, you could try deep breaths until you feel calm enough to assist. You may also need to avoid being affected by bystanders or agitated victims when you’re helping out.
Quickly Study The Scene
Before making any calls for help, you may need to scan the area to get a clear picture of what’s happening. Making rush calls before assessing the situation may lead to misinformation and potentially risk your victims. Look out for such things as the number of victims involved and the number of cars. Also, check if there are any children and potential risks like fire, the smell of gas, broken glass, or smoke.
Call Emergency Services
After quickly scanning the scene and arming yourself with relevant information, you can now call the emergency services. Provide all the requested information. And remember, the more information you give, the better will be the response by the emergency workers. If possible, get other witnesses to call emergency services as well.
Approach The Vehicles
When you’ve checked for danger and ensured it’s safe to approach the vehicles, do so cautiously and offer assistance while you wait for professional help. If the victims cannot react to your presence, check to see if the doors are unlocked. Break the windows farthest to them if there’s no other way of opening the doors. Make sure the car engine is turned off before you do anything else.
Ask To Help
Try to ask if a victim needs help before you offer any direct aid. If they say they do, you can go ahead and give the best help possible. If they say no, you can wait for the professionals to assist. You could be sued if you give any nonconsensual help. If the victim is unconscious, however, you can make the best assessment and offer first aid. The law protects you in such instances.
Approach Victims With Caution
When approaching accident victims, always do so cautiously. Accident victims are generally in a panic mode, so they could hurt you or themselves when you approach them. Always talk them through whatever you’re doing to help them relax. Also, give them assurances they’ll be okay.
Avoid Moving Victims
Unless there’s a risk of fire or other dangers, moving accidental victims is not always advisable. Some injuries occur internally and therefore need to be assessed by professionals, who can safely move the victim.
Should you need to move the victim, however, try to approach them while in a kneeling position. When kneeling, you bring yourself to their level, thereby intimidating them less. Your reason for moving the victim should be you want to leave them better than how you found them.
Make Sure The Victim Is Breathing
If an accident victim is unconscious, you must check their airway to ensure they’re breathing properly. To check for breathing, gently tilt the victim’s head and lift the chin to check. You could also examine if the chest is heaving up and down.
If they’re not breathing properly, you may need to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to help them breathe again. But only perform CPR if you know how to do it. Otherwise, you may have to wait for professional responders to do so. To protect the airway, roll the victim sideways and support their neck to avoid any possible neck injury.
It’s generally recommended to perform first aid only when the victim is showing signs of life-threatening injuries. Otherwise, injuries requiring bone splinting or bandaging should be best done by professionals if you’ve already called them.
While waiting for professional help, here are some things you could do:
- Keep the victim as still as possible.
- Talk to the victim to help calm them.
- Use clothes, blankets, or bandages to support the spine.
- Use bandages or clean clothes to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound. Elevating the bleeding areas to chest height may also help reduce the bleeding.
There may be instances of any severed body parts lying around the accident scene. In such a case, you could keep them safe until the medical professionals are able to collect them.
Deal With Shock
Most accident victims experience shock, which can be serious if not treated. The most common symptoms of shock include pale skin. To help treat shock, you could start by loosening any tight clothes. Elevating the victim’s legs is also believed to help reduce shock. Use a blanket or coat to protect the victim from weather elements, like direct sunlight or raindrops.
To Sum It Up
Accidents happen, and knowing what to do is important to save a life if you’re a witness to one. Doing the following is the best you could do to help the victims: clear the area, stay calm, call for help, talk to the victims, administer first aid, and deal with shock. Doing so could certainly save a life. Just remember not to do anything you’re not sure about. Your motto ought to be to leave the victims better than you found them.