Try this for a scenario; we are driving down the road when all of a sudden we come across a road traffic crash where we are the only individuals available. Suddenly two questions come running through your mind, What do I have to do? What can I do to help?
Lets face it we spend a lot of time on the road and this is a scenario that could happen at any time.
Queensland law imposes an obligation on any person involved in a road traffic crash to stop at the scene, render any assistance that is needed to the best of their ability and call for medical help. If you weren't involved in the accident, under Australian Law, a member of the public or a first aider in the community has no legal obligation requiring them to stop and render assistance. However the question you have to ask yourself is, "What if that were my family in the car?"
Many people choose to drive past due to fear which is understandable but as you will find out, any help is better than nothing at all and you will see, no matter how big the scene may seem at the time we won't be doing a lot, yet we will be achieving heaps.
Like all other forms of first aid, the first priority at the scene of a crash is safety to our selves and bystanders before we go over to the patient. There are so many hazards at a crash scene and by having a good look around you will be able to identify most of them on approach such as downed power lines, leaking fuels or chemicals, debris or unstable terrain and the big one, other traffic. Once we get closer, look for vehicle stability, un-deployed air bags as well as domestic animals as we just don't know how they will react if injured. And then call '000' (triple zero) in Australia or 911 in the USA.
If it is not safe to approach we can still do plenty to help. The biggest thing we can do is talk to our patient. Put yourself in their shoes. They will probably be scared and very anxious. By talking to them and reassuring the injured patient, you will lessen anxiety which in turn will bring down the heart rate reducing the blood loss or if need be, talking to them may keep them awake and conscious. Either way you are helping your patient a lot without even having to approach.
If it is safe to approach the first thing we want to do is to glove up. A good pair of non-latex gloves is essential to keep in the car for use at times like these as barriers to infection. You must at this point turn off the ignition of the crashed vehicle. What you have to understand is at the scene of an accident a person may survive the initial impact but die later on. If they are unconscious the patient may die from airway obstruction by foreign materials or by swallowing their tongue, worse still they could bleed to death. If you find that the patient is unconscious, turn the patient onto their side and clear the air way. If it is not possible to move your patient onto their side, then gently tilt the head back to open the air way and stop any bleeding promptly by applying direct pressure to the wound.
If a first aid kit is not available, you can stop the bleeding by using clothing as a pad or what ever you have available such as a towel or car seat covers. If the patient is conscious you should stop any bleeding promptly again with direct pressure and immobilise any fractures, then let the patient assume a position of comfort while constantly communicating with them for reassurance. This will allow you help the patient minimise their anxiety and keep them conscious.
Keep in mind if you are treating the patient and you don't see a deployed air bag, keep clear and never position yourself between an un-deployed airbag and the patient as it could deploy at any time. Stay with your patient until further help arrives.
What you should see, is that we can do big things in helping patients at these scenes without actually doing much at all. Just remember the quicker you make the call to '000' (triple zero) in Australia or 911 in the USA the quicker someone will be there to help.
Author: Chris Le Roy
One-on-One Professional Business Training provides you with a range of first aid courses to help you deal with the situations mentioned in this article. We run regular first aid courses Brisbane at three different locations.
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