What to do at the scene of a road accident
Your adrenaline starts pumping, but you need to stay focused on how to help in the best way possible
It is a heart-wrenching experience - you’re driving along and an accident occurs. But before panic sets in you need to try and remember that as the first person on the scene, the way in which you react could be the difference between life and death.
Make it visible! If you have an emergency triangle in your vehicle, put it out.
We got some sound advice from Chris Botha, the media liaison officer for Netcare 911, who through years of experience in one of the most stressful careers, knows what he’s talking about.
‘The biggest problem is that one could become another victim, or even cause harm to those in need of assistance,’ he says.
‘The very first thing is to ensure the safety of you and your family.
‘Immediately hit your hazard lights and pull off the roadway and park in such a manner that you are not in any danger of being hit by another vehicle.
‘Try to stop on the same side as the accident and don’t run across the road, because you could become a pedestrian statistic.’
Botha says one should remember that other people on the road will be ‘rubbernecking’ and won’t be concentrating as they should be.
Call for help
The first thing to do after you have assessed if there are injuries, is to call for medical assistance.
‘Remember to speak clearly and give exact details of where you are, how many patients are injured, and the severity of their injuries.
‘This will ensure that the correct resources are dispatched to the scene.’
Don’t touch – unless necessary
Unless absolutely necessary – for example the vehicle is on fire – you should not pull the injured from the vehicle or move them around.
‘Remember that with the impact caused in a car accident, there is a possibility that the person has spinal injuries.’
Stem the bleeding
‘It is very important that if a patient is bleeding, you stop it as soon as possible, and this is best done by applying pressure to the wound.’
Botha says if you do not have gloves, you can always instruct the patient to put direct pressure on the wound themselves if they are able to follow instructions.
‘If not, you can use a piece of clean cloth, or a piece of clothing to make a pressure bandage.
‘Remember to keep the patients calm and repeatedly reassure them that help is on the way.’