Monday 6th October 2014
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Would you know what to do if you saw a road accident? Many people would carry on past a collision as they would be scared that they wouldn't know what to do. If more of us knew what to do we could help the victims. It is especially scary  if there is a big pile up.  How do we know that out of all the cars that pass by at least one of those people will call 999?

According to a survey, a number of people were questioned on if they would help out at a collision zone. Half agreed they would stop to help out, and they also agreed training that would be essential for these kinds of emergencies. Studies reveal that just under half of those questioned said they had helped out at some point or other. Sadly, however, few knew how to help out an injured person.

How do we help victims in a road accident?

If we decide to stop there are a few considerations. We need to park the car safely first and survey the situation so that we don't put ourselves at risk.  This is the first rule of first aid that before approaching a casualty you check that the surrounding area doesn't hold any danger for yourself. Look out for downed power lines and any spilt petrol or other flammable liquids.

Make sure you ring the police so that they can get help in managing the traffic as soon as possible.   Don't worry if you don't know what to say or ask, the police will guide you through the call.  If you are on a motorway look out for the markers nearby that will let the emergency services know exactly where the location of the accident is. Also, use the motorway phones (if they are nearby) rather than your mobile as this will provide the exact location to emergency services.

Don't move any victims unless you have to as some people may have neck or spine injuries and moving them could make it worse. Only move people if there is a major risk like a car fire and if you can move them without getting yourself hurt. Try to avoid bending or twisting necks, bodies and limbs.  For instance, if a casualty has their legs crossed move them without uncrossing their legs. Dragging is better than lifting as you can retain their body position better. You can drag someone by their clothes at the shoulders or  by their ankles but be wary of leg injuries.  Internal injuries can be caused by moving people with broken bones so be careful.

Many people believe that if they see a victim moving there is nothing wrong with them. That isn't always the case, they could well be hurt so don't ignore them. However, in first aid training we are told that the casualties that should give us the most concern are the quiet ones, so if a casualty isn't talking then give them your attention first.   If you are a trained first aider do please stop as your skills could save someone's life! If you don't know CPR ask the 999 operator to guide you through the process if are willing to do it. At the very least remove any neckwear and gently (with one finger) tip their neck up, this will assist their breathing.

First aiders learn the ABC rules - Airways, Breathing, Circulation - so always assist those with breathing difficulties first, even if someone is bleeding profusely.  If victims are bleeding place a thick pad of cloth directly onto the site where the bleeding is coming from and don't remove the cloth even if the blood heavily seeps through, just add more layers of cloth.  Try to use a plastic bag or latex gloves from a first aid kit to avoid coming into contact with blood.  Where possible elevate the injury above the level of the heart as this helps to reduce blood pressure at the wound.   Keep your hand on the wound to maintain pressure on it.

Remember shock can kill! Keep a lookout for any symptoms of shock among the casualties. Pale, damp, clammy and cool skin, weak/rapid pulse, nausea, thirst and shallow, rapid breathing can all be signs of shock. Lie the person down and elevate the feet and place a blanket around them to keep them warm.

To keep the victims calm, let them know that you will stay with them till the emergency services arrive, and also speak to them in a reassuring way. This alone can be really helpful to victims. It is essential when you call 999 to give as much information as possible as this will help the parademics to be more prepared for dealing with the victims. If you want to know more you can enrol on the Driver First Assist course which costs in the region of £144 inc. VAT. The DFA encourages organisations to pay for these costs if their employee use the roads frequently as part of their job. For more information visit: http://www.driverfirstassist.org/

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