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How to help at an accident scene

What are you supposed to do if an accident happens right in front of you?

The roads are very busy and, regrettably, it’s not uncommon to come across accident scenes which are being attended to by traffic officials and emergency services.

Have you ever asked yourself what you would do if you were to come across an accident that has just occurred?

Without a doubt, the scene of an accident is dangerous, and getting out of your car could expose you to the sight of injured and bleeding people.

Panic sets in, even for the toughest of people.

Luckily, paramedics are trained to deal with this type of scenario.

They are faced with accidents like this every day and are well equipped to cope with and treat people who have been injured in collisions.

However, paramedics are not always the first people on the scene – someone like you could be.

So what happens if this is the case? What are you supposed to do if you actually see the accident unfold? Who do you phone? What is the first thing you should do while you wait for help to arrive?

Here are a few things to help you look after yourself and those involved in an accident in a safe, calm and careful way:

• Stop on the side of the road.

• Make sure you park off of the road, a safe distance away from the accident.

• Your headlights and hazard lights are helpful to other motorists when turned on. They will help warn oncoming traffic that they should slow down. Putting your bright lights on is not the best idea, though, as this could actually do more harm than good, since bright lights can blind oncoming traffic.

• Park your car somewhere safe if the accident has happened on a bend or blind corner. By parking your car a safe distance away, it will prevent anyone colliding with it and possibly causing a pile-up.

• Your warning triangles are golden at this point – use them.

• Call an ambulance. The quickest way to get hold of an ambulance is to phone the South African Ambulance Call Centre on 10177.

You will be asked for the following information:

– Your phone number (in case you get cut off).

– Where the accident has happened (this includes the street name and nearest intersection).

– Details of how the accident happened, how many people are injured, and whether there is a fire or not.

From the information you give, the dispatcher will then send the necessary emergency assistance to the scene to help.

Helping those who are injured:

• You should always do what you can to help those who have been hurt in an accident. Got a first-aid kit in your car? Pull it out and put on the rubber gloves that you will find in the kit.

• For safety’s sake, rather wait for trained professionals to arrive, and avoid moving those injured. You could be putting both your life and the lives of others in danger. Always make your safety the first priority. If you are hurt while trying to help others, you won’t be able to continue helping.

• Those who have been involved in an accident often need to be kept calm and reassured. Try and provide comfort to those injured. Let them know that you have phoned an ambulance for help and that there will soon be professional medical help. It is very important to let those involved in an accident know that help is on the way.

Important things to remember when helping those injured:

• Chances are slim, but if you have access to a fire extinguisher, douse flames from the base. If you have access to water, do the same.

• It is so important that you don’t try and move anyone who has been in an accident. The only time it is okay to do this is if the car is on fire and you aren’t able to get hold of a fire extinguisher to kill the fire. It may happen that the person involved in the accident has an injury to the neck or spine, and moving them could make it worse.

Being on the scene of an accident is very stressful, for anyone, but knowing how to keep calm and help where possible is very important. If you’re able to do that, you prove to be a huge help to those who are in desperate need, whether it be helping with first aid or simply calling an ambulance.

Information sourced from: Drive South Africa.

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