How to be of help at accident scene

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line
Those who arrive first at the scene of an accident can make the jobs of paramedics a lot easier and save lives.
Those who arrive first at the scene of an accident can make the jobs of paramedics a lot easier and save lives.
Image: ALAN EASON/ Daily Dispatch

Being in an accident can be a traumatic experience and is something we all do our best to prevent.

There are better things that we could do on being the first to arrive at an accident scene than taking a video with our cellphones or stealing from the victims, as some people do.

Nthabiseng Moloi of MiWay Marketing said being the first to arrive at an accident scene can be as traumatic as being involved, as it is not always easy to know how best to help in cases where victims have experienced trauma.

"In some cases, our natural instinct to help those in pain is overridden by a fear of doing something wrong or perhaps accidentally making things worse, leaving many accident witnesses feeling helpless or paralysed with fear," Moloi said.

She said most of us were not able to provide much in the way of medical assistance, but that there were a few key actions we can all take in the event of an accident to assist those in need.

Here are a few tips to bear in mind should you find yourself in this unenviable situation:

If the victim is conscious and responsive, your first step is to provide comfort and reassurance;

Assure them that help is on its way and that you are there to assist until the professionals arrive;

It is also important that you do your best to keep them immobile, as excess movement can end up worsening their injuries;

Before providing any type of assistance, it is vital that you acquire consent from the victim;

In cases where the victim is lucid and able to speak, they must provide verbal consent for you to assist them, whereas expressed permission is given by signalling in the affirmative in cases where the person in question is unable to speak;

If the victim is unconscious and there are no family members or friends present at the scene, consent is considered implied and you should immediately do your best to assist;

If possible, try your best to get as much medical information from the victim as possible, as this will help paramedics to treat them more swiftly and effectively. Ask whether the victim has any medical history that could be beneficial for paramedics to know, and ascertain whether there are any allergies or medications they are taking, which could influence treatment;

If you are able, try to establish the cause of the accident and get an idea of the signs and symptoms they might be experiencing. The more information you can give paramedics upon arrival, the quicker they can begin to administer treatment;

Where possible, try your best to verify information via documents like IDs or drivers licences, as this will also greatly assist paramedics, who will ultimately need proof of identity;

When confronted with more challenging scenes in which the victim is unconscious and unaccompanied, your first step should be to try to find some type of identification, in the form of a bag, wallet, medical bracelet or driver's licence; and

Should this be unsuccessful, try to retrieve the victim's phone and call someone on their contact list to acquire the necessary medical information.

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