How to help in a road traffic accident


Hello, I’m Emma Hammett, the founder and CEO of First Aid for Life and the author of Burns,
Falls, and Emergency Calls. Today I’m going to talk
to you about how to help if you’re first on scene
at a road traffic accident. It’s something that I
often get asked about, and it’s something that a lot of people are
very concerned about. It can be very panicky. The injuries that you might
see can range dramatically from very minor to extremely severe. And it’s about taking that time to just make sure you are calm and sorted and able to make appropriate decisions. So please don’t rush into anything if you are first on scene,
’cause it’s very frightening. You’re adrenaline will be going. And if you’ve ever seen any of
the emergency professionals, you’ll see that they don’t
rush in to do anything. They will very calmly
stand and survey the scene, and all the time they are, like
us, they’re human, (laughs) and they will be breathing deeply and thinking and looking and prioritising. And they will be assessing
exactly what they can see, what they can hear, what they can smell, ensuring that there’s no
additional danger around, making sure that the
traffic has been stopped and that they are not in any danger before they do anything at all. And it’s exactly the same for any of us. There were 1,730 people
killed on the roads last year. That’s a lot. And over 22,000 people
were seriously injured in road accidents, and that’s road accidents from
pedestrians, from cyclists, from motorcyclists, from cars, and anything else that
can happen on the road. In most EU countries,
first aid is necessary for everyone to learn when
they do their driving test. Sadly, that is not the case in the UK, which seems absolutely bonkers. And I did set up a campaign and a petition to try and get first aid training as a mandatory part of the driving test. Sadly, it didn’t get the
momentum that it needs in order to get to Parliament, but I feel very, very strongly that it’s an ideal opportunity for everyone that’s going on
the roads generations ahead to all be trained up in first aid. It’s a really, really invaluable skill. Certainly everybody on the
road should have an up to date or an in date first aid
kit that they have checked that they know is fully
of decent quality contents so that should they need to use it, they have what they need to be able to stop
bleeding at the very least and to keep a casualty
warm at the roadside. So at an absolute minimum, so there should be some
sort of a foil blanket or some other blankets within the car and something to stop bleeding. So I would say that as a bare minimum. Okay, right, cyclists are
particularly vulnerable on the road, as are pedestrians. So, for all cyclists, I
would suggest that you also, and certainly motorcyclists, think about where you can
store your first aid kit, because you should have something to keep you warm at the roadside and to stop bleeding
should you need to do so. Okay, so your own safety is your priority. Please don’t rush out in the road if someone’s been hit by a car, ’cause you’ll end up getting hit too. It’s particularly when
you’re down at their level, they won’t see you, and further injuries
can ensue as a result. So most important, make sure
that traffic has been stopped, that there are people or
something, maybe your car parked, in order to alert people that
there is an accident ahead and that there is a hazard. So that will save further accidents. So your hazard lights
are really important. And make sure if you can possibly
have something in the car that is luminous that you can put on so that you are totally visible. If other people are around, get them to help manage traffic, because that will save lives. And also, get them to phone
the emergency services and get them to tell you that
that is what they have done. The emergency services will be asking them how many vehicles were involved, how many casualties are there, what is the state of the casualties, are they breathing or not,
and all that information, and they will need to relay
that to the emergency services so that the emergency services can send out appropriate
resources to come and help at the scene of the accident. Okay, so that’s your own
safety that is important. If you haven’t got anyone else to phone, then you will have to phone yourself to alert the emergency services. And your priority is anybody that is quiet and potentially not breathing or unconscious and
breathing, so whichever. Your priority is whoever is quiet. So you want to get in straight away to work out whether they are not breathing or whether they are not breathing. So anybody that’s making a lot of noise, you know for certain
that they are breathing, so they’re not your priority unless they’re the most seriously injured of the road traffic accident
that you’re dealing with. Okay, so first of all you go
and do a recce of everything. You ensure that you know
all the different people that have been involved in the accident, that there is nobody that, a child left in the rear seat of a car who someone potentially
thinks is sleeping. You need to check, because it’s unlikely that a child has remained asleep
in a serious car accident, so please check, because
they may not be sleeping. They may be unconscious. And if they’re unconscious
and they’re flumping forward, then that airway will be
shutting, and that could be fatal. So please make sure that
you are checking everybody that has been involved in that accident. Make sure that they are
removed from the vehicles if it is safe to do so
and if you do not think that they’ve had a serious spinal injury. So if they’re able to get themselves out, they should get themselves out
and get them to a safe place. If you suspect somebody has
sustained a spinal injury or something, which is
possible in a car accident, and they are unable to get themselves out, or they are concerned that
something doesn’t feel right, providing they’re not in
major danger where they are, you would leave them where they are. So if they are conscious
and they’re worried that they have seriously
injured themselves, then you would keep them
exactly where they are and make sure that the position
the car is and everything or wherever they are, if
they’ve been hit by a car, that they are safe and will
not sustain any further injury. So your priority is making sure
that you’re preserving life, you’re preventing anything getting worse, and you’re getting the emergency services on the way quickly. If somebody is unconscious in the car and you’re sure that they’re breathing, then make sure they’re in a position that their airway will be open, so that they’re leaning
forward, they will be draining, and that their airway will remain open. So do not rush to move anyone. And if they’re unconscious
and not breathing, then you’ll have to consider doing CPR, but doing CPR in a car is not easy, so you would contact
the emergency services and get their advice as to
the best way to do that, ’cause trying to get somebody
who is seriously injured out of a car could exacerbate
any injuries they’ve got and could hurt you as well. So it depends how much help you’ve got, what the situation is as to whether or not that is
the right thing for you to do. Okay, so you’ve prioritised, you’ve established what’s going on. Your priorities are anyone that is quiet, and you are checking quickly
if they are breathing or if they’re not breathing. If they’re breathing, they
need to be in a position where the airway will remain open. That could be leaning forward. That could be to one side. And you could do your very best not to twist them in any way whatsoever. And if they are collapsed in a position where their airway is open, you would keep checking
that they’re breathing with the back of your hand
under their nose and mouth. And keep them still. Support their head and neck
without covering their ears, and keep talking to them calmly, and get the emergency
services on the way quickly. If they’re unconscious and not breathing, you would be considering CPR quickly if it is possible for you to do that. And as I say, you may need
to get additional help and support and advice
from the emergency services to be able to do that safely and properly. Okay, so unresponsive and
breathing we’ve covered, unresponsive and not breathing. Bleeding is a priority. So if they can, get them to
stop any bleeding themselves. If not, you will need to get involved and help to stop the bleeding. If you can wear gloves,
that is the safest way to protect yourself. If not, you can put your hand
in a plastic bag or something in order to stop getting
covered in their blood. Your hands, so long as they
haven’t got any major blemishes and things on them, are
pretty good protection against most germs and bacteria. However, gloves are always the best idea, and all first aid kits
should have gloves in and you should be putting them on. Okay, if you have been
helping at an accident, you need to wash your hands very carefully with soap and water as soon
as you’re able to do so after the accident. Okay, take a good note of wreckage and just take note of
any possible injuries that you might have missed as a result of the way
things have bent and stuff. And also be aware that this
could be a potential crime scene or a scene where the police
will need to investigate, so try not to move any vehicles unless it’s absolutely essential to do so for the safety of the
people you’re looking after or to release someone who’s
been run over or something. But do take note, maybe take photographs, because anything that you are moving is potentially interfering with evidence that the police may need in order to establish
the cause of the accident and investigate further as
to what’s been happening. Bodies are softer than metalwork in a car, so it can, looking at the
metalwork and where it’s bent and what have you could
lead you to suspect that maybe the person
has got internal injuries or something like that, so do take note. There may not be anything
that you can do at the moment, but you can communicate that to the emergency services when they arrive if the casualty has since got out to car. And the reason they would
be getting out of the car is if they would be in any further danger if they remained within it, so if that car is about to
catch fire or things like that. Alongside that as well,
please turn off the ignition. So turn off the ignition when you get to the car accident. That is a very sensible thing to do. And make sure that the
brakes are on properly, so put on the hand brake so
that it’s not going to move. Okay, anyone trapped in a vehicle should be monitored very carefully. And the emergency services
should be informed, so do let them know that there
are people that are trapped, because they will have to
notify the firefighters in order to bring cutting
gear and make sure that they’ve got all the
appropriate resources. And take a note of the time precisely when the accident happened, because if that person is trapped, they need to make a very serious decision as to whether or not they can release them and how they should release them in order to ensure that
toxins from being trapped aren’t going to cause them
to go into cardiac arrest ’cause of toxic shock. So it’s really important for them to know how long that person has been trapped. Obviously don’t allow anyone to smoke near the scene of an
accident ’cause of fire risk. And don’t give anyone
anything to eat or drink, ’cause they may well need an anaesthetic, and it’s much safer to give an anaesthetic on an empty stomach. If a motorcycle is involved, please don’t remove their
helmet unless you need to in order to gain access to their airway. Most ways you’re able to
lift up and open a visor in order to establish whether
or not they’re breathing. And most cases you are able to get in to see whether or not they’re breathing, even if it’s just feeling
your hand on the back of, their breath on the back of your hand. If you do need to do CPR and
you need to do the breaths and you feel that’s the only way, then you may need to remove the helmet, but it might be that in
that particular situation that compression only CPR
is the best option for them. Again, take advice from
the emergency services and tell them what you’re intending to do. So you can put them on speakerphone and they can talk you
through and advise you based on the individual situation and what you are trying to
do in order to help them. So they will tell you the best way. So if your casualty has been hit by a car and they’re lying on their
back and they’re unconscious and they are breathing, you
need to be very, very careful that you are monitoring their breathing and you are able to establish
if they start to obstruct. They are likely to obstruct because their tongue is likely to fall to the back of their throat, and the contents of their
stomach are likely to trickle up. If you are trained to be able to recognise as soon as the breathing
becomes obstructed and roll them into the recovery position with other people to
support you if possible, to logroll them in to
the recovery position, then please do so. If you are not sure and not confident that you would be able to recognise if they were obstructing, then you would be better
to get some other people to help you to roll them into
the recovery position now so that at least they
will remain breathing, and keep checking that they’re breathing. The important thing with a spinal injury is that you’re not letting them twist. It’s that twisting movement where the major serious
damage can take place. If they are conscious
and lying in the road and you’re worried about spinal injury, you need to support their head and neck. Don’t cover their ears, so just have your fingers
splayed so they can hear you. And keep them as still as
possible and as calm as possible. Insulate them from the
ground with a blanket, a foil blanket’s great for
that sort of thing or a coat, without moving them too much, and keep them as warm and
dry as you possibly can, as calm as you can, and get the emergency services on the way. Make absolutely sure that
their safety is your priority. If you were in a place
where there was no way, it was just you and them
and there was no way to be able to stop the traffic and be sure that it was stopped, then that is the one situation where you would need to move them, or if the car was about to
catch fire or something. But most times you’re able to remove the potential
danger away from the casualty. I really hope that’s been useful. There is a comprehensive
article about how to help following a road traffic
accident on our blog. And there’s also a short video that actually has these pointers to just enable you and remind you. And next year I hope to
be publishing my book on roadside first aid as well, ’cause there doesn’t seem to be one. So I really hope that’s been useful. That’s Emma Hammett
from First Aid for Life and onlinefirstaid.com.