Being involved in an accident or witnessing one can be a very traumatic experience. For many people, the opportunity to administer first aid at the scene of an accident arises unexpectedly and for most, it’s a shock to realise that they have a distinct lack of first aid knowledge.
If you haven’t undertaken any official first aid training there are some important points to consider when administering first aid at the scene of an accident.
Assess the Scene
There are some simple measures you should always consider and some of them occur prior to any actual first aid being administered. Of utmost importance is the assessment of the accident scene, this will ensure your own safety and therefore enable you to help others.
Look at the accident scene and assess that there is no ongoing danger – If moving traffic is nearby, alert them to the accident however you can and ensure the flow of traffic is of no further danger to yourself or others.
Look for assistance – Check if there is anyone able to help you and get them to call emergency services if you have not already done so.
Stay calm – remember to remain calm as your temperament and emotional state may affect any victims who are in shock or who have been injured.
Assessing the Casualties
Once the accident scene is secured you need to assess any casualties and also whether you need to call emergency services and what those services should be.
Always deal with those that are non responsive first. Though you may feel it would be best to deal with those crying out in pain, if an accident casualty is unconscious, they may be in a more serious condition and therefore need help first.
Check for visible injury signs. If you are aware of injuries outwardly it may make it easier to understand how to treat them.
keep the casualty warm and make them as comfortable as possible without moving them unnecessarily as they may have broken bones or spinal injuries.
Follow First Aid Laws
As with any first aid treatment, follow the first aid laws of Response and Breathing. Check the victim for response, are they conscious and lucid? Can the victim breathe or are they struggling? Is the victim bleeding? The best way to check for consciousness is to tap on the collarbone whilst asking them to open their eyes, perhaps try a question or two (how many fingers do you see). If no response is gained you should check breathing and if need be administer the first aid ABC.
A. Airway. Check the victims Airway. Only do this however if the victim appears to have no neck or back injuries as movement may cause further injury.
B. Breathing. Once the airway is seen to be clear, check the victim is actually breathing. You can do this by listening, or feeling for breathe. You can also check if the chest is moving.
C. Circulation. If a person is breathing, speaking or moving then circulation issues should be at minimum. If however they are not you may need to perform CPR.
If you have not been trained in CPR or are worried about giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a stranger, you can do chest compression-only (or hands-only) CPR.
How to carry out a chest compression CPR:
Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers.
Position yourself with your shoulders above your hands.
Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5–6cm on their chest.
Repeat this until an ambulance arrives.
Try to perform chest compressions at 100-120 chest compressions a minute.
When you call for an ambulance, telephone systems now exist that can give basic life-saving instructions, including advice on CPR. These are now common and are easily accessible with mobile phones.
If the casualty is bleeding, you can help by putting pressure on the wound with a dressing if one is available or by making a dressing from a piece of clothing if not. It’s a great idea to carry a first aid kit in your car to ensure you’re prepared for any emergency situation.
Knowing that you may be the key to saving someone’s life is a very powerful tool. Take a first aid course if you can, or read a first aid book to help aid your knowledge.
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