A motor vehicle accident can be very traumatic when a first aider is faced with the gruesome reality of the extent of injuries, the many decisions to be made and the priorities that need to be determined.
First aiders can be and are exposed to traumatic incidents. The personal impact on the first aider can be extremely dramatic.
If at any time a first aider is suffering from post-incident stress, contact the local community health department or the first aider’s local doctor.
What to do first?
Ensure the safety of yourself, bystanders, and the casualty/casualties.
Approach with caution and make the accident scene as safe as possible.
DO NOT touch a vehicle or attempt to rescue a person from within 10 meters of a fallen power line unless an appropriate electrical authority has declared the area safe.
Use hazard lights, road triangles, or torches to warn oncoming traffic of the accident scene. Bystanders may also be used where it is safe to do so.
Turn off the ignition of a crashed vehicle and activate the park brake. If unable to activate the park brake, place a chock under a wheel. BE CAUTIOUS; airbags that have not deployed may activate following a crash.
Managing the Casualty
If an unconscious breathing person can be managed within the vehicle, DO NOT remove them from the vehicle unless there is a threat to life.
Clear the airway of foreign material; maintain head tilt and jaw support and continuously reassess the airway and breathing.
If the person in the vehicle is unconscious and not breathing normally despite opening the airway, remove the person from the vehicle if possible and commence CPR.