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04 April 2012

Car crash: what now?

If you are at the scene of an accident, what do you do? Follow these steps to save a life.

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At some stage it happens to everyone. You come round the corner and there's been a major crash. What can you do to save a life?

Follow these steps:

  • Make the area safe. Protect yourself and the injured person from further injury and ask someone to alert oncoming traffic. The person should stand at least 50 meters from the accident scene and preferably use a flashlight at night. Turn on the hazard lights of all the vehicles on the scene.
  • If you suspect a head, back or neck injury, do not move the victim unless he is in imminent danger or you need to perform CPR. Support injured limbs when moving the person.
  • Do not go near a crashed car or try to rescue someone if the car has damaged a power pole and wires are down. You could put your own life at risk.
  • Turn off the ignition of the crashed vehicle.
  • Call the emergency services.
  • Warn people not to smoke as there may be petrol on the road.
  • Ask the driver how many passengers were in the car, especially small children who may be trapped or may have been flung out of the car.
  • Do not touch blood without latex gloves.
  • If an injured person is wearing a helmet, don't remove it unless you need to perform CPR. You must however, open the visor of the helmet and loosen the chin strap.
  • If someone is trapped inside a vehicle, stay with him until help arrives.
  • If an unconscious person is trapped in the car, clear the airway of blood or vomit, and lift the jaw, making sure that you do not move the neck. Give mouth-to-mouth breathing if possible but do not perform external cardiac massage until the person has been removed from the car.
  • Stop bleeding by applying and maintaining firm pressure to the wounds.
  • Cover victims with a blanket or jacket until help arrives.

(Ilse Pauw, Health24, updated April 2012)

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