How to Give First Aid Following a Collision

The first few minutes after a collision are critical to minimising injury, so if you have been involved in a collision but are not seriously injured, or witness an accident, the following steps should be followed as quickly and calmly as possible.

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The low light conditions and slippery road surfaces of winter can cause accidents. The first few minutes after a collision are critical to minimising injury, so if you have been involved in a collision but are not seriously injured, or witness an accident, the following steps should be followed as quickly and calmly as possible.

Protect The Scene

  • Always remember safety first - the victim's and your own. Assess the situation for potential threats and once you have established it is safe; concentrate on preventing further injury.
  • If there has been a fuel spillage, make sure the ignition of any damaged vehicle is turned off and any cigarettes or naked flames are extinguished.
  • Use warning triangles to warn approaching traffic or by delegating two people to signal at each end of the collision scene. Turn on the hazard lights of all undamaged vehicles at the scene. This is particularly critical during darkness or at times of reduced visibility when the risk of subsequent collisions is very high. Your aim is to prevent the situation from deteriorating until professional help arrives.

Check All Injuries

  • Once the scene is secure, make an initial survey of damage, checking for hidden victims.
  • Administer first aid to the injured in order of priority. Injured persons should be moved only if they are in danger.
  • If possible, always remove the danger from the patient rather than the other way around to minimise the chances of further injury.

It's important to give as much information as possible to the ambulance services including how many casualties and the level of injuries.

If you have not had formal training in first aid, follow these tips from St John Ambulance:

Remember ABC - Airway, Breathing, Circulation. No matter how severe the injuries appear to be, establishing and maintaining an airway is the most important thing.

Open airways - if the person is unconscious, be sure their airway is open. Place your hand on the forehead, put two fingers under their chin and tilt head backwards. Check breathing for 10 seconds by looking down the chest, listening and feeling for breath.

Resuscitation - if the person is not breathing ensure help is on the way and begin CPR. Place the heel of your hand on the centre of the chest and push down 5-6cms. Release pressure but don't remove your hand and repeat 30 times at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute. If you are trained in rescue breathing tilt the head backwards, pinch the nose and give two rescue breaths. Continue with 30 chest compressions and two breaths. If not trained, just continue with chest compressions until help arrives.

Stop any bleeding - apply direct pressure over the wound. A bandage from a first aid kit or clean handkerchief could be used. Avoid using tissue paper or other material that could contaminate a wound.

Support head and spine - anyone involved in a collision may have sustained a spinal injury, therefore it is important to keep them as still as possible. If the casualty becomes unconscious and their breathing becomes noisy, roll them onto their side to protect their airway. If possible, get others to help so that movement of the head and spine is minimised.

Share information - give all the information about the first aid that you have applied to the casualty to the attending emergency services.

Survival Tip

No matter how severe the injuries appear to be maintaining the injured person's airway is the most important thing.(St John Ambulance)

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