It’s a situation nobody wants to find themselves in, but if you witnessed a car accident, would you stop and try to help?
Many people, daunted at the prospect of seeing someone covered in blood or unable to move, would simply drive on past; however, if you take the time to stop you could just save someone’s life.
But in order to help, you’ll need to know what you’re doing. Luckily, St John’s Ambulance has released some tips on first aid basics so you can be prepared if you’re the first on the scene.
Step 1. Make the area safe
Before attending to any casualties, it’s important to make sure that you and the injured people are safe. To do this you must:
- Pull over safely a good distance from any damaged vehicles and put your handbrake and hazard lights on.
- Don’t try and cross a road if it’s unsafe.
- Be aware of any dangers, for example approaching cars.
- Call 999 and ask for the police and ambulance services. If there are people trapped in a vehicle, or you think there’s a fire risk, ask for the fire brigade as well.
- If possible, ask others to set up warning triangles to warn others of the crash. They should be at least 50m from the incident in both directions, if necessary.
- Switch off the ignitions of any damaged vehicles.
- Apply the handbrake and select first gear.
- Make sure no one smokes – there could be leaking fuel which could cause an explosion.
Step 2. Check the casualties
Assess the casualties quickly and focus on those who you suspect are the most badly injured. Those who aren’t moving or making any noise are often the greatest concern. Only move casualties if they’re in danger or require life-saving treatment as there’s a high risk of spinal injuries in road accidents.
When dealing with a casualty, remember the acronym DRAB.
Are you and the casualty in danger? If you haven’t already, ensure the situation is safe before assessing the casualty.
If the casualty appears unconscious, rub their shoulder whilst shouting “open your eyes” or “can you hear me?” If they respond, don’t move them and summon help if needed. Treat any injuries that you can and continue to check on them until they recover or help arrives.
If they don’t respond, call for help and open their airway. You should try and do this without moving them from the position in which they were found, but if you can’t, turn them onto their back. Open their airway by placing one hand on their forehead and gently tilting their head backwards, then lift their chin with two fingers only.
Once the airway is open, check for ten seconds to see if they’re breathing properly. You can do this by feeling for breath against your cheek, listening for breathing and checking to see if their chest is rising and falling. If they are breathing you can start treating injuries; if they’re not, you need to begin CPR.
How to give CPR
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Some people feel nervous about performing it, but it’s actually a pretty simple procedure and can mean the difference between life and death.
What you’re doing is supplying oxygen to someone who has stopped breathing normally and helping to circulate blood around their body. Make sure an ambulance is on its way and then begin the procedure.
Give 30 chest compressions:
- Place the heel of your hand in the centre of the casualty’s chest.
- Place your other hand on top and interlock fingers.
- Keeping your arms straight and your fingers off the chest, press down by 4-5cm, then release the pressure, keeping your hands in place.
- Repeat 30 times at a rate of 100 per minute.
Give two rescue breaths:
- Ensure the casualty’s airway is open.
- Pinch their nose closed.
- Take a deep breath and seal your lips around their mouth.
- Blow into their mouth until their chest rises.
- Remove your mouth and allow the chest to fall.
- Repeat once.
Continue this, alternating between 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths until:
- The emergency services arrive and take over.
- Another first aider takes over.
- The casualty breathes normally.
Remember, children should be given five rescue breaths to every 30 chest compressions.