We’ve recently covered what do you if you witness an accident in our article, 6 Things To Do If You Witness An Accident – but what about when it comes to physically assisting the victim of an accident? Is there any danger of being sued in the event of further injury? Find out more about basic first aide and your responsibilities out on the road.
1. The first step is to carefully check out the scene of an accident. Don’t touch anyone, but look for bleeding, unconsciousness, or life-threatening injuries.
2. Call 9-1-1 and send for an ambulance / emergency personnel if necessary.
3. Care for the injured party, but protect yourself as well. Do not come in direct contact with blood or body fluids, use a breathing barrier – if possible, and be sure to wash your hands after caring for someone with an injury.
If the injured party is bleeding, you’re going to want to get the wound covered with dressing, and press firmly against the wound using direct pressure. Rinsing with Hydrogen Peroxide and applying antibiotic cream (if you happen to have those items in a First Aid Kit) can help to prevent infection. Elevate the injury above the injured person’s heart, and secure the dressing with a bandage. If the bleeding continues, apply more bandages and using a pressure point, squeeze the artery against the bone.- At this point, you’ll also need to provide care for shock (detailed below).
Pay attention the the needs of the victim. You’re going to want to do all you can to prevent them from getting overheated or chilled. Elevate the legs by about one foot – but only if you don’t suspect that there are broken bones. Do not allow the victim to eat or drink.
Muscle, Bone, or Joint Injury
Avoid forcing any sort of movement which causes pain. However – if the injured party must be moved to keep them safe, secure the injured part to prevent it from further shifting. Rest the injured area, and apply ice or a cold pack if available to help reduce pain.
Gently rinse the burn wound with plenty of water – this can also reduce pain and cool the injury. If necessary, dress and cover the wound. – Antiseptic spray can also provide temporary relief.
If the injured individual is suffering from severe bleeding in the head / facial area, has a severe headache, fluctuations in consciousness, confusion, slurred speech, seizures or a loss of balance – there’s a chance they’re suffering from head trauma. You’re going to want to keep a head trauma victim still and quiet, slightly elevate the head and shoulders – doing everything you can to keep the head and neck still. In this situation it may be best to keep from moving the individual at all. If the person is wearing a helmet – do not remove it. Try to stop any bleeding using gentle pressure (no pressure if you suspect a skull fracture) and a clean cloth. Observe the victim and monitor their breathing and alertness – if they show no signs of breathing, coughing or movement begin CPR.
Spinal / Neck Injury
In the event of a spinal or neck injury, there will be a fluctuation in consciousness, complaints of pain in the effected area, complaints of numbness or lack of control of limbs / bladder / bowels, or possibly odd positioning / twisting of the body. If these symptoms seem to be the case, you’re going to want to do everything in your power to keep the individual still. You may want to place towels or a wadded jacket on either side of the person’s head to prevent movement until emergency personnel arrive. CPR may be necessary if there is no sign of circulation – however, in the event of a spinal / neck injury, you will not tilt the head back to open the airway. If the person is wearing a helmet, do not remove it. If the individual absolutely must be rolled because of vomiting or choking on blood – you MUST do so with the help of ANOTHER person. One at the head, the other at the side of the injured party working together to keep the head, neck, and back aligned. Keel in mind that movement may worsen any paralysis that may have occurred, only move the injured person if they are in danger.
Keep A First Aid Kit Handy
- Typical helpful items to keep in a first aid kit include:
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Antiseptic Ointment
- Antihistamine Tablets/Creams
- Hydrocortisone Cream
- Gauze Pads
- Adhesive Tape
- Bandage Closures
- Cold Packs
- Hot Packs
Protection Provided By The Good Samaritan Law
The Good Samaritan Law was created to protect individuals that help victims in the event of a medical emergency. This law pertains to an event where there is no medically trained personnel available to assist the victim. When the Good Samaritan assists the injured individual, they are protected by the law from being liable for injury or death caused to the victim by the emergency. Although each state has a version or Act similar to the Good Samaritan Law, each states law is slightly different. Check the Good Samaritan Laws by state here.