What to do in an emergency
What to do in an emergency?
Coming across an accident while out on theroad can be a frightening and stressful experience. Not only is it a dangerousenvironment to disembark from your vehicle but the sight of injured, bleedingpeople or children can induce panic in the toughest of people.
Paramedics at ER24 deal with such incidents on a daily basis and arespecifically trained and equipped to cope with and treat patients on suchscenes. But what happens if you are the first person to come across theaccident? What do you do if you actually see the accident happen in front ofyou? Whom do you call and what do you do first while you wait for the emergencypersonnel to arrive?
The following segment comprises a few important principles and pieces of adviceto help you to calmly, safely and carefully look after yourself, the patientsand the accident scene while waiting for the emergency services.
What to do first
Pull your vehicle over
- Park in a safe position offthe road.
- Turn on your hazard lightsand headlights. (Any and all lighting that may help other motorists seethat there has been an accident and slow down is necessary. Don’t put yourbright lights on as this may temporarily blind oncoming motorists)
- If the accident is on ablind rise or bend, parking your vehicle back from the accident in a‘fend-off’ position so vehicles see the accident scene may help preventfurther accidents.
- Put out your warningtriangles if you have them
What to donext
Phone ER24 on 084 124 , Netcare 911 or the Other Emergency Numbersbelow
084 124 is the national number which will connect you withER24’s Contact Centre.
It is an emergency line where a call taker will request the followinginformation:
- Your telephone number (toremain in contact with you should you be cut off)
- Your location (street nameand nearest cross road)
- The details of what hashappened, how many people are injured, whether there is e fire, etc.
This will allow thedispatcher to send the correct personnel from the closest area. In addition thecall takers are able to give you telephonic advice as to what to do to help theinjureed on the accident scene
Assisting the Injured
If you have a First Aid kit, take it out of your vehicle. Put on the rubbergloves that are inside the first aid kit.
Calm and reassure the people that have been involved in the accident. Make themaware you have called the emergency services and that help is on the way. Thismay be the only thing AND the most important thing you can do to help someoneinvolved in an accident.
The most important principles when helping an accident victim are thefollowing:
- Safety – Do not attempt heroicswhich may potentially jeopardise your own safety. Your safety comes first,before that of the injured. You are of no use to anyone if you becomeinjured while attempting to help others.
- If there is any fire/ flamesand you have a fire extinguisher, use it and direct the foam/ water at thebase of the flames.
- Do NOT move thepatient orattempt to remove them from the vehicle UNLESS there isan immediate threat to life (e.g. the car is on fire and you are unable toextinguish it). There may be an underlying injury to the neck or spine andunnecessary movement could make this worse.
- If the person isunconscious, open the mouth and check there is nothing inside causingobstruction.
- Check if the person isbreathing.
- If the patient is breathingleave them in the position you find them and monitor them regularly.
- If the patient is NOTbreathing and you have been trained to do so, you may begin CPR and rescuebreathing as necessary.
- If a person is bleedingheavily from a wound, take any available material e.g. a t-shirt/ gauzefrom the first aid kit/ a towel/ a blanket/ etc, and place it over theopen bleeding wound. Then press tightly applying direct pressure to thewound. Maintain that pressure until the emergency services arrive. Do notstop pressing to check if there is continued bleeding or to look at thewound. This procedure may save a persons life.
Being a bystanderat an accident scene is invariably a stressful event. However if you remaincalm, keep your head and follow the above principles, you could be instrumentalin assisting, reassuring and even saving the lives of the accident victims.Ultimately we would all like to ‘Arrive Alive’