What to do if you’re first on the scene of an accident

Road Traffic Collisions are an unfortunate part of everyday life and those who arrive first at the scene of a crash can play an important role in various ways but would you know what to do asks Geraldine Herbert

For most of us, a road traffic accident is a scenario that we are unprepared to deal with but there are a few things you can do in those first few critical moments.

Remain Calm – Take two deep breaths to help you remain calm

Approach Cautiously – Ensure that you park a safe distance from the crash and turn on your car’s hazard and headlights. Place a warning triangle in the road if you have one.

Assess the Situation – Assess how many other vehicles are involved in the accident, what type of vehicles they are, and where they are located. Look around the scene for any possible hazards. These may include petrol or diesel leaks, fire, oncoming traffic, dangerous animals or bystanders. Check whether anyone has been injured

Alert Others – Place an emergency triangle behind the stranded/damaged vehicle or vehicles, facing traffic approaching from the rear.

Call for Help – If people have been injured call the emergency services on 999/112.  You will need to provide specific details about the accident, such as the location of the crash – road names or numbers, landmarks, map reference, sat-nav positioning reference, are all important. Also how many people are involved, how severe the injuries are, and any other relevant information. This will ensure that the correct and closest emergency personnel are dispatched.

Attend to the injured – Take care of any injured people, monitor them closely and talk to them. Don’t attempt to remove anyone that has suffered injuries from the car, unless their life is being threatened by a fire, for example. If the person is not breathing you can begin CPR, but only if you are trained to do so. If there are any who are bleeding heavily, try to stop the bleeding by compressing the wound with a clean towel or piece of clothing. If the accident victim is conscious, you should get as much information as possible from them. If he or she passes out before emergency services arrive, you will be able to relay valuable information such as name, age, medical conditions and allergies etc. When dealing with an injured motorcyclist never remove the helmet unless it’s essential to do so (e.g. the rider is vomiting). Open the visor. If you must remove the helmet, have one person support the head and neck and another person gently lift the helmet off from the back.

Check the Vehicles – After you’ve checked on the victims, if it is safe to turn the ignition off in any cars that were involved in the accident, do so. Remember, only do this if it is safe! Don’t put yourself in danger and be careful of airbags that have not deployed as they may deploy suddenly and could injure you.


Geraldine Herbert

14th June 2021

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Motoring Editor and Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK), EuroNews and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM, BBC Radio and Vigin Media. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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