The first few minutes after a car accident are critical for victims. For many victims, those minutes can be the difference between making a full recovery and permanent disability, or even between life and death.
Whether you witness a car crash or are involved in a crash yourself (but are well enough to help others), there’s a good chance your actions during the next few minutes can have a huge impact on the victims’ lives.
In this blog, we’ll provide five important tips for providing safe and effective assistance to injured car accident victims after crashes.
1. Call 911.
The first and best thing you can do after witnessing or being involved in a crash is to call 911. Never assume someone else has already done so.
No matter how much first aid training you have, you can’t provide the same level of care at the scene as EMTs or paramedics.
When you call 911, stay on the line long enough to give the dispatcher as much relevant information as possible. You should tell him or her:
- Where the crash occurred
- How many vehicles are involved
- How many victims are injured
- The severity of the victims’ injuries
Stay on the line until the dispatcher has all the information that he or she needs to dispatch an ambulance to the exact location of the crash.
2. Determine if It’s Safe to Approach the Victims’ Vehicle.
After calling 911, your next instinct may be to rush to the victims’ vehicle to render aid. However, you should be extremely careful when doing so, as many Good Samaritans have been struck and severely injured or even killed by other vehicles while attempting to help victims after crashes.
Only approach a vehicle if you have a clear view of the road (to be able to spot approaching traffic) and can easily reach the vehicle without crossing too many lanes of traffic. If the crash occurred on a multi-lane highway or interstate and your vehicle is on one side of the road and the victims’ vehicle is on the other side, don’t attempt to cross to render aid unless traffic has been stopped.
3. If It’s Safe to Approach, Put the Vehicle in Park and Turn it Off.
If you can safely reach the victims’ vehicle, you should first ensure it’s not going to pose a threat to you or the people inside. Depending on the severity of the driver’s injuries, they may or may not have put their vehicle in park or turned the engine off. If the vehicle is still in drive and the engine is on, either have the driver put it in park and turn it off, or do it yourself.
Damaged vehicles can often still be driven when they’re in drive, and they may roll forward even when their gas pedals aren’t pressed. Turning vehicles off also helps reduce the risk of smoke and fire from injuring you, the driver, and other passengers.
4. Allow EMTs or Paramedics to Attend to Victims—Only Intervene in Critical Emergencies.
When you call 911, an ambulance will be dispatched to the crash scene. If the crash occurred in a populated area, there’s a good chance it—and the lifesaving personnel and equipment it carries—will arrive within minutes. Because moving victims or attempting to treat injuries without proper experience can be dangerous for car accident victims, you should avoid doing so and let the professionals handle it when they arrive.
Offering water, a blanket, and even just words of support can help victims while they wait for trained medical help to arrive. If a victim is profusely bleeding, you can help by placing a clean cloth or towel on their wound and putting pressure on it, which can control the bleeding. Finally, if you see fire rising from the engine bay, you should (if capable of doing so) remove the victim from the vehicle and get them to a safe location.
5. Give a Detailed Description of What Happened to the Responding Police Officer.
In addition to an ambulance, the 911 dispatcher also likely dispatched a fire truck and a police squad car to the crash scene. Upon arrival, the police officer will begin creating an accident report. Whether you were involved in the crash or just witnessed it, the police officer may have questions for you about what happened or what you saw.
Answer these questions truthfully and provide as much information as you can. Your answers can play a big role in helping injured victims have a chance at getting the compensation they need for their medical bills, lost wages, and more.
Our Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyers Help People Hurt in Crashes
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we know how important it is today to help people after car accidents. But instead of helping victims at the scenes of crashes, we help them during the days, weeks, and months after when lost paychecks and medical bills start adding up and causing them even more stress.