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What should I do at the scene of a road traffic accident?

| 23 Jul 2013 | No Comments

Finding yourself at the scene of a road traffic accident is an unenviable position to be in. Split second decisions can literally mean life or death and it is very important that any action you take does not escalate the situation. Remain as calm as possible and do what you can to help, providing it is not at the risk of yourself or someone else.

Assess the safety of the situation.

First and foremost, take a few seconds to take in the situation and assess what is going on around you. Although it can be tempting to jump straight in and help, be sure that you are not putting yourself at risk. If you are sat in your car, ensure that your car is parked safely and put on the hazard lights if needs be.

Before moving, take a look at the scene, is there any traffic approaching? Is there broken glass lying around? Is there any fire hazards? Once you have established that your surroundings are safe, keep close to the pavement and try to signal to passers-by for help. You never know who is on the road and you could be lucky enough to find a medical professional. Professional or not, you will benefit from an extra pair of hands.

Check for signs of breathing.

When approaching an injured person, always be careful not to move them. Try to get a response from the person, first by talking, then by tapping them. If you have no luck getting their attention, the person is unconscious so you need to try shouting for help. Next, check that the person is breathing.

If the person’s chest is not clearly moving up and down, there are other ways to check for signs of breathing. Place your hand on their forehead whilst gently tipping their head backwards. Slowly lift their chin with two fingers and lower your face to listen and feel for their breath on your cheek.

If there are no signs of breathing…

If the person isn’t breathing and you have no knowledge of resuscitation, call 999 and see if there is anyone in the vicinity who can resuscitate the person. Whilst you dial 999, you or another passer-by needs to push firmly down into the middle of the chest and release. This keeps blood pumping around the body and keep the brain alive. Continue these chest compressions until help arrives.

Stop any bleeding

If the person is bleeding, you need to stem the flow with a clean cloth. Avoid moving the person unless you absolutely have to. If they are already in the vehicle, leave them in there. Moving a person who is bleeding heavily can have fatal consequences.

Inform the professionals

Hopefully, if you find yourself in this situation, you will have the help of passers-by, meaning that one person can check breathing and stem bleeding whilst another calls 999 for help.

If you haven’t already, at the first possible opportunity, call 999 and inform the emergency services of your location and the current situation. The operators will ask whether the person is breathing or bleeding, so you need to establish this before calling 999. The operator will talk you through any action you need to take whilst you wait for the professionals to arrive at the scene of the road accident.

For further information on road traffic accidents, visit

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