Administering First Aid After a Road Traffic Accident

Administering First Aid After a Road Traffic Accident

Last Updated: August 8, 2023

Accident - victim in a crashed vehicle, she receives medical first aid from firefighters

It’s surprising how rarely we all take a step back to realise how dangerous being on the road is. We’ve all seen and heard road safety advertisements that remind us of the serious and sometimes life-threatening dangers that exist for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

You have to ask yourself how seriously you are taking these warnings, and how developed your situational awareness on the roads is. Would you know how to put your first aid skills to use in the event of a road traffic accident?

Safety of All Road Users

Public roads are dangerous places to be at all hours of the day. If you don’t exercise caution when around roads, you could find yourself the victim of a road traffic accident. Conversely, you may find yourself forced to act quickly and decisively to aid a separate casualty, where you’ll need to deliver first aid and keep others safe.

This guide should serve as a word of warning and advice to anyone on staying safe - and safely helping others - in the event of a road traffic collision. Through structured first aid training, your abilities to help yourself and others are enhanced.

Pedestrian Safety

You’d be surprised how frequently we forget to practice basic road safety as pedestrians. It’s pretty easy to become distracted by our phones, thus becoming less aware of the dangers caused by traffic and other people.

This is made worse during winter when it’s dark earlier, not to mention other potential concerns, such as electric cars being much quieter when compared to traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. Therefore, it’s vital to practice good situational awareness and listening skills. Otherwise, you could fall victim to a collision and require first aid attention.

Cyclist Safety

Cyclists are particularly vulnerable to road users, and it’s surprising how few cyclists still wear helmets when travelling. Some head and trauma injuries are far less severe if you wear protective equipment. This is basic road safety advice that everyone should be following, even if they’re taking a short journey.

If you’re not prepared to follow simple safety advice such as this, you will be more prone to severe injury and require emergency first aid.

Driver Safety

Speed is everything when it comes to driving, as is awareness. Even if you’re running late, you should not drive fast, particularly when around built-up areas. It goes without saying that you should avoid using your phone while driving.

If you’re driving with young children, make sure they’re using a booster seat, even if you’re taking a short trip.

What to Do in the Event of a Traffic Accident

Should you be the first person on the traffic accident scene, you should take the following steps as a rough guide.

Initial steps

  • Ensure there is no oncoming traffic, alerting road users to the accident to prevent further casualties.
  • Note if there are any fuel spillages or potential fire risks.
  • Get someone nearby to phone the emergency services, or if you’re alone, assess the situation and treat life-threatening trauma first aid injuries first.

Checking for responsiveness

  • Check if casualties are responsive, as silence could indicate a lack of breathing. Ensure they’re in a position where the airway can stay open and refrain from moving them much if possible. Also, keep them as calm and warm as you can.

Important first aid steps

  • Administer CPR if a person is not breathing, either on your own or with the assistance of emergency services on the phone.
  • Only remove casualties from vehicles if there is an imminent threat to life.
  • Bystanders should look after conscious casualties.
  • Monitor anyone trapped in a vehicle and let the emergency services know immediately.
  • If controlling severe bleeding from a trauma injury, wear gloves and apply dressings if available.

Moving casualties

  • Only remove a cyclist’s helmet if they’re unconscious and there’s no other way to check whether they’re breathing.
  • If someone has been struck by a vehicle and is unconscious but breathing, they should be carefully rolled into the recovery position.
  • If someone is laying conscious in the road following a collision, they should remain still, ideally with head and neck support.

Learn First Aid with Recognised Safety Training 

Advanced Tactical Resources provide recognised, scenario-based first aid training courses tailored specifically to your needs. This could range from 1-day Emergency First Aid at Work and 3-day First Aid at Work courses to specialist paediatric first aid, treating trauma injuries, and other recognised training courses.

Our facility has numerous road accident simulations to provide an immersive experience for our delegates. Please contact us if you’d like more information about our local first aid courses. 

The above advice should not substitute any recognised medical advice given. We are not responsible or liable for decisions made or actions taken based on this information.

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