Even when we approach a car accident scene with the best of intentions, our next actions could make the situation worse. It could make it worse for both the accident victims and us. Everyone reacts to an accident differently. Some might continue driving to look for the nearest place they could call for professional help. Others might pull over, get out of their car and check the victims. While others will act as if nothing happened.
When Good Samaritans get into trouble
In Kentucky, on I-64, two men were struck by a semi and died. Three commercial vehicles and three personal cars were involved in two accidents that occurred in the same place. The two men who were killed were trying to help victims in the first crash. The two men were 33-year-old Jamaal Wood and 71-year-old Charles Burtt. They were standing on the pavement when a semi-truck hit them. Maj. Jason Rice with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said that interstates can be one of the deadliest places in the commonwealth. He added that there’s nothing wrong with stopping to help as long as people do it safely.
First on the scene, what do you do?
What should you do after witnessing a car accident to ensure that you are not making the situation worse? The first thing that we need to remember is that we’re not supposed to treat wounds unless we’re professionally trained. Head, back and neck injuries are critical. Moving victims, in these cases, is not advised. Your goal is to protect victims until emergency aid arrives. Here is what you can do:
- Bystanders can help by flagging down traffic. If you must pull over, park your car safely away from traffic lanes. Turn your emergency flashers on to warn approaching vehicles of the accident.
- Setting out road flares several hundred feet away on either side of an accident can also help.
- Call for emergency help immediately! In case cell phones are not available, ask other pedestrians and motorists to call 9-1-1 and report the accident. The more people you talk to, the higher the chances are of an emergency aid provider getting notified.
- Never move the victim unless they are in a dangerous situation, like the vehicle is about to catch on fire. If victims are conscious, ask them if they want assistance. Do not aid them if they refuse. You can offer help in a safe way such as holding their hand and being encouraging before medical experts arrive.
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I would like to stress that offering aid is a good thing. However, doing it the wrong way could make matters worse. It's also important to not panic if you do witness an automobile accident. The accident victim may need our help, and we think more clearly when we are calm.