Swickard: Be ready to help when called upon

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. It is something we hope to avoid but at times we are thrust into emergencies. Suddenly we must act correctly and quickly. Automobile collisions come to mind since the clock is ticking because the delicate human protoplasm inside each vehicle is often injured.
     We see a plume of dust signaling one or more vehicles have left the roadway. There are just seconds to do the right things for these unfortunates. Little is written about what to do if you drive up upon an accident other than call the authorities. Many Americans just stand and watch like they are watching a television show. While they are just standing some people die who could have been saved.
     My uncle, Ralph Smith, was a Safety Engineer for the New Mexico State Highway Department as I was growing up so I was steeped in this question. My response to collisions is somewhat automatic though every crash is different.
      The first thing to do is to keep oncoming vehicles from running through the crash site. People must go quite a ways in both directions to stop oncoming traffic. Wave, shout and stop oncoming cars. It is a tragedy to be in a crash and even worse to be killed because an oncoming vehicle runs through the crash site.
      Then try to help the injured. How much? My rule is that if it seems to me I can help, I do. The first thing is to get the walking wounded to lie down out of harm’s way. Obviously get people out of vehicles that might catch on fire if you can. Naturally stop the blood flow of injuries. Further, it is vital that when emergency workers arrive that you point them to the injured needing assistance immediately.
      Finally, when the dust settles and the injured are on their way to a hospital it is helpful to give a verbal report along with your name and phone number on a piece of paper to the police. This way they can more easily reconstruct what happened both at the start of the collision and before they got there. Read full column



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