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What to do When You Witness a Car Accident

Updated on August 21, 2011

With so many cars on the road in the USA it is no surprise that many accident happen everyday. Many of these accident can be quite frighten not just for the people that are involved in them but also for the people who witness them. Often times when they happen emergency responder can be delayed due to poor information given to the emergency dispatcher from the people on the scene of the crash or those that are passing by. In other cases, some people have put themselves in danger and became a patient themselves, just to get details about the accident or try to help those that were involved.

Tips on How to Help While Staying Safe

Things to remember when you witness or come across an accident that no emergency personnel have responded to yet.

  • Do not panic.
  • Get as much detail as you can.
  • Call 911.
  • Stay safe.
  • Ask if anyone is hurt if it is safe to do so.
  • Stay near by to answer question, if safe to do so.

Whether or not you are a pedestrian that saw the accident from the side of the road or a drive that saw it happen in front of you on the road, it is important for you to remain calm and remember that this is not your emergency. If you panic you may end up putting yourself in harms way or you may not be a reliable source of information for the 911 dispatcher so try to stay calm.

It is important that somebody call 911 quickly especially if someone is hurt, but there are a number of question that the dispatcher will likely ask you when you call; Wasting as little time as possible, get as much information as you can about the types of vehicles involved, the likelihood or actual injuries involved, and were the crash  occurred (specific location: the more accurate of a location that is given the faster the response time for the emergency workers to provide aid). When talking to the dispatcher it is important to listen to what they say, answer all their questions as best as you can, and follow any directions that they give you. This information will help prepare the response teams and may aid in saving lives.

If the vehicles are still in traffic when they stop do not approach them, this is especially important if they are on a road with fast moving cars or near a blind turn. However some drivers will steer to the things they are looking at, making accident scene dangerous places no matter what type of road that they are on. Keep yourself safe, you can not help anyone if you get hit by a car yourself.

If the cars are in a safe place away from traffic, and you can approach the cars, do not do so if there is a fire, or the car is on its side, or there is any other condition present that could harm you i.e. someone acting aggressively, power lines down, etc. if you can get close enough to the victims to talk to them without harming yourself ask if anyone is hurt. When a person is hurt if they are in their car DO NOT move them. If they happen to be walking around ask them to sit down. Make mental notes of who is hurt and were they are so when EMS gets on scene you may be able to direct them to the injured. perform any first aid that the dispatcher asks you to. Tell anyone with any possible fractures to stay still. You could also perform first aid for any major bleeding, there are some goods hubs that I have read on this subject.

When witnessing an accident you should stop in a safe place, call 911, and wait for the emergency responders to arrive. There are really two reasons for this; first, as mentioned earlier, so you can give accurate information to the dispatcher about the scene and possibly provide aid, but also so you can answer question and tell the police what happened. When involved in an accident people's prospectives can be skewed by their involvement. Even if they are trying to be honest they may not be quite as accurate as a non-involved witness would be. For this reason the police want to speak with any witnesses that there are to an accident scene. It is important that you make yourself availbe to give your prespective of what happened to the cops.

By far the most important thing to remember when an accident happens is to keep your self safe, there is no need for you to become a victim of an accident yourself. If you can get near the vehicles that are involved be sure that you do not get near sharp glass or metal, there is often a lot of it on scene. When calling 911 in a busy area they may ask if you are calling about the accident and hang up quickly with you once you answer yes, do not take it personally, they are busy people and need to keep lines open for other emergencies that may be called in. If this happens and you are with an injured person try and inform them of that fact before they hang up with you, they may want more information about injuries; otherwise do not tie them up with the details.

Just remember this is their emergency stay safe and do not make it your as well.


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