If you come across an accident scene or a person who has collapsed, your first instinct may be to rush in and help. However, it is essential that you assess the scene first to ensure that it is safe for you to do so – in fact, this type of safety assessment is one of the first things covered in First Aid training. Here is some insight into how to properly assess the safety of a scene.
Look for Clear and Apparent Dangers
In emergency situations, it’s easy to be so focussed on the person who is hurt or ill that you miss obvious dangers.
- Vehicular Accidents – Emergency responders will usually tell you that the best course of action if you witness or come across a car accident is to pull over at a safe distance, contact emergency services and stay in your car until they arrive. This is because people can easily be injured while attempting assistance by other cars (especially at night or in poor weather conditions), hazardous or flammable materials in the affected car or truck, or by broken glass or metal.
- Machinery – Accidents can easily occur around industrial machinery, electrical infrastructure and equipment. It is essential that before you attempt to treat the injured person, you make sure that all electricity is switched off to prevent further injury or electrical shocks. You should also not move the person or attempt to move them if they are in a difficult position, as you may injure them further.
Look for Less Obvious Hazards
Scene safety also involves looking for less obvious risks that may not be clearly apparent to bystanders and managing them correctly.
- Bystanders – Make sure you are not placing yourself in danger by walking into a violent situation. Call emergency services immediately and explain the situation from a safe area. If it is not a dangerous situation, use bystanders to your advantage – call on them to get a First Aid Kit and AED (an Automatic External Defibrillator for use in the event of sudden cardiac arrest), and ask people to assist with bystander CPR. The more helpful people you have organised around you, the safer and the more effective your assistance will be.
- The patient – Asses the patient to see if you can tell what the cause of the emergency is. If they are experiencing SCA, they will be unconscious, unresponsive and have no pulse. In this case, you will need to begin bystander CPR immediately and call for an AED while you wait for emergency services. You can also provide rescue breaths (mouth-to-mouth) if you feel confident to do so.
- Environmental hazards – If the person is lying in water when they have a SCA, assess the situation first. If it is due to an electric shock, you will receive a similar shock if you have contact with the water or the person. This is common around docks and boats (marinas, etc.). Shut down electricity to the area as quickly as possible before you rescue the person. Call emergency services and try get your hands on an AED to monitor the person’s heart rhythm and shock the heart if they go into SCA.
In The Event of SCA, Bystander Intervention is Critical
When a sudden cardiac arrest occurs, victims need treatment as soon as possible – within 3 minutes ideally – which puts saving a life into the hands of the nearest bystanders. By safely assessing the scene and acting quickly, you can help save a life while ensuring your safety too.
At DefibsPlus, we’re advocates for placing AEDs in every public space, shopping centre, workplace, gym and school so that bystanders are empowered to act when SCA strikes. With over 75% of SCAs happening out of hospitals in our homes and workplaces, we all need to work together to save lives. Contact us today and find out more about AEDs and defibrillator training.