When it comes to accidents, prevention is beyond doubt better than cure, particularly as the sort of intensive cure required to save the lives of accident victims is not available everywhere. And given how simple it is to ‘prevent’ an accident, it should neverreally happen, or happen very rarely as it does in the world’s safest cities where road manners are scrupulously followed. In the US city of Fort Collins in Colarado, accidents happen once in 14 years! But since we do not live in Fort Collins (roughly 250 fatal accidents happen in India every day), we need to be prepared at all times.
This blog is not as much for those who wind up in a wreck as for thosewho might find themselves around a victim; it is aimed at caregivers, hospitals and bystanders all of whom may be able to save a life with the right knowledge.
In cases of medical emergencies caused by serious accidents, the factor that often stands between life and death istime: the sooner the injured reach a hospital, preferably one equipped with emergency trauma care facilities, and start receiving intensive treatment the better are there chances of survival. It is because of this that the 60 minutes immediately after a crash are known as the golden hour.
Patients in severe trauma often require speedy surgical intervention. Complications such as shock may occur if they are not managed appropriately and expeditiously. It, therefore, becomes a priority to move such patients at the earliest to specialists, most often found at a hospital trauma center, for definitive treatment.
Soon after an accident, the bodyexperiences a series of extreme events including changes in blood pressure and respiratory patterns, obstruction of the airway, convulsions and profuse bleeding, which can send a patient into shock. Among the other reactions to a traumatic injury can be an altered mental status, fever, increased heart rate, generalized edema, increased cardiac output and rate of metabolism.
Since accidents are the primary cause of death of people in their prime (those below 40), their consequences go way beyond the level of personal bereavement affecting a family. Whether they cause death or disability, accidents lead to the depletion of a nation’s most productive resource, its young people, and this in turn has a serious impact on families, societies and the nation itself. Accidents are set to be the leading cause of death by 2020 in India, an ominous prediction indeed for a nation whose economic growth is centred chiefly on its young population.
It is for these larger reasons that the nation as a whole needs to get serious about road safety and move purposefully on both the education and enforcement fronts. If needed, we must enact new laws, introduce mandatory courses on road safety in school curricula and improve enforcement to ensure complete compliance with existing traffic regulations. It is well known that effective enforcement of even simple regulations that require motorists to wear helmets and seat belts, for example, can substantially reduce fatality in accidents.
However, if you ever happen to be at the scene of an accident then here are the things you need to do to save lives:
- Shift the injured to a safe place
- Check ABCD that is Airway, Breathing, Circulation andDisability
- Give first-aid (if trained)
- Dial for an ambulance or an accident rescue number
- Prevent a crowd from collecting around the victim
- Protect his belongings
- Re-assure relatives or friends
- Assist in transportation
- Do not leave the injured unattended
- Do not panic
- Do not pour water into his mouth
- Do not transport unassisted