What to do in case of a traffic accident: A comprehensive guide

by Lorraine Williamson
traffic accidents

Despite continuous efforts to promote road safety and prevent accidents, traffic incidents remain a daily occurrence. Therefore, knowing how to respond to these situations is essential for creating a safe environment for victims and everyone involved.

Rapid action in the crucial minutes before rescue services arrive can make a significant difference in the outcomes for those affected. The DGT detailed what to do using the PAS approach in the event of a traffic accident.

Responding to a traffic accident: The PAS approach

When faced with an emergency, it’s vital not to let nerves or lack of knowledge hinder your response. Being prepared and knowing how to act when involved in or witnessing a traffic accident is of utmost importance. The promptness of medical care directly influences the health outcomes of victims, with early attention from appropriate health teams potentially saving lives and minimising disabilities. The presence of emergency services, including firefighters, police, and medical personnel, is essential for improving response times and the quality of care.

The PAS approach—Protect, Alert, Help—is internationally recognised and is the foundation for initial actions in emergencies. This protocol emphasises protection at the scene, alerting emergency services, and then, when appropriate knowledge is available, providing assistance to injured individuals.

PAS: Protect, Alert, Help

Protect (P)

The foremost priority is safeguarding both yourself and the victims:

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  1. Park your vehicle in a safe location, preferably before the accident site, and clear of the road to prevent obstructing traffic or causing additional accidents.
  2. Turn off the ignition, apply the handbrake, and activate hazard lights.
  3. Put on a reflective vest before exiting your vehicle.
  4. Retrieve warning triangles or the Emergency Beacon (V16) and use them to mark the accident scene. Place them 50 metres in both directions for two-way roads or at least 50 metres apart for one-way highways
  5. Avoid ignition sources, like smoking near the accident area.
  6. Refrain from altering the position of vehicles or victims unless it’s necessary to ensure their safety.
Help (A)

Assisting effectively requires proper knowledge, techniques, and skills. Therefore, if you are uncertain, refrain from taking action that might worsen the situation:

  1. Only provide aid if you possess basic first aid knowledge.
  2. If the accident involves a motorcyclist, do not remove their helmet.
  3. Avoid rescuing individuals from unstable vehicles.
  4. If necessary, open the airway of victims.
  5. Apply pressure to control bleeding.
  6. Do not move victims unless there’s a risk of fire or explosion.
  7. Loosen tight clothing on victims.
  8. Shield victims from extreme weather conditions.
  9. Refrain from giving food or drinks to victims.
Alert (S)

Being the first witness is crucial for activating emergency services efficiently. In Spain and the rest of Europe, dialing 112 connects to emergency services. Moreover, ensure you provide the following information:

  1. Accurate accident location (street, number, kilometre point, town).
  2. Number and type of vehicles involved.
  3. Count of injured individuals and any available information about them.
  4. Specific accident details (trapped individuals, vehicle dangers, etc.).
  5. Offer a contact phone number.
  6. Share any other pertinent information for emergency teams.

The PAS approach—Protect, Alert, Help—guides individuals on responding to traffic accidents in a safe and effective manner. By prioritising safety, alerting emergency services promptly, and offering appropriate assistance, bystanders can significantly impact the outcomes for victims. Once emergency services are on the scene, the responsibility for rescue shifts to the professionals, ensuring the best possible care for those affected.

Also read: Four individuals sanctioned in La Rioja for cheating on driving exam

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