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Road Accidents - Role of First Responder

Updated: Apr 6

Highway Emergency

Fueled by the Economic development in India in the last few years, we now have increased number of cars on the road and the road conditions have also improved a lot. As a consequence the average speed of cars have increased manifold. However, adherence to the road safety rules is very poor in India causing many more road accidents. As per the report published by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, India has the dubious distinction of ranking 1st across the 199 countries in road accidents. India accounts for almost 11% of accident related deaths in the world. As per the report, 4,49,002 accidents took place in 2019 leading to 1,51,113 deaths. Good news is that India has committed to reduce fatalities by 50% by 2030 in the Stockholm Declaration.

Good Samaritan Law

A major cause of victim fatality in India is because bystanders very rarely come forward to help. It is estimated that three out of four people are hesitant to help injured accident victims due to fear of police harassment, detention at hospitals, and prolonged legal formalities. Even if someone wants to help, they avoid doing so due to these factors.

In 2012, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court of India, requesting the Hon'ble court to safeguard Good Samaritans who come forward to help the injured. A Good Samaritan is a person who has no expectation of payment or reward and without any duty of care or special relationship, voluntarily comes forward to help the victim. On March 30, 2016, the Supreme Court of India gave "force of law" to the guidelines for protection of Good Samaritans. This was done to protect bystanders who come forward to the aid and rescue of victims of road crashes.

While the government is taking several measures to reduce fatalities, it is important all citizens should educate themselves adequately to provide First Aid at the time of need rather than wait for the the Doctors and Paramedical Technicians to arrive. The first hour after the accident is known as the “Golden Hour”. If proper emergency procedures are followed during this golden hour, the survivability chance of the accident victim improves manifold. These procedures are not very complicated but it is important and are taught in all basic paramedical course. We should follow them properly otherwise it can cause harm to the victim. Remember, as a bystander you can help the victim in several ways:

  • Be a Good Samaritan and help save a victim but always remember your own safety is as important.

  • To avoid further damage, inform the traffic that an accident has happened

  • Make the scene safe and remain calm

  • Inform the nearby Hospital immediately and call an ambulance

  • Do not move the victim unless absolutely necessary but monitor them regularly

  • Handle the patient very gently

Some of the vital activities that should be done are as follows:

Airway blockage

A major misconception is that most road accident deaths happen due to injury and blood loss. In reality, most cases death happens due to loss of oxygen supply caused by blockage of airway passage due to high impact and shock. Loss of oxygen can cause death in less than 4 minutes.

Follow the rules of ABC

  • Airway – Clear the breathing track

    • Turn the victim to one side

    • Tilt the head back and point the face downwards and allow vomit or blood to drain out

    • Remove any object like dirt, tooth etc from inside the mouth

  • Breathing – Help restore breathing by mouth to mouth resuscitation

    • Tilt head back, support jaw

    • With good mouth to mouth seal, blow into the victims mouth and ensure that his/her chest is rising

  • Circulation – Stop any bleeding

    • Put pressure with your hand on the wound to stop bleeding

    • If heavy bleeding, cover the wound with any clean cloth you find nearby

Formal education where you can learn First Responder skills

Paramedical Technician training and Medical Education are a formal way of learning the above skills. Indian universities offer various option to students after class 12th to complete a degree in various Paramedical courses or attain a Medical Degree. Emergency Medical Procedures are taught in every course, be it Critical Care Technician, OT Technician, Radiology Technician, Medical Lab Technician or Dialysis Technician. Basic Life Support is part of the curriculum in each of these courses and students get to learn what procedures to follow in case of an emergency.


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