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More lives could be saved if those first on scene were first aid trained

Would you know what to do if you were first to arrive at the scene of a car accident?

It was a flicker of light off the side of the road that caught the eye of Jerome as he travelled down a lonely West Australian bush track. 

Jerome saw wheel marks disappearing off the road, a car with a smashed windscreen, the roof crushed and lights flickering.

Then he heard a noise further down in the shrubs, and saw a young woman pulling herself up towards the road.

“Holy crap — what do I do now?” thought Jerome.

For many people, this is the point at which they’d become uncertain about what action to take, possibly doing something that could endanger the injured or themselves. 

Did you know that up to 15% of motor vehicle accident deaths could be prevented if first aid was administered before paramedics arrived? Based on our national road toll over the past five years alone, that’s more than 1,100 Australian lives that could have been saved.

Fortunately, Jerome had only completed a first aid course a few months earlier, and he immediately referred to his training. 

“Assess the person, check for danger…” he went through the steps in his mind.

Before moving the woman, Jerome checked for injuries then drove her to a nearby property to use the phone and call for help. 

Ninety per cent of car accidents in Australia are caused by distraction (including mobile phone), fatigue, speed, and alcohol or drugs. It is known that the care provided in the first few minutes of a car accident can make a significant difference to the survival of the patient. A study by Flinders University in 2013 showed that a bystander’s decision not to intervene could be due to insufficient first aid knowledge and, therefore, an inability to judge and determine the severity of injuries and the need for first aid.

Jerome’s first aid training gave him the knowledge and confidence to make decisions saved a life. Had Jerome not come by and checked the scene and the woman’s injuries, who knows how long she would have waited for help, and what state she would have been in when it finally came? 

Would you know what to do? 

With 1,266 deaths on Australian roads last year, it’s time to learn first aid and be ready to respond if you are first at an accident site.

Did you know

  • Globally, there are 1.25 million road traffic deaths and 50 million people injured each year
  • Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death of among those aged 15–29
  • 49% of those killed are pedestrians
  • One of the most common causes of death for road crash casualties is anoxia – a lack of oxygen supply – caused by a blocked airway.

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