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Life-saving measures at the scene of an accident

Life-saving measures taken before professional help arrives can make a difference for the ultimate survival of the victim.

The victim of a traffic accident unconscious on their car’s front seat

An open airway and regular breathing are of great importance to the survival of a traffic accident victim. A loud victim easily attracts all the attention, while another victim sitting or lying quietly may go unnoticed. Making noise is a clear sign that the victim is breathing, but one must always make sure an unconscious victim is.

Opening up the airway

A helper reaches from the back seat to hold a traffic accident victim’s airway open.

If a traffic accident victim is seated in the vehicle, their airway should be opened by bending their head gently backwards and raising their chin. When moving the head of another, avoid excessively tilting it.

See if the victim is breathing normally and if their chest is moving in a regular fashion. For example, you can use the back of your hand to feel for an air flow.

Snoring or noisy breathing may be the sign of an obstruction in the airway. Often, the airway is blocked by the person’s tongue hanging down their throat. By bending the head back this condition can be relieved. If a foreign object is visible in the throat, a helper can try to carefully remove it with their hand.

When opening up the airway of a victim seated on the front seat, it is necessary to consider the danger posed by a possible undeployed airbag both to the victim and the helper. To ensure safety, a victim seated on the front seat should always be helped through the back seat if at all possible.

If opening a victim’s airway inside the vehicle proves impossible, conduct an emergency repositioning to a safe location.

For a victim lying on the ground, the airway should be opened by first turning them onto their back and then gently bending their head back by the forehead and lifting their chin.

If the person is not breathing normally after their airway is opened, begin administering CPR.

A normally breathing victim lying on the ground should always be positioned on their side to ensure an open airway. Turning a person onto their side is detailed in the Encountering an unconscious person online class.

Staunching bleeding

You can staunch a bleeding wound by applying pressure on it, for example using your hat, your scarf, or another item of clothing.

Updated 1.5.2021