If You See a Pedestrian Get Hit on the Road, What Do You Do?
POSTED: Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 3:18pm
UPDATED: Friday, December 28, 2012 - 3:33pm
In the United States, an estimated 70,000 pedestrians are injured or killed each year by cars, buses or bikes. That amounts to about 12 incidents daily. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, only a fraction of pedestrian accidents are ever reported by the police. If there is just one thing that every bystander should do is call 911 – even if the pedestrian does not appear to be badly injured.
What to do if you see a pedestrian get hit on the road
The first reaction to seeing someone getting wiped out while walking down the street may be to come to their aid. And even though there is a protocol for helping an injured pedestrian, it’s easy to panic and forget some basic rules of conduct.
If you are not the only person around, after calling 911, find out if anyone is trained in CPR. If you are the only person around, or are part of a crowd with no CPR-trained individuals, your top priority is to avoid moving the patient unless it’s absolutely necessary. Moving someone with a spine injury could make the injury worse and lead to irreversible damage. It won’t necessarily help to ask the patient if he has a spinal injury because symptoms can include pain or numbness. It’s best to wait for EMTs to arrive to immobilize the patient, just to be on the safe side.
What you can do for an injured person
- Call 911, even if the person does not seem injured
A head injury, fracture or internal bleeding does not always present symptoms right away – especially after this type of accident in which a person gets banged up and expects to feel achy.
- Keep them alert
This is crucial with a head injury and the patient is at risk for slipping into coma.
- Ask questions
Instructing the injured to stay awake is not a good strategy. Asking questions allows you to assess injuries while keeping them engaged and conscious. Ask where they feel pain or if there’s any numbness. You can also evaluate their mental state by asking their name, what year it is, who is president. But don’t hoard this information when the EMTs arrive. Telling the paramedics what you already know about the patient’s injuries could save the person’s life.
- Apply pressure to a bleeding wound
Since losing blood can be fatal, this is one thing you don’t want to postpone — especially if you’re in an urban area, where most pedestrian accidents occur, and traffic can delay help from arriving. But be sure to protect yourself by using a barrier, such a towel or t-shirt, when applying pressure to an open wound.
Good Samaritan Laws
There was a time when helping an injured person at the scene of an accident could get you into trouble. Today, you may not need to hire an Atlanta wrongful death attorney as the Good Samaritan laws in Georgia actually protect “any person…who in good faith renders emergency care at the scene of an accident or emergency.”