With increasing vehicle population, there is an ever-increasing number of accidents on our roads. Though our vehicles travel much more slowly compared to global standards, our accident rate per 1000 vehicles is among the highest in the world. Again the number of deaths per thousand accidents is very high in India.
Annually about 100,000 people die in accidents in India. Most of the people who die are on two wheelers or pedestrians. Many of these deaths are preventable by adherence to traffic rules, timely medical attention and better roads. Many accident victims die hours later because of lack of medical treatment.
There are many misconceptions about the role of citizens in accidents. One commonly held wrong belief is that citizens must not touch an accident victim, but should wait for the police to come. Another absurd belief is that the accident victim cannot be given medical treatment until it is registered as a medico-legal case and referred by the police. Another wrong notion is that an accident victim can only be treated by government doctors, and that no private medical practitioner can treat a medico-legal case.
All these notions are patently wrong and should be firmly dispelled. Many innocent lives are lost because of these absurd beliefs and the resultant callous attitude. It is the first duty of the bystanders and physicians to save the accident victim. The law is very clear and categorical -- life comes first, and medico-legal case comes later. The citizens who find an accident victim should do everything to help and save him. It is the doctor's immediate legal and moral duty to do everything to save the victims. This applies to both private doctors and government doctors.
If the citizens or doctors neglect a victim and thereby cause his death, they are guilty of culpable homicide and criminal negligence. It could be anybody who is lying on the street unattended. Today it may be a stranger, tomorrow it could be your child. Please do your best to save the accident victims.
What do you do ?
You can help save lives by a few simple steps:
If you see an accident, and if you are driving a vehicle, park your vehicle at some distance to the extreme left of the road, without obstructing any traffic.
Before rushing to the accident site, make sure that there is no petrol or diesel leaking.
Make sure that there are no sparks or fire.
If the engine is still running, first switch off the ignition.
Do not light a cigarette or matches even if it is night, until you are sure there is no fuel leakage. It is always desirable to carry a torch with you in the vehicle.
Do not shift or move the victim with a jerk. Do not move him even while switching off the ignition, except to the extent absolutely necessary.
If the victim is breathing, then verify if there are any serious injuries or wounds.
If there is a bleeding wound, then apply a cloth and tie with a tourniquet or handkerchief above the bleeding wound. This will stop the bleeding. Keep releasing the knot once in five minutes. This is necessary to prevent gangrene of the limb.
Then set out to inspect the extent of injury. If the victim is conscious and is not able to move arms, there may be a spinal injury. It is best not to disturb him, since any vigorous movement may aggravate the injury. Send for medical help and wait for an ambulance.
If the victim is unconscious and not breathing, then gently bring him out of the car with the help of another person and stretch him on the floor.
If there is not breathing, give him mouth to mouth respiration as follows:
- Clear his nostrils and mouth of blood, mucus or any other obstructions.
- Sit on one side of the face, close his nostrils with the fingers of one hand and hold the chin with the other hand.
- Take a deep breath and put your open mouth to the open mouth of the victim. Blow air into his mouth, keeping the nostrils closed.
- Keep repeating once every five seconds
- If there is no pulse and heart beat, simultaneously external cardiac massage must be given. Pump the heart forcefully on the left side of the chest, keeping the wrist of one hand on the wrist of the other hand. Pump quickly at the rate of one thrust per second. After every five thrusts, give mouth to mouth respiration.
- If there is response and the patient starts breathing, then ensure medical attention at the earliest.
- While shifting him to a van or an ambulance or another vehicle, move him gently without causing further injury. Please take particular care not to move the head or neck with a jerk. Make sure that the neck is not bent either way, and hold it in a normal position.
A little training in first aid will be of great use in such cases, and can save lives.
Inform the police of what you have seen and extend full cooperation.
Do not get into an argument with another driver involved in the accident. It will only make things worse.