First There ~ First Care

Learn the basic actions of bystander care


When a crash occurs, time is critical.  Knowing what to do until help arrives can save lives.  If you're the first there, be the first to care!

j02475471.wmf (554 bytes) Recognize an Emergency

While some emergencies are obvious, others are not.  Here are some ways to recognize an emergency.

  • Hearing or seeing the crash occur.
  • Skid marks.
  • One or more vehicles stopped in an odd position.
  • Broken fence or guard rail.
  • Cracked windshield or broken glass.
  • A vehicle that is smoking.

j02475481.wmf (746 bytes) Stop to Help

Take the time to stop and help in an emergency.  When you stop, don't put yourself in danger:

  • Park a safe distance from the crash site.
  • Turn on your hazard lights and raise the hood to attract attention.
  • Watch out for other vehicles.

Approach the crash site carefully.  Check for:

  • Smoke or fire.
  • Gasoline smell.
  • Downed power lines.

Don't go any closer if you observe any of these situations or feel your safety is threatened!  If you can't stop or approach the site safely, get to a phone and call for help at your first opportunity.

j0247549.wmf (766 bytes) Call for Help

Call 9-1-1 immediately.  If you don't have quick access to a phone, send someone else to call for help while you attend to the injured victims.

Where to call:

  • A pay phone.
  • Emergency call box.
  • Nearby home or business.
  • Vehicles with mobile phones/CB radios.

Tell the dispatcher:

  • The location of the crash.
  • The number of victims and their condition.
  • What help is being given.

Be sure to answer all the dispatcher's questions and follow his/her instructions.

j0247550.wmf (754 bytes) Start the Breathing

Victims who are not breathing need your help first.  Gently tilt the person's head to its normal, eyes-front position and check for breathing -- hold your hand in front of the person's mouth and nose to see if you can feel breathing.

Start rescue breathing if you can't feel or see the person breathing.

  • If available, cover the person's mouth with a protective shield.
  • Pinch the person's nose (if not covered by the shield).
  • Blow air into the person's mouth -- one breath every five seconds.

If the chest does not rise:

  • Gently tilt the person's head back a little more.
  • Remove any objects from the mouth that may be blocking the airway.
  • Begin rescue breathing again.

Continue rescue breathing until the victim can breathe without your help.

j0247551.wmf (754 bytes) Stop the Bleeding

Once the victim is breathing, you can check for bleeding.  Put on protective gloves, if available.  To stop the bleeding:

  • Place gauze bandage or cloth on the wound and apply direct pressure.
  • If the person is able, instruct him/her to continue to apply pressure to the wound.

When EMS arrives, let them know the care you've provided and turn the scene over to them.  You've done your part to help save a life!


Special Note:  Your focus should be on assisting injured victims until EMS arrives.  If you were not able to call for help prior to starting the breathing and stopping the bleeding, do so at this time.


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Material taken from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.