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Car accidents » First aid

If you are one of the first people at the scene of a car accident where there is a casualty, knowledge of first aid could help make them as comfortable as possible until the ambulance arrives, and in some cases even save a life. There are around 300,000 injuries on Britains roads each year from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, cycling accidents and pedestrian injuries, and of these around 3,500 are fatal.

The following advice we give is basic and does not compare to the depth of knowledge you can learn on a first aid course.A recommended first aid course is that which is supplied by St Johns Ambulance, and you can find out more about this at www.sja.org.uk/training.

Some of the common injuries that occur in car accidents include whiplash, cuts, broken bones, head injuries and back injuries.You should not attempt to move anyone who has sustained a traumatic injury and who may have an injured back, neck or head, or any broken bones.

Ensure the accident scene is safe

Make sure that there is no further danger at the scene check that oncoming traffic has enough warning of the car accident so that the situation is not made even worse.Switch off the ignitions of the cars involved, and make sure nobody lights up a cigarette, especially if you can smell petrol.

Call 999

Either call 999 yourself or get a bystander to call for the emergency services.Ensure that precise directions are given to your location so that professional help can come as soon as possible.

Check consciousness

Tap the casualty on their collarbone and talk loudly to them, asking them to open their eyes if they can.If the casualty is conscious, reassure them and relay any information they give you about their condition to the 999 operator.If the casualty is unconscious, you need to check their airway, breathing and circulation.


If you believe the person does not have any broken bones or injuries to the head, neck or back, to clear their airway put one hand on the forehead of the injured person and tip the head back gently.Put two fingers underneath their chin and raise it up, checking whether there is anything obstructing their airway.

If you believe the casualty does have traumatic injuries, such as broken bones, do not move their head, just lift their chin up and check that they do not have any clear obstructions in their mouth that may hinder their breathing.


Check whether the casualty is breathing by:

  • Listening to their mouth
  • Feeling for breathing by putting your cheek over the casualtys mouth
  • Watching their chest for any movement


Signs of circulation include breathing, coughing and movement.If the casualty shows no signs of circulation, they need to be given rescue breaths and chest compressions.

It is only advisable for anyone who has been on a first aid course to carry out these treatments, so if you do not feel confident in your ability to help a casualty in this situation, do not go ahead with it.See if any of the bystanders are able to help or speak with the 999 operator for advice.

Treating cuts

There are often cuts from glass on people who have been involved in a car accident, and if bleeding is serious then the casualty may go into shock, exhibiting symptoms such as dizziness, clammy skin and blue lips.If you see someone is bleeding, find out exactly where the bleeding is coming from by feeling (with disposable gloves on, if possible) over and under their body.

Once you have found the source of the bleeding, see if there are any foreign bodies, such as glass, in the wound.If the wound is clean, apply direct pressure to it with a clean pad or other material.If the wound has a foreign body in it, do not apply pressure, but push the sides of the wound together.

If the wound is on a limb that is not broken, try to elevate it as this will help reduce the blood loss.


It is important:

  • to keep the casualty warm with jackets, blankets, or other clothing or material available
  • to reassure the casualty and to try to keep their attention and keep them conscious
  • to not move the casualty at all if they may have broken bones or an injured back, neck or head
  • to not remove a motorcyclists helmet unless it is absolutely necessary

First aid kits

It is a very good idea to carry a first aid kit with you in your car it could save your life or the life of another person.There are many first aid kits to choose from, from small ones that cost under 4 pounds to more extensive kits of around 25 pounds.

Been in a car accident that wasnt your fault?

If you or a family member has been injured in a car accident that was somebody elses fault, then you are entitled to compensation. We help thousands of UK road users make successful compensation claims after they have been injured, and we do not charge a penny.

We guarantee that our service is completely free from start to finish, no matter what the outcome of your claim.For free legal advice on making a car accident claim, call us today on 01582 437070 or simply complete our online claim form and our advisors shall contact you.