The Golden 60 Minutes after an Accident

22 December, 2017

The volume of traffic on Indian roads is increasing by the year with over-speeding, indiscipline and flagrant disregard of traffic rules being the mainstay of Indian drivers; all these coupled with pot holes and poorly designed roads are leading to accidents that are believed to average more than one every minute and a road accident death every four minutes or less. Statistics show that as far back as 2011, there were 4.98 lakh reported accidents, out of which 1.42 lakh people succumbed to death while 5 lakh suffered injuries.

The sad part of all this is that only about 20% of accident victims reach hospitals in time to receive interventional treatment that can save their lives. In some cases, even the well-meaning onlookers cause more harm by manipulating the injured person’s body that worsens his situation.

When an accident occurs, the road is the last place for the injured victim to be. It is essential that the victim reach a well-equipped hospital as fast as possible within ‘The Golden Hour’; they have a higher chance of survival from severe multiple injuries and fractures if they are provided specialized treatment within the first 60 minutes of injury according to doctors. Majority of critically injured accident victims can be saved by urgent resuscitation measures to avoid severe shock and blood loss leading to secondary irreversible changes to the brain and kidneys. Unfortunately only about 20% of accident victims in India are able to access emergency medical care within the first hour – the remaining majority unfortunately succumbs to their injuries.

Things to do

Traditionally, a crowd usually rushes to the accidents, but few are inclined or even aware of what to do in such emergencies – for some, taking a selfie is more important on such occasions. Onlookers should immediately call the ambulance and police and keep the injured person calm and reassured that help is on the way. If there is bleeding, the onlooker should try to staunch it by applying pressure with a wad of clean cloth.

Remove all tight clothing so that the airways are free for normal breathing. Remove any foreign objects from the nose or mouth that are obstructing breathing. Immobilize any visibly fractured area with a wooden stick or cardboard. Slide the victim onto a rigid board to prevent further damage to injured organs before transporting him to a hospital if an ambulance isn’t available immediately. The bottom-line is that the victim should be rushed to the hospital within the golden hour for timely treatment by experts.

The reason why onlookers still don’t rush the accident victim to the hospital is due to the earlier rules where the person bringing the victim to the hospital had to provide all his own contact details too. The public needs to be awakened to the fact that such archaic rules no longer apply and they shouldn’t fear being victimized by getting involved in saving the injured person.

Even though accident protection devices like wearing helmets, seat belts and cars with airbags are being implemented more these days, the injuries from road accidents are also getting worse with each year.