Idiots driving dangerously past accidents (Southern Cross Drive and Chave Street)

Jonathon Reynolds 24 July 2008 27

Location of cars involved in accidentI was heading Eastbound on Southern Cross Drive just before 6pm this evening (23rd July) and saw the aftermath of what appeared to be a single car accident on the other side of the road (Westbound) – this was the intersection of Southern Cross Drive and Chave Street (Holt)

What had caught my eye was a guy in the middle of the road waving furiously in attempt to warn oncoming westbound traffic that there had been an accident. I did a U turn just up the road and parked my car about 50 metres back from the intersection (blue dot) and put my hazard lights on (a) to provide some warning that there was a problem up ahead and hopefully slow the traffic down and (b) to force traffic to the centre lane to avoid the car (red dot – car 1) that was nose in to the curb and blocking the curb-side lane.

The guy that was doing all the waving had called for an ambulance and asked me to check that the lady who was sitting in car 1 was alright as she was obviously dazed. I spoke with the lady and reassured her that assistance was on the way and used my mobile so that she could call her husband. Fortunately a trained nurse pulled up and was able to assess the situation properly.

Whilst this was all happening I was amazed at the behaviour of the drivers going past the accident. I swear people were speeding up to get past and squeezing and jostling to get into the single lane. There was a lot of wreckage strewn across the road (large chunks of broken plastic and glass) and I am surprised that there wasn’t another accident the number of times I heard cars locking up their brakes. Unbeknownst to me at the time there was a second car involved (red dot – car 2) that had gone across both lanes and ended up amongst the trees in someones front yard.

Within about 5 minutes, two fire tenders and a police car were onsite and the fireys were attending to the woman in the first car and driver (and possibly passengers) in the second car. 3 minutes later an ambulance arrived – the woman in car 1 was given some oxygen by the paramedics.

I hung around for a couple more minutes before heading off as there was nothing more I could do and the police had the traffic under control by that stage. Besides a big yellow fire engine tender with their halogen spot lights and flashing lights parked across the road is far more effective than a sedan with hazard lights.

A couple of observations:

  1. If you see a car with hazard lights flashing this is not an immediate invitation to speed up and squeeze into a single lane to get around it. They tend to be called “hazard lights” for a reason.
  2. To the guy that was standing in the middle of the road trying furiously waving to warn motorists and slow the traffic down – Sir, you need to be congratulated on what you did, that took balls, and I’m amazed you didn’t end up a statistic yourself.
  3. Can anyone suggest how I go about putting myself on a proper First Aid course. I’d much rather be able to assist properly next time I’m in a similar situation. I felt somewhat awkward and helpless as all I could do was reassure the lady in the first car that help was on the way.

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27 Responses to Idiots driving dangerously past accidents (Southern Cross Drive and Chave Street)
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Ozi Ozi 9:41 pm 18 Oct 12

Good work for doing something.

As previously mentioned, the ‘D’ in DRABC stands for Danger and is the first letter for a reason: it is the most important consideration on arriving at an incident. By taking 10 seconds to take a deep breath (“Hands in pockets”) then you can get a much better appreciation of the potential dangers.

There is no point in rushing in if it means you might become a further casualty. In your incident, traffic control and isolation of the incident was the primary concern to remove the danger of some idiot crashing into the wreckage or hitting someone on the road who was trying to help.

Also, I carry a first aid kit, window smasher thing (spring loaded pin to break windows which includes a seatbelt cutter) and reflective triangle with a stand which can be set up on the road to warn people.

peterh peterh 10:41 am 25 Jul 08

Footloose said :

DRABC is basic first aid; I think it should be taught in school – college – if it isnt already. This includes heart massage/mouth to mouth. Anything like adreanalin shots to the heart or defibrillator use is out of my league.

PeterH is correct. When an accident occurs, you have two choices; help or get out of the way. There is nearly always somone who is leading the situation. If you get flagged down, ask how you can help and respond. Someone needs to call the cops; another to do traffic/idiot control. And you need at least two people per injured person to perform (beyond DRABC) amatuer first aid safely and correctly IMHO. Whatever, if theres a hole with blood coming out, of course your going to plug it.

Sitting with the injured is one of the most important jobs. As Thumper said, you are monitoring the person and checking their state of conciousness. Shock is generally the universal injury in accidents and it can cause all sorts of problems if it goes unchecked. No matter how well someone says they are, try and get them to lay down somewhere safe and wait for the emergency crews.

JR, Do your first aid course. Im impressed that you’ve already thought about what to do ‘next time’ you help your fellow man. With more confidence/practice, that awkward helpless feeling subsides.

and always remember, if they are strapped into a chair, and there is no danger, leave them there. if they cannot turn their head, or you think they have a spinal injury, assist them in ensuring that they have their head supported on both sides.

if there is an issue, say a fire in the car or leaking petrol on a hot day, you must assess the situation first. Don’t run in to help, if it means that you may become a casualty. Danger is paramount to any first aid person.

If there is no way to get near the victim, as they are trapped, or the only part of them that you can see is, say, their hand, hold it, after letting them know that they are there. The comfort that this will provide speaks volumes, in the eyes of the victim, there is someone else there who is trying to help.

bigfeet bigfeet 10:16 pm 24 Jul 08

I learnt the importance of a first aid course when I lived in North West WA. I came upon a car rolled over on the major highway, but we were about 3 hours from any town in either direction, and about 2.5 hours from any mobile phone coverage. The driver was trapped in the car and his wife was lying not far from the car.

All I did basically was stop some bleeding, provide some shade, reassure and send for help. But the course I had done gave me the confidence to apply the bandages to stop bleeding, and to monitor.

It was about 4 hours before qualified help turned up.

Ok…in Canberra, you are probably not going to have to wait more than 15 minutes for an ambulance, but its not inconceivable that , say, heading up to the snow, or going up toward Cowra, or even on the Federal Highway, that it could be up to an hour before any help arrives.

Bundybear Bundybear 9:23 pm 24 Jul 08

First aid course is a brilliant way to gain enough knowledge to do what it sets out to teach – Emergency First Aid. Which is mostly about having the confidence to help in an emergency situation without killing anyone or getting injured yourself. Go for it. And well done with your preparedness to help and willingness to be directed in how to assist at the scene.

bd84 bd84 9:03 pm 24 Jul 08

ant said :

Often you hear remarks about an accident and people “slowing down to rubber neck”. Well, I always slow down if there’s some kind of imbroglio up ahead. I’m not rubber necking, I usually don’t even look. But if there’s cars, wreckage, debris, and people walking around, you got to slow down.

Exactly. But there will always be morons doing whatever they can to avoid it or to get ahead of someone.

ant ant 8:59 pm 24 Jul 08

Often you hear remarks about an accident and people “slowing down to rubber neck”. Well, I always slow down if there’s some kind of imbroglio up ahead. I’m not rubber necking, I usually don’t even look. But if there’s cars, wreckage, debris, and people walking around, you got to slow down.

Footloose Footloose 7:49 pm 24 Jul 08

DRABC is basic first aid; I think it should be taught in school – college – if it isnt already. This includes heart massage/mouth to mouth. Anything like adreanalin shots to the heart or defibrillator use is out of my league.

PeterH is correct. When an accident occurs, you have two choices; help or get out of the way. There is nearly always somone who is leading the situation. If you get flagged down, ask how you can help and respond. Someone needs to call the cops; another to do traffic/idiot control. And you need at least two people per injured person to perform (beyond DRABC) amatuer first aid safely and correctly IMHO. Whatever, if theres a hole with blood coming out, of course your going to plug it.

Sitting with the injured is one of the most important jobs. As Thumper said, you are monitoring the person and checking their state of conciousness. Shock is generally the universal injury in accidents and it can cause all sorts of problems if it goes unchecked. No matter how well someone says they are, try and get them to lay down somewhere safe and wait for the emergency crews.

JR, Do your first aid course. Im impressed that you’ve already thought about what to do ‘next time’ you help your fellow man. With more confidence/practice, that awkward helpless feeling subsides.

peterh peterh 4:11 pm 24 Jul 08

Doctor Evil said :

Been in that sort of situation a few times, both before and after first aid training and lots of hands-on practice, certainly know which one felt the most comfortable and confident.

You’re right though, nothing worse than someone with a couple of hours training that suddenly thinks they’re a paramedic.

one of the worst, though is the guy who thinks that he knows first aid, then tries to PULL the victim out if the car. I have hit one guy who tried it – knocked him on his backside, he fell over more from the shock of being smacked in the arm I think. I will do it again if I need to.

Though this pales in comparison to the passenger who has realised that they are trapped, is starting to get hysterical while a group of people stand around and watch them.

(and don’t lift a finger to help)

I want my tazer or electric cattle prod….

If you see an accident, and you cannot assist, don’t just stand around. try to see if you can help someone, ask the first aid person, or whoever is acting with authority. If it is a fatal, and the passenger is trapped, DON’T TELL THEM THAT THE DRIVER IS DEAD!!! not the best way to keep someone calm at all.

and not very positive for all the others who are trying to calm them down, either.

smokey4 smokey4 3:43 pm 24 Jul 08

reply to Jakez

“In VF/VT, the remedy is the famous jumper cables and paddles – the defibrillator (though some ambos call it a “Packer Whacker”, after Kerry Packer donated defibrillators to the NSW Ambulance Service). The paddles are really just electrodes. They are placed so that the heart is roughly between them. So when you hit the Go Button, the paddles deliver about 300 joules of electrical energy in a very short period of time – about 4-12 ms. The electricity passes in through one electrode, the skin, the heart and then out through the skin to the other electrode. The electrical shock delivered to the heart inside is similar to gently slapping a hysterical person on the face to bring them back to their senses. The electrical shock stops the rapid chaotic electrical activity – the VF/VT. Then, hopefully, a natural pacemaker, the Sino Atrial node in the heart restarts in its regular rhythm, and 80 ml of blood squirt out every second.

Defibrillation works only if there is already electrical activity going on in the heart.”

Some shopping centres, places of work etc have these devices available.

jennybel75 jennybel75 3:29 pm 24 Jul 08

For First Aid training there’s also Parasol EMT (1300 662 601) who are all ex paramedics and ambos. There’s also the Red Cross (1300 367 428), who I did my Senior First Aid Cert with.

A very good skill set to have.

And, JR, good on you for taking the time to stop and help, sounds like you did a good job. Reassurance is key in keeping accident victims calm and from hurting themselves further.

Doctor Evil Doctor Evil 2:59 pm 24 Jul 08

Been in that sort of situation a few times, both before and after first aid training and lots of hands-on practice, certainly know which one felt the most comfortable and confident.

You’re right though, nothing worse than someone with a couple of hours training that suddenly thinks they’re a paramedic.

peterh peterh 2:02 pm 24 Jul 08

Doctor Evil said :

All true Peter, but it’s a bit like sex education at school, no substitute for the real thing 😉

If you are confronted with a serious accident, you may find that you just do what is needed.

what scares me are the people that announce that they are a first aid trained person. this is not at all helpful.

if there is someone directing others at a crash site with authority, they will probably know what they are doing. I will always defer to their leadership.

PBO PBO 1:35 pm 24 Jul 08

Cannot stress how handy it is to have a First Aid Kit available. Many years ago i was doing some work in the basement of Calvary Hospital and i badly cut up my hand on one of their linen trolleys. Within an instant there was a large pool of blood and some minor veinous spray, do you think that there is a first aid kit anywhere in the basement/ground floor of Calvary? No there is not. I had to go to the emergency room (which happened to be empty) and wait for fifteen minutes to be attended. Two days after that i got the bill and i was an employee of Calvary.

So to cut it short, always have a First Aid Kit handy

Doctor Evil Doctor Evil 1:18 pm 24 Jul 08

All true Peter, but it’s a bit like sex education at school, no substitute for the real thing 😉

peterh peterh 1:08 pm 24 Jul 08

Footloose said :

You can do the St Johns Ambulance course but, if your like me, you’ll probably be too nervous to ever use everything you learn there. Its handy information to know and I myself would use it if I was, say, in the bush/somewhere remote and there were no emergency services around. Otherwise, I like to leave the serious stuff to the professionals.
You’ve done a great thing by 1)just stopping and 2)talking to the driver.
Having been one of the first on the scene of an accident on two occasions, I’ve been delegated the task of talking to the injured both times. It helps with the treatment of shock, a condition that is pretty much suffered by everyone in an accident. And it’s not easy either; what do you discuss with someone who was going skiing and now has suspected spinal injuries?

footloose, you don’t even notice that you were nervous about doing it. you just find that you have assessed any danger, checked that the accident victim can respond, their airway is clear, they are not slumped over and going blue, etc, etc.

you just do it. you don’t notice, you just get in there and help out as best you can. If you have a first aid certificate, at least you know what to look out for for basic triage. You probably won’t be able to recognise internal bleeding, or fractured bones (unless they have broken through the flesh), but you will be able to assist someone, ensuring that they are at least sort of comfortable.

if you have learned first aid, carry a kit in the boot of your car. (I have mine next to my fire extinguisher – spare, main one is under a seat in easy reach)

Have a first aid kit in the garage, and the medicine cupboard. i have one on my belt for bushwalking.

Doctor Evil Doctor Evil 12:36 pm 24 Jul 08

JR – if you are serious about attaining the skills to apply in these situations, by all means do a first aid course. But, as someone has already pointed out, learning them in a classroom and dealing with a real world emergency are two very different things.

Do you have kids, or friends with kids? Do they play sport?

Even if you don’t, there are heaps of sporting clubs around canberra that are usually desperate for first aid volunteers. They will often cover or at least subsidise the course costs, and in most cases they will usually place you with an experienced first aider until you get the confidence and experience to fly solo.

League, union, soccer, etc – take your pick. All you need is a couple of spare hours each weekend….

BenMac BenMac 12:15 pm 24 Jul 08

I organised our Level 2 (Senior First Aid) through Allens Training (02) 4822 8066, based out of in Goulburn but they do courses in Canberra fairly frequently and were cheaper than St John’s at the time

My employer uses Allens as our First Aid trainer. We also need a Level 2 as part of our work, and have to do a CPR refresher every year. Not sure about price, but the woman who comes from Golbourn (can’t remember her name) is very good.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 11:23 am 24 Jul 08

While everyone remembers St John’s for doing first aid courses, its like remembering that only Woolworth’s sells groceries.

I organised our Level 2 (Senior First Aid) through Allens Training (02) 4822 8066, based out of in Goulburn but they do courses in Canberra fairly frequently and were cheaper than St John’s at the time.

Good work though. 🙂

Spectra Spectra 10:54 am 24 Jul 08

Work paid for my St John’s course (after we passed the magic number of employees requiring an official first aid officer), and it was pretty good.

Footloose – you are quite right that, wherever possible, it should be left the professionals, but the whole point of the course is to be able to keep someone alive long enough for professionals to arrive. One of the things they drill into you on the course is that one of your first actions should be to make sure an ambulance is on its way. But your actions during the 5 minutes waiting for it could make all the difference.

JR – as has been said, it sounds like you pretty much did everything right anyway (though I would still encourage you to go on a St John’s course). If they’re talking to you, not in any immediate danger, and not obviously bleeding or what have you, then getting an ambulance and reassuring them is pretty much all anyone with a first aid certificate would have done. Good job. It’s good to know that not everyone on the road is a complete tosser 🙂

Wino – hehe – “crash” course….

Aurelius Aurelius 10:52 am 24 Jul 08

JR, sounds like you did the best in the circumstances. Thumper’s right – a St John’s course is a great investment, even if you never have to use it.
As for the standard of drivers, it seems that having a drivers licence is a permit to become totally self-absorbed and impatient. There’s little that can be done about this that doesn’t involve a firearm and is likely to upset those guys with the flashing blue lights on their roofracks.

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