HSE: Arriving at an accident site

Knowing what to do at the site of an accident before the first responders arrive may be crucial for the outcome of the situation. What do you do if you are the first person to arrive at the site where a car crash occurred? 


The first thing you should do as the first person at the place of the accident, is to secure the area by putting on the emergency lights on your own car, put on a reflective vest, and set up the warning triangle. Securing the place of the accident and yourself is of the highest priority as this not only alerts others that something has happened there, but can also lead to help from other people arriving to the place of the accident. This enables more people to participate in the rescue. 


Call the emergency number for first responders (113 in Norway) and get help. If possible, get someone else to call the emergency number which allows you to check the wounded. Who, what and where is an excellent way to start the conversation when you call the emergency number.  


After you have secured the area and called the necessary emergency numbers, you should examine what the situation is like for those who have been directly involved in the car accident. Check to see if the persons involved have open airways, if they can breathe or are conscious, or bleeding. Securing the airways is the most important thing you can do as the first person to arrive at the traffic accident area as the danger of suffocating can be imminent.  

Remember basic first aid and check the person's:

  • Level of consciousness
  • Airways
  • Breathing 
  • Circulation 

Ensure that all unconscious persons have open airways; without open airways, the person will suffocate in minutes. To ensure open airways, bend the person's head back and lift the chin up and forward, keep the head in this position. Check the person's breathing and put the person in the recovery position if they can breathe on their own. Remember to place the head appropriately to keep the airways open after you have put the person in recovery position. 

Do not leave the person placed in recovery position; control their breathing regularly until medical personnel arrive. 

Start CPR if the person does not breathe on their own. Start with 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths. Repeat until medical personnel arrive.