Accident Scenes: Do You Always Offer Assistance? - page 2

by JW2011 11,208 Views | 82 Comments

Ok, so I have read what many have felt their obligation would be on the scene of an accident, but what would you do if you caused the accident, hitting a pedestrian, country road, EMS 10 minutes or more away, obvious head injury,... Read More


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    As a general rule, I do not stop at accidents if the first responders are already there. They have equipment, I don't. In a case like this, I would think you are obligated to stay since you caused the accident. You would have a moral and legal obligation to stay, but about the only thing you could do would be to stop any bleeding if you could.
    TeenyTinyBabyRN likes this.
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    Even if you caused the accident, why would you not offer aid until the EMS arrives? (Assuming you are clean and sober - if not, that's a whole new issue).

    Being an EMT and a nurse, I always, always, always stop to offer assistance unless I see an EMS crew onsite.
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    In my home state of PA, there is no duty to act in emergency situations for "physicians, nurses and health professionals." So legally, if you just continue on your way, you are in the clear. The moral issue is another question however. It's just not in my nature to ignore ignore this kind of thing and anyway, I have a lot of years as a first responder.

    As a result, I almost always stop, ask if 9-1-1 has been called (and do so if not), identify myself as an EMT rather than a nurse, and render appropriate assistance within the EMT scope until the EMS crews arrives. At that point, I'll give a brief report to the crew and turn things over to them. Most of my assistance has been very low key, making sure the victim doesn't unintentionally make their injury worse, e. g., keeping MVA victims calm and immobile. It's amazing to see how much you can help the situation by doing nothing more than asking a few questions and providing calm assurance that help is on the way.
    CountyRat, Esme12, and Elladora like this.
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    I agree with those who have posted that they do not stop to assist if EMS is on scene. When I see EMS working a scene, I do feel a strong desire to stop and "help." Just part of being a nurse, I guess. However, while my intentions in stopping may be good, my offer of help will only create a distraction; I will just be a nuisance, and they already have enough on their hands without the added problem of dealing with me.
    Altra likes this.
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    When I saw this post I was hoping the OP was not involved in the accident, I was hoping they would answer........As an ED nurse, a paramedic and a flight nurse......no further assistance is necessary if fire,police, and, EMS are present.

    If I come across an accident scene and EMS is present they don't need me. If I come across an accident I will call 911 and get EMS en route. I will stop...but for the most part there is nothing you can do....you can't extricate, you can't intubate. You can render first aid or CPR until EMS comes. You can't move them without proper immobilization but you can prevent them from being moved. Youcan keep them calm until the proper authorities arrives with the proper equipment to transport and move the patient.

    The "lawful" requirement to stop varies state to state....the ethical and moral reason to stop is without question.
    CountyRat likes this.
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    Quote from CountyRat
    I agree with those who have posted that they do not stop to assist if EMS is on scene. When I see EMS working a scene, I do feel a strong desire to stop and "help." Just part of being a nurse, I guess. However, while my intentions in stopping may be good, my offer of help will only create a distraction; I will just be a nuisance, and they already have enough on their hands without the added problem of dealing with me.
    Thanks for your feelings of wanting to stop & help. You are right, however, on being a potential distraction if you actually do stop at the scene.

    I ran EMS for 19 years, and encountered a number of "interesting" people. One of these folks claimed to be a paramedic from out of state. The incident commander on scene from 10+ years ago (not me, by the way!) allowed that person to apply a KED to the pt. The "paramedic" put it on upside-down. FAIL.

    I also had a person claiming to be physician show up on a full arrest scene. After he was able to provide evidence supporting his claim (physician license card in wallet), I allowed him to participate in pt care (pt had an unstable airway, and the doc tubed the pt for us). Being the non-trusting soul that I am, I also had the doc ride to the hospital with us (so he couldn't "treat & bail") in the back of the medic unit.

    Whether you'd be of value on a scene or not, it is almost certain that by showing up, you will distract the crews from performing needed pt care.

    If you really feel the draw of helping on EMS scenes, you might consider getting certified as an EMT or EMT-Paramedic. One of our local trauma center docs actually got certified as an EMT/Firefighter, and performed in that role as a volunteer.
    CountyRat, Esme12, and TeenyTinyBabyRN like this.
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    I am an EMT and the vast majority of the time anyone other than EMS personnel will be asked to leave anyway. You are not trained to safely package a patient for transport and in the case of a spinal cord injury (which is very plausible in a MVA) you run more risk of causing damage. Even as an EMT if EMS was not on scene I cannot do much. I witnessed an accident once. Not involved, but pt fell asleep at the wheel. Obviously, with them being right in front of me I was first on scene. Still, all I could do was take a brief history and hold c-spine on one of the two patients until help arrived.Without a second pair of hands you are pretty useless even as an EMT.
    CountyRat likes this.
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    Personaly I would stop, call 911 and do what ever is critically necessary (airway, bleeding etc). I think that it is a moral responsibiity.

    I live in a small town and it may a little bit before EMS arrives. Once they are there, if needed I will assist, if not, I'm on my way. I have a great professional relationship with local FD and they know/respect my abilities, as I do theirs.

    Not gonna get into a debate re EMT being more qualified...if I am the only one there I am the MOST qualified, until EMS arrives. If am involved, I am certainly hanging around till the PD arrives.
    Dalzac and JW2011 like this.
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    Quote from LCinTraining
    Still, all I could do was take a brief history and hold c-spine on one of the two patients until help arrived.
    As an EMT, I appreciate that brief history and even more so someone that knows how to properly hold a c-spine and does so.
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    If I'm to render assistance, I clearly know it as the situation arises. In these cases, there's an undeniable "pull" that brings me to the scene. The times I didn't feel that "pull" I hung around and was useless, even getting in the way of others. I have been to many scenes, some gruesome. The times that "pull" was clear as the day, my services were necessary without a doubt or second guess. I guess one could say it's not for "me" to decide, but go where I am clearly "pulled."


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