Stopping for an accident...


Just wondering if any of you have stopped to help out (while in nursing school) after seeing an accident on the road.

Do you think police/fire/etc. would just tell me to leave if I approached?

Aneroo, LPN

1 Article; 1,518 Posts

Specializes in Cath Lab, OR, CPHN/SN, ER.

Depends on how many people are there already and the situation.

Normal population and you're one of the first there (no EMS yet)- yes, I would. I did it before I got my EMT cert. back in the day.

If you're by yourself and it's a quiet place (someone ran off the road)- NO. Personal safety first, always!!!

If fire/ems is already there, no I don't stop. If they needed help, chances are they're already calling for it and it's on the way.

ETA- Just always to remember to stay within your scope. Even as a nurse, on scene, there isn't a lot I can/should do, since the advanced stuff would need a MD order and I obviously wouldn't have that in the field.

rn/writer, RN

17 Articles; 4,168 Posts

I was an EMT for many years and have now been a nurse for a while.

If police/fire/EMS are on scene, do not stop. They don't need the traffic hazard created by another car and an unauthorized pedestrian. As Aneroo stated, any additional help they need (paramedic intercept, medevac chopper, etc.) they can send for.

You, as a nursing student or even a newish nurse, would have little to offer at the scene of a crash other than keeping the airway open, which the most rookie EMT can also do.

Even after years of being a nurse, unless you work critical care or ED, there isn't much you could do except get in the way.

There are two exceptions where you might consider stopping, but again, your safety comes first.

The first exception is if you come upon an accident that has just occurred and there are no official responders yet. Check for downed wires, leaking fluids, and other hazards. Be aware that some cars have side-curtain airbags that may not have deployed yet. EMS folks have been injured by these and also by the steering wheel airbags if they did not go off on impact.

Also, be aware of your surroundings. Are you a lone female on a dark stretch of road? Don't put yourself in harm's way, or you can complicate the accident scene, not to mention your own life.

The most helpful thing you can do is call 911 and give as good a description as you can of the area.

If the scene is safe enough for you to approach the other vehicle, tell the occupants to stay in the car and keep as still as possible. Let them know help is on the way.

With an unconscious patient, see if their airway is occluded. You always have to be concerned about a C-spine injury but if the airway is blocked because of a flexed neck, they're dead unless they can breathe. Move them as little as possible while trying to open that airway.

You might want to take a basic first aid course, mainly so you'll know what NOT to do as well as some simple measures you can take.

As a student, your adrenaline will be pumping, but please limit yourself to simple things like calling 911 and asking injured folks to stay put till help arrives.

When EMS arrives, report off to someone (get a name if you can, and they may want yours) and get yourself and your vehicle out of the way.

I admire your desire to help. Just make sure that what you have to offer really is helpful.


164 Posts

Specializes in Obstetrics.

I'm glad you asked this question because I too had the same question. I live on a main street and seeing accidents and fires happen often because of this. Several times myself I've had to call 911, so thanks because I was wondering what to do for basically outside of my house! As well as the road.

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