Don't be a Hero
It happened right in front of a hospital. A car hit a utility pole and the pole fell on the car. The guy who saw it happen, a trained first responder, ran into the ER for help. They called the police and rescue â€¦ then, everyone sat around looking at the car under the utility pole for what seemed an agonizingly long time until the power company came and assured everyone that there was no danger of electrocution.
First responders will take the most prudent track and wait until they can be assured that an accident doesnâ€™t take on even more tragic proportions with a would-be lifesaver losing his or her life. Bottom line: donâ€™t attempt a rescue until assurances of safety for the rescuers are given.
The man in the car survived his incident with no major injuries â€” but itâ€™s doubtful he would have survived a major trauma to an artery while everybody waited. Tough choices are made every day by first responders. But self-protection is the right choice. Responders will make the situation worse if they are injured or get killed.
Who is a first responder?In the context of a workplace accident, the â€œfirst responderâ€ is often simply the first person on the scene, regardless of training. It may be an emergency medical technician, or someone with a first-aid card who will do the best he or she can until professional assistance arrives. Letâ€™s look at the precautions employees should take to protect their own safety should they be first on the scene responding to a workplace incident or injury.
Note: This information does not and should not replace your existing workplace safety procedures or policies.
Tip 1: First aidIf you are a designated first-aid provider or are pressed into service to administer first aid, you may become exposed to bloodborne pathogens. To protect yourself:
Tip 2: Chemical exposureAll chemical exposures, no matter how small or brief, should be considered serious incidents until the hazard is assessed. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is vital for the responderâ€™s own protection. Never approach an accident involving chemicals without PPE. Before you work around chemicals, make sure you are familiar with the types of PPE available in your work area and what PPE should be used for specific types of chemicals.
Before responding to an exposure:
If you are exposed to a chemical:
Tip 3: Confined space rescueStatistics compiled by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) show that 60 percent of confined space injuries are sustained by the rescuer. In too many cases, the would-be rescuer, often the confined space attendant, was not trained or equipped to enter the space for rescue. Would-be rescuers should:
Tip 4: Electrical hazardContact with electrical energy is a major concern when trying to help an injured person near energized power lines or equipment. Make sure the person you are helping is not in contact with electrical energy sources, or else you will be the next victim.
Tip 5: Hazardous materialsHere are some precautions to follow if you are involved in an incident involving hazardous materials:
Tip 6: First responder starter kitMake sure the following items are quickly accessible for your own safety when responding to an emergency: