Being A Good Samaritan And Witness
Driving on the highways and streets of Phoenix or any metropolitan area can be a stressful experience. People are always in a hurry and often take unnecessary risks in hopes of shaving off a few minutes of travel time. How many times have you been passed by a vehicle that was weaving in and out of traffic, just to pull up along side him at the next stop light. He takes off again, driving like a mad man, and again, you pull up beside time at the next light. He didn't save any time, but put the public at great risk. Remember that the next time you are in a hurry and think you have to risk your safety and that of others. It's not worth it.
If you drive long enough in the Phoenix area, you're bound to come upon an accident or actually witness one. What should you do and how can you keep yourself safe?
For most people, they want to run up to the collision scene and start helping. For others, they will just look the other way and drive on by. I never could understand these people and I don't know how they sleep at night.
For those of us who want to help, here are a few things we should do upon arriving at the scene:
1. First and foremost...Call 911! Take a second to look around and figure your exact location. Take a deep breath and talk clearly and slowly to the dispatcher. Nothing is more frustrating to a first responder than being sent to the wrong location.
2. When parking your car, turn on the hazard lights and make sure it is in a safe location. You don't want to become involved in a collision yourself. It will ruin your day.
3. Before exiting your vehicle, assess the scene. Are there electrical lines down; is gasoline spilling from one of the damaged vehicles; did a vehicle hit a telephone pole and could it fall. There are hundreds of possible dangers out there. If it's too dangerous to exit your car, don't! Wait for the first responders to arrive.
4. If you determine it is safe to exit your car, check on the occupants of the involved vehicles. Unless a vehicle is on fire or someone is in the middle of the road, or you are an EMT, nurse or doctor, don't touch any of the injured. But if someone suffered a serious injury, such as an amputation or deep laceration, you may have to administer some form of first aid to stop the bleeding. Tell them you called 911 and help is on the way. Stay with them and keep reassuring them that help is on the way.
5. After the police and fire department arrive, take a moment and gather your thoughts. If you have a pen or pencil, jot down a few notes.
Chances are, one of the police officers will hand you a Witness Form and ask you to write down what you saw and what you did. Don't worry about filling out this form perfectly. Don't worry about spelling or grammar. This form is there to jar your memory if you ever have to testify in court.
Yes...that's right. You may have to testify in court. There is no such thing as an accidental "accident", unless a deer jumps out in front of you or a tree falls on your car. Some form of a violation had to happen for this collision to have occurred. Maybe someone ran a stop light; or were driving too fast for conditions; or were driving while intoxicated. Your testimony can be a crucial part of the case.
When everything is over, take a moment and pat yourself on the back for doing a good job. There's not a better feeling in the world than knowing you helped another person who was in trouble. In fact, that's the reason most first responders do their jobs. It's a good feeling.