Collaboration is key to improving post-crash response and increasing victims’ survival
Every year, more than 1.3 million people around the world fall victim to road crashes. Lives are tragically lost, or changed forever, in an instant.
This is why the United Nations General Assembly aims to halve the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2030. An ambitious goal by any count butwhat needs changing for this to happen?
One vital element that influences the outcomes of road crashes is the amount of coordination and collaboration between first responders, according to speakers at a recent ADB webinar on post-crash response. With the right actions and plan in place, they also have the ability to prevent victims’ injuries from becoming life-changing.
“Multi-disciplinary action should be part of our approach to solving and achieving road safety,” remarked Benjamin Coghlan, a Senior Health Specialist at the ADB. However, in this area, many countries suffer from a “history of siloed working”, said Emma MacLennan, Founder and Director of the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST).
Often, emergency response agencies follow a “military” model, where they treat data as if they are “a matter of national security”, and do not readily share these with their healthcare counterparts. “That needs to be broken down; that silo mentality and military structure, which doesn’t allow sharing and coordination,” MacLennan asserted.
How the UK made data collaboration a priority
The UK government has formed the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Protocol, or JESIP, a programme that unites different emergency services in one room, to train together and co-develop response protocols, MacLennan said.
“To assess each incident jointly, and to find solutions together — that doesn’t cost money, it’s just a matter of coordination, and it makes a world of difference,” she continued. “Training and getting people to coordinate, to share, to discuss, is number one.”
Based off of EASST’s work with countries such as Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Lebanon, the charity has produced a post-crash toolkit that features global best practices and forms a “starting point for dialogue”. The toolkit covers various aspects, such as managing crash scenes safely; basics of emergency medical care and triage; rehabilitation and victim support; and more.
What constitutes an effective post-crash response?
Firstly, bystanders at the scene must be able to communicate with the emergency services. This should happen through a single national number that everyone knows, according to the toolkit.
Next, the dispatcher must be able to identify and mobilize the services needed and instruct callers on what to do while waiting. Here, it helps to have trained experts provide remote support.
Emergency services must be able to reach victims quickly, and work together following agreed protocols. One service should manage the entire scene, avoiding any competition between rescuers.
The other responders can then identify victims needing most urgent care, and carry out extrication, prevent fires, or safely transport victims. If possible, all emergency services should be trained to provide basic first aid. Finally, communication is vital: sending photos ahead helps to alert hospitals that victims are on their way.
Small improvements make a big difference in Ukraine
In Ukraine, one of EASST’s member countries, a relatively simple procedure learned from the UK turned out to make a huge difference. Emergency responders from the fire department learned to park their appliances just before an accident site, creating a barrier that stopped oncoming vehicles from driving into it, explained EASST’s MacLennan.
“While the police are trying to cordon off and arrange traffic safely around the incident, the fire appliances parked there helped prevent other vehicles coming in and hitting the crash scene,” MacLennan said. “We had a lot of feedback from the Ukrainian fire and emergency services about how that was invaluable,” she concluded.
Every road crash is unique, and responders must work together like a well-oiled machine, able to cope with any situation. This means better cooperation, communication, coordination, and shared priorities. With hard work and some luck, the goal to halve road deaths can be within reach. — Nurfilzah Rohaidi