Being in an accident is a stressful time for those involved. It can also be stressful for witnesses. Many don’t know what action to take when they see crushed metal or an injured person and freeze or do something that may make matters worse. Being a bystander and going in without a sense of plan are equally dangerous moves so here are some tips to help you stay calm and be the most assistance to those in crisis.

When you drive up to the scene of the crash, take a pause and think about keeping the scene protected from further crashes. Get your car safely out of the way so it doesn’t create a separate crash. Put your hazard lights on to alert oncoming drivers. Next get on the phone to 911. It’s better to have 3 calls for an ambulance than none. Then turn off the engines of the vehicles involved to reduce the risk of fire.

Your first notion might be to jump in and pull the victims from their vehicles, but experts warn against that. Unless there is some danger like a fire you could do more harm to an injured person by dragging them away. Leave it to the professionals, one wrong move by a bystander and a broken back could turn into permanent damage. If you can’t be of immediate service (i.e. first aid) to the injured, then direct traffic. Keeping the area clear is very important so rubberneckers and other vehicles don’t cause more problems once emergency officials arrive.

If there is a fire, most experts agree moving the victim even if it might do more damage is the smart thing to do. And there are times where first aid is needed and can helpful. We will discuss some of the little things you can do to help the victims of a crash in part two of our report.