Emergency physician William Paolo, MD explains what to do if you find yourself in a car wreck. If you answer yes to these questions, call 911 for an ambulance.
1. Did your airbags deploy? If the impact was strong enough to deploy airbags, it may have caused injury, as well. You may notice a chemical-smelling white powder from the airbag, but it’s not dangerous unless it gets into your eyes.
2. Was there what’s known as “intrusion?” Did the car and the cabin around you collapse into you? Would you need help getting out of the car?
3. Did you lose consciousness? Do you remember the wreck?
4. Did you wear your seatbelt? “If you didn’t wear your seatbelt and you find yourself outside of your car, then you want to see an ambulance provider right away,” Paolo says.
5. Are you in pain? Even what seem to be minor wrecks can cause injury, so pay attention to your body.
If you are transporting a child in a car seat, keep him or her in the car seat. Paramedics will likely bring him or her to the hospital that way.
Paolo says most importantly: Stay in your car unless it is on fire or about to be on fire, which would be exceedingly rare.
“We don’t want you up and moving around if we don’t know what your injuries are,” he says. “We worry that you may have injured something that may get worse by moving around.”
Not only that, but if you get out of your car, you are liable to be injured by other vehicles.