Emergency Roadside Extraction, Treatment and Evacuation of Crash Casualties

Years ago, in professional circles, we used to talk about “The Three E’s” of road (or highway) safety, and these were:

  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Enforcement

The belief was if one taught people adequate and accurate information — including high-quality driving lessons — about staying safe on the roads, and the engineers designed and built safer roads and vehicles, and the police enforced the laws to make people drive to better standards, then safety would be maximized.

Photograph of the scene of a fatal road crash in the USA.
A fatal road traffic crash (not “accident”) which I came across by chance on my travels in the USA. The tragic purpose of the yellow sheet on the ground is self-evident.  Copyright image.

This is still true, and these three features are still as valid today as they ever were, but it has rightly long been recognized that there are more than just these three features.  Some people still debate about what the other E’s should include but there can be no doubt whatsoever that the following two must be included:

  • Emergency
  • Evaluation

The “Emergency” represents a long description which can be summed up as crash-site extraction (by rescue teams), immediate emergency medical treatment, and rapid evacuation of casualties to get them to a suitable hospital within the crucial period known as the “golden hour” — something that is no mean achievement.

Astonishingly, some people to this day argue that if a crash has already happened, these actions are nothing to do with road safety, as such, and only have a bearing on medical issues.  Put bluntly, I would suggest this is a very short-sighted view (because it directly affects the number or road-crash deaths) and their argument certainly goes against the collective professional conclusion.

The fifth E — “Evaluation” — is equally critical.  It mandates that all road safety interventions should be subject to expert independent evaluation to ensure that the techniques used by any road safety organization must be shown to be the most effective techniques and not just what people believe to be the best (without any acceptable proof to that effect).  It has been shown, time-and-time-again, that there is no room in highway safety for unsubstantiated opinions, primarily because they often do at least as much harm as good.

The catalyst for this post was an interesting article about two Cambridge doctors who back in 1971 were pioneers for Britain’s now truly excellent roadside medical teams and air ambulance services.


Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at: http://www.advanceddrivers.com/ceochief-instructors-resumecvbio/

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