Introduction: This project examined the use of first aid by bystanders at road traffic crashes (RTC) and was undertaken in the context of increasing average ambulance response times to RTC throughout Australia and the potential impact of early first aid intervention on the mortality and morbidity associated with RTC. The aim of this project was to acquire knowledge about the prevalence of first aid training; the incidence of being a bystander and of providing first aid; the range of first aid skills being utilized; the motivation to intervene; and, the perceived impact of first aid training.
Methods: An Internet-based survey was distributed to a potential population of 12,500 road users and a total of 773 responded. Descriptive and comparative statistical analysis of quantitative data and thematic analysis of qualitative data were completed.
Results: Seventy-seven percent (77%) of participants had first aid training at some stage in their lives; 28% held a current first aid certificate; 11% had provided first aid at RTC; 75.3% who had provided first aid were travelling in a vehicle. Having first aid training increased the likelihood of intervention and of owning a first aid kit or pocket mask.
Conclusions: First aid training, even if it is not current, is an enabler for providing first aid at RTCs. The first aid skills most commonly used were changing posture, opening an airway, and providing comfort and reassurance. Key concerns for first aiders included a feeling of a lack of follow-up, and lack of an opportunity to debrief. Strategies to increase first aid training, to improve information and support, and to increase the knowledge of first aider’s are discussed.
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