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Children, along with the elderly, cyclists, and motorcyclists, are amongst the most vulnerable road user group. According to data from the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), in 2020 a total of 3,692 children suffered injuries in road accidents, while 201 had to be hospitalised and 17 died.

As for the latter, between 30 and 50% of deaths occur within 5 minutes of the accident occurring, and the proportion increases to 75% after the first 60 minutes, according to the Spanish Alliance for Road Safety (AESVi).

To reduce the risks in the minutes immediately following an accident, the DGT has compiled a series of measures to follow in case, unfortunately, we witness a traffic accident in which children are involved.

How should you act?

The golden rule to assist any person, whether a child or not, is to follow the PAS (Protect, Warn and Help) protocol. As the name suggests, the first thing is to protect the accident area to avoid taking additional risks, including placing warning triangles or the V-16 light signal. All this, always whilst wearing the reflective vest if you leave a vehicle. Afterwards, the norm dictates you notify the emergency services on 112 so that they will attend. Finally, help potential victims.

If the witnessed accident takes place while you are driving a vehicle, it should be parked in a safe place and, if the situation requires it, with the hazard lights activated.

When helping victims, it is essential to bear in mind that trespassing on the road entails an added risk for the person providing the aid. In fact, on motorways it is expressly forbidden to walk or travel on the road. Therefore, it is recommended to do the minimum and essential, and always with the reflective vest. In any case, there should always be a person next to the child until the medics arrive.

In these situations, and even more so when children are involved, family members are often in shock, so it is advisable to remain calm as much as possible. An altered attitude can be detrimental to the health of the minor.

It is very important not to move the victim under any circumstances. As explained by the DGT, doing so “can cause injuries that affect the spine.” If there is bleeding, the wounds should be covered and pressed with the hand until the medics arrive at the scene. Also, it is advisable to lightly cover the child with a blanket so that they do not lose heat, but without overheating or making them sweat.

It is also important to remember that the child should not drink water, food, or medication, as this may cause vomiting or loss of consciousness.

After a serious accident, and if the minor was traveling in a child restraint system (CRS), it should be thrown away and replaced or checked by a specialist, since internal damage could have occurred, hidden from the naked eye.

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