GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - We've told you about the Good Samaritans who stepped forward to offer help in the moments following the train crash. Most citizens would likely do the same. But emergency medical professionals have some advice.
"You do want to call 911 almost immediately. You want to make sure that they're on their way. And stay calm. By staying calm you can retain a lot of the information that is necessary when medical personnel arrive," said Dr. Simal Patel, an ER physician at Garden Park Medical Center in Gulfport.
Each accident scene presents its own challenges. The first priority should be to keep the victims from any further harm. As a general rule, do not attempt to move an injured person.
"You don't want to move the patient or start to ambulate the patient. Because a lot of times the patient may have extensive damage that you just may not be able to see," says Dr. Patel.
Veteran first responder James Carver said there are exceptions to not moving a victim.
"You know, if a car is on fire, obviously you've got to get them out if you have the opportunity to pull them out of there. But other than that, you don't really want to move patients around too much," said Carver, who's worked accident scenes for nearly 20 years.
If you're a person who might be hesitant to offer first aid at a crash site because of a fear of getting sued later, keep in mind that Mississippi has a Good Samaritan law. Essentially, it says if you in good faith and using reasonable care offer medical help to someone at a crash site, you can't be held legally liable for damages in a civil lawsuit.
Rendering aid to accident victims doesn't always mean medical intervention. Often, words of comfort at a scene are much appreciated by victims.
"Comforting the patient and keeping the scene calm as possible is a great factor. It keeps the patient from moving and it keeps their mind away from the situation," said Dr. Patel.
Again, the first action to take, when you come upon any accident scene, is to call 911. If a person is unconscious, and you know CPR, you should perform that life-saving technique until first responders arrive.