What is the very first thing you should do when you arrive at an incident scene?

Road traffic accidentAs a first aider, the very first thing you should do upon arriving at an incident scene is to check for any hazards to yourself or bystanders. A hazard is anything with the potential to cause harm. 

This can seem like a slightly odd thing to do first, surely your first priority should be to provide first aid and help your casualty? Whilst this seems common sense, it is actually the wrong thing to do.

Your safety is the absolute first priority in any emergency situation. The reason for this is simple, you can’t provide help if you become a victim yourself! In addition, if you become injured then you may delay help in getting to the original casualty (ie, you make the situation worse). 

It is important for first aiders and first responders to check for any hazards and deal with these when they arrive at an incident scene. For example, arriving at the scene of a road traffic collision you might:

  • Park safely
  • Ensure your hazard lights and headlights are on
  • Ensure your handbrake is on
  • Wear hi-vizability clothing
  • Contact the police or traffic officers

These are simple steps but could prevent the situation from becoming much worse. 

If you feel the incident is too dangerous to approach then the best thing to do is keep clear and call for help from the appropriate emergency services. 


John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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