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Leaving the scene of an accident with no victims

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  • Leaving the scene of an accident with no victims

    Two times in the last month we've responded to crashes in my POC department where the driver/passenger were no longer on scene. One was a single car into a tree with a few open containers of booze, the driver's door was open. The belt still has slack, so we assume it wasn't on. The second was a two car crash and it seemed as if three people were wearing set belts; driver and front passenger in one, driver in the other; because the three seat belts had the tension tightened.

    For both crashes, police asked us to help search the areas with our TIs since they didn't encounter blood trails. On the first crash we spent 30 minutes looking, didn't find anyone and went available. On the second crash we spent an hour searching the surrounding areas and then the chief told us to get in service. The police asked us to stay until the victims were located, but the chief was confident we were in the clear. An heated discussion ensued between police and fire command and we stayed on scene for another hour to no a vail and we returned.

    These crashes don't happen often, but how can we inform police we're there for victims/clean up, not searching for runaways with out it becomes us versus them.

  • #2
    What happens if one of your guys comes across a drunk cowering in a thicket of trees (or wherever and becomes violent?

    If I am the Chief I am telling the cops straight out- "Not my problem. Batteries in the car have been secured, there are no fuel leaks, if you find them and they are injured, call EMS. see ya."
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    • #3
      We often get called for "property damage with fluids leaking and airbag deployment."

      If the occupant(s) insist they are not injured, then it's "no patient found" for EMS and they're out of there.

      Fire often sticks around to assist with traffic control and clean-up. That's why we carry "speedidry." If the cop can handle what's left, we'll check with them and leave. Depends a lot on the location.

      I've been through that thicket thing - drunk was walking down the middle of the road and got clipped by the mirror of a passing car. By the time we got there, he'd walked a quarter mile or so down the road and collapsed in a thicket. I saw him headed away from the road, into some brush. We went looking for him, but because he was down, in the thicket, nobody saw him, and they kept searching beyond that point. I was behind and just happened to hear him moan. Helped EMS get him packaged. Had we figured he'd found another ride or something, it's hard to say what the outcome would have been. They coyotes might have found his remains...

      We've had several other incidents were vehicles themselves were well off the road into the brush, and not visible from the road. Skid marks, yes, car, no.

      It's kind of a truism if it's oh-dark-thirty and you have a vehicle incident with no one around, someone is around...
      Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

      Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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      • #4
        We look around and under for ejections, then clear. The cops can sit there just as long as they like.

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        • #5
          I think the IC has to make the call based on conditions encountered. Police have their role and we have ours. As the IC, if we have made a diligent search for "victims" and come up negative I'm OK with calling off further search. Some people don't want to be found. Some people walk away or find another way to leave the scene. I've been to a scene where the father left his family behind to be transported because he didn't want to deal with police.
          In the OP's first scenario I think the booze bottles tell a good part of the story. Likely no serious injuries and occupants were more suspects than victims.

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          • #6
            Clearly your role may determine your level of interest. As a Fire & EMS dept. we evaluate the condition of the vehicle, the likelihood of serious injuries and assist with a reasonably small area search in, under and around (this is the part that's subjective). If there is serious damage and an anticipation of serious injuries we may stick around a bit, if not, we clear as soon as possible.

            If your the EMS providers as well and your response time back may be long, then maybe you stick around longer? Like so much of what we do, these things are fluid and depend on a host of variables. Applying a single rule or policy will result in a bad outcome someday vs. teaching crews to do the right thing on every call based on the situation found.

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