Car Park Accidents - A Crash Course
Does your facility have an underground car park? Are you surrounded by car parks? Or is there a car parking facility within your site like at a university campus or hospital? If so, do your emergency response procedures contain response guidelines for a motor vehicle accident (MVA)? If not, why not?
A little known fact is that the most prolific place for vehicle accidents is not the highway, but the local car park; generally the local supermarket or shopping centre.
A motor vehicle accident on site or in close proximity to your facility may require the assistance or intervention of the Emergency Control Organisation. Whilst it is true that the majority of collisions are most likely to be minor, it does warrant some analysis in order to be capable of responding to the very minor to the very major vehicle accident. Minor preparations may include things such as spill-kits or sand conveniently located in or near the car park for containing oil or coolant spills. Witches hats are also useful for diverting traffic or cordoning off an area whilst the situation is resolved. Moving more towards the major impacts of an accident are considerations such as vehicles colliding with infrastructure, creating broken glass or structural damage and also vehicles damaging utility supplies and creating electrical hazards or gas leaks, or perhaps even a vehicle colliding with a pedestrian.
All of these situations are eminently possible and therefore do warrant inclusion into planning regimes and training conducted for those responsible for vehicle parking areas or loading bays. Education is the key to successful management of scenarios such as these because many a situation involving vehicle accidents mismanaged due to ‘Hollywood Syndrome’. Why is it the every time a vehicle is involved in a collision or accident of sorts in 'the movies' it explodes? We are not driving around in the equivalent of petrol bombs just waiting for the opportunity to blow up. The reason ‘Hollywood’ cars explode is all in the name of action, excitement and drama. The vehicles are specifically rigged to explode by visual effects specialists. Away from movie sets, there are literally hundreds of accidents a day throughout Australia and thousands, if not tens of thousands, of motor vehicle accidents around the world every day. Many of them at high speed or involving incredible impact and instances of vehicles exploding are rare. Yes it can happen, and it is usually the result of such a catastrophic impact that the car is literally torn apart causing the fuel tank to rupture and fuel to come in contact with an ignition source.
For the majority of the motoring public being involved in an accident, even one that is quite severe, will not result in the vehicle exploding. This is important because drivers and passengers suffer increased injury and trauma by the misguided attempts of spontaneous volunteers or good Samaritans who drag people from a vehicle after an accident thinking they are saving that injured person from an imminent explosion. In doing so, spinal injuries that may have required relatively minor treatment become more serious issues, possibly even leading to paraplegia. Low to medium speed motor vehicle accidents seldom result in the vehicles involved exploding upon impact or catching fire after a collision. If occupants are injured, it is best-practice to apply first aid to the occupants whilst they remain in the vehicle until the arrival of the Emergency Services. Only if a clear and present danger exists (Such as a fire or fire hazard) should injured parties be physically removed from the vehicle. If occupants remove themselves from the vehicle they should not be restrained, however advising them to restrict their movement or remain in the vehicle until assessed by Emergency Medical personnel is prudent.