donderdag 6 november 2014

Airbags, life saving or dangerous?

There are not many cars left out on the road which are not equipped with airbags.  Airbags are a great invention which can prevent serious injuries to casualties.  However an activated airbag can be extremely dangerous, when passengers are not sitting correctly in their passenger seats.


This is when we received a call out to an injury-accident on the motorway. Several cars were involved. Having arrived at the scene of the accident we found two cars were involved, one of them turned on its side with wreckage at the back which once was a caravan. The contents of the caravan were spread across various lanes of the motorway, causing total chaos. We found one casualty in the car that was turned on its side. It was a female, and I took care of her.  Her husband is standing by, looking helpless and my colleague looked after him. The woman appears to have sustained serious injuries and required urgent medical attention. I called out the ambulance and fire brigade, explaining the urgency, and tried to keep the female conscious. All airbags in the car had been activated. This should have been favourable for the woman, who is still strapped in her seat belt.  However, the woman’s foot is shattered and burned.  Her leg is laying in a very strange position, which is hard to understand. 

Even the paramedics and the mobile crash team, who had landed their helicopter in the middle of the motorway, could initially not understand. How so much injury could have been sustained in such a relatively minor accident. The paramedics asked my colleague to ask the man, in which position the woman was travelling in her passenger seat , just prior to impact. Then it became apparent that she had been sitting in a slouched position with her right foot resting on the dashboard. On the middle of the bridge her husband suddenly had to break because of slowing traffic in front.  It appeared later, the caravan had such a heavy load which resulted in the man being unable to stop his vehicle on time and smashed into the car in front. This explained the serious injury to the woman. Because of the sudden breaking, the woman was not able to sit up properly, as she was slouched and had her foot resting on the dashboard. The dashboard airbag was active on impact. The woman’s foot became trapped between the dashboard and the car roof, because of the inflated dashboard airbag. Additionally the activated airbag generates a lot of heat which caused the burns to the woman’s foot and leg. She also sustained a serious hip fracture, caused by her leg being wrenched up. She was freed from the wreckage by the fire crew and taken to hospital urgently.
Shortly afterwards I was again reminded of the power of an airbag. In the village of “X”, a driver smashed into the car in front. His dog is sitting on the passenger seat and his head got smashed between the dashboard and the front windscreen. The airbag got activated on impact and the dog’s head got stuck between the airbag and car roof. The dog died on impact.

Since having witnessed these accidents I get the shivers when I see people “relaxing” their feet on the dashboard, or even worse, when they travel with a child on their lap. I tend to stop these cars which often results in a baffled look on their faces and unable to understand why they have been stopped by police.  When I point out the dangers of feet on dashboard, or child on lap, you can see them shudder at the thought.

I am convinced that readers of this blog will think about it twice before putting their feet on the dashboard, or travelling with a child on their lap on the front seat.

(translated by Irma Gasson, UK)

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