GRANTSVILLE — Accidents on rural highways account for 59 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities, according to a recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2004, 589 motor vehicle collisions occurred in Garrett County, resulting in 12 fatalities. These high numbers may have prompted the development of a new program known as Bystander Care.

Bystander Care aims to train those who arrive on the scene of an accident before emergency medical services and rescue crews get there. It is primarily designed for employees of trucking companies, security companies, courier services and other workers who are frequently on the road.

Topics covered during this free, three-hour course will include stopping safely, securing the scene, calling 911, assessing victims, and assisting and controlling victims’ breathing. These simple tasks can make the difference between life and death for those injured in a collision.

Learning how to deal with a motor vehicle collision properly is especially important in a rural area. It can take longer to report an accident, as cell phone coverage can be less than ideal and there are fewer pay phones. Poor conditions and fewer highways can slow down EMS crews. It can take up to an hour to transport patients to hospitals that are properly equipped to treat their injuries.

Bystander Care is administered by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems and funded by the Maryland Highway Safety Office. For more information, call Al Ward at the MIEMSS Region I office at (301) 895-5934, or e-mail award@MIEMSS.org.

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