SHERIDAN — Driving through Wyoming provides an opportunity to take in some great views of nature and escape from the daily traffic of a city.
While driving across the state, accidents do happen. When involved with an automotive accident while in Wyoming, the key is to get into contact with the nearest law enforcement, said Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Erik Jorgensen.
If there is an injury — known or unknown— or a road obstruction, a person should call 911, Jorgensen said. By contacting 911, the dispatcher can send out an ambulance, law enforcement and tow trucks to help with the situation as soon as possible.
In situations where there is not an emergency, those attempting to report the accident can contact the local dispatch to have the needed assistance sent out. For the Sheridan area, this would be the Sheridan Police Department at 307-672-2413. Call highway patrol dispatch at 1-800-442-9090, or the state office at 307-777-4031 can help connect you. Both numbers are easily found with a simple Google search. It is also suggested the 800 number be added into the phone to have.
It is important to contact law enforcement as soon as possible because it allows the correct response teams to be dispatched in a timely manner. Wyoming is a rural state and the distances between towns create longer response times. Jorgensen said it could take a town truck a few hours to reach the location of the vehicle.
Cellphone signals can be sparse in some areas. If there is no cellphone signal then those trying to report an accident have two options: Move to a location with cell service or ask someone who is passing by to report the accident when they have cellphone service again.
Jorgensen said key information to have when reporting an accident is the license plate, health of those involved, location of the accident and if there are any road obstructions.
While waiting for help it is important for those involved to stay warm and not wander.
Individuals moving away from the vehicle can become lost and are at a high risk for hyperthermia during the winter months.
Jorgensen said keeping blankets, water and snacks in a vehicle is always a good idea. He keeps jerky and granola bars in his vehicle.
If the vehicle is still operable, using the heater is an option, Jorgensen said. Staying alert while running the vehicle is important. If fluids are leaking, those in the vehicle need to understand the engine could overheat without antifreeze or damage could occur because of poor lubrication due to an oil leak. Gasoline is flammable and sparks from the engine could start a fire. Using the five senses can help alert a person of potential danger.
Jorgensen said part of the reason why many people decide to live in Wyoming is the friendliness of the people. More than likely, other travelers will stop to lend a hand. Again, common sense and trusting your judgment is important. If it feels like an unsafe situation, then it probably is.
Jorgensen said if you leave a vehicle on the side of the road because you received a ride back into town, it is important to contact law enforcement as soon as possible.
Establishing communication with law enforcement and using common sense will go a long way in making sure a person handles a situation correctly.