"There's some common sense things people can do," says Arthur Hsieh, a paramedic and the chief executive officer of the San Francisco Paramedic Association. First, says Hsieh, citizens should make sure the area is safe to approach the person who's been hit.
"Many people will stop their own cars or people will wave down traffic," says Hsieh. "But if there's a lot of traffic in the roadway there's absolutely no expectation for someone to risk their own life to rescue someone else."
Ambulance drivers follow the same tenant, and often block the scene of an accident with their vehicles. "If you look at the way we park ambulances — we use them as shields," says Hsieh.
Once cars do stop — which at least one lane of traffic did in the Connecticut surveillance video — Hsieh says people should follow a few basic rules: Call 911, do not move the person and do not give the person anything to eat or drink because vomit can interfere with later medical treatment.
"Only move someone if it's necessary, for example if someone's in the car, and the car is on fire," says Hsieh. Moving someone with a spine injury could cause even more damage.
If someone starts looking pale, breathing quickly, sweating, shaking or shivering, Hsieh says the person should be covered with a jacket or a blanket to keep the victim from going into shock. Even simple steps like these can help tremendously, says Hsieh, who adds most people can learn crucial medical response and CPR information in a day or half-day course.
"When the public is involved in severe cases, it's really the public that makes a difference in saving a life," says Hsieh.