Coming across a bike accident scene, especially a serious one, is
probably the one thing most bikers hope never to experience. Yet as
Think Bike members with an always-help-another-biker culture, we
rarely shy away from stopping and helping if we can.
When I recently stopped at an accident scene on the N1 just outside
Pretoria, I realised
that short of ensuring that the emergency services were called and
that nobody removed the injured rider’s helmet, I wasn’t really sure
what to do. This prompted me to seek expert advice, so that next
time (and I really hope there isn’t a “next time”) I will be better
prepared. I approached the friendly folks at ER24, one of the major
private emergency services, and asked them for advice.
The first thing they told me was that you should ensure your own
safety. When you arrive on the scene, make sure that you park in a
safe place, and keep a lookout for oncoming traffic – you won’t be
of much help to anybody if you are injured yourself. If warning
signs are available, put them out to warn other road users of the
dangers ahead. Remember to put them far enough away from the scene
to give road users enough advance warning.
the injured rider is lying in the roadway, it’s a good idea to ask
somebody else to park a car between the rider and the rest of the
traffic, and to turn the car’s hazard lights on. And if you’re a
bib or any other brightly coloured item of clothing, don’t take it
off – it will help make you more visible to other road users
Still, my Patient
try to move the injured biker, unless he is in immediate danger of
getting injured further by other road users. He might have suffered
injuries not visible to you, and moving him could aggravate those
injuries. If it is absolutely necessary, move the rider as a unit
and prevent his neck from moving independently from his body. This
should be done by four people – one person holding the neck and
head, one person grabbing his shoulders, one person grabbing pelvis
and one the legs. Move the rider on the count of the person holding
Truss ‘Em Up
fractured limbs to minimize movement that could cause more damage –
any hard straight object could be used as a splint. Alternatively,
just hold the fractured limb steady to minimize movement. Don’t try
to align a fracture – you could cause further damage and bleeding if
Room to Breathe
Try to support the neck so the rider can maintain an airway by
holding the neck and head aligned. Place the palms of your hands on
either side of the rider’s jaw with fingers towards the back of the
neck. If the rider is vomiting, turn him on his side to ensure that
he doesn’t choke, and open the helmet’s visor. Use the technique
discussed above to move the rider. Don’t remove his helmet
– helmets can only be removed by trained medical personnel. Also,
don’t remove any clothing unless it is causing strangulation.
Stop any excessive bleeding by putting direct pressure on the wound,
or by applying a pressure bandage. Blood loss can be dangerous – as
you probably know, a person who loses a lot of blood can die from
it, so treat it seriously.
Always insist that the injured rider be seen by a paramedic. An
accident victim may be able to stand up or walk around, but that
doesn’t mean he hasn’t suffered internal injuries that may escape
the untrained eye. Calm the rider down, and get him to sit or lie
down to prevent aggravation of the injuries.
On, Make the Call
Phone the emergency services immediately, or if you’re busy, ask
somebody else to do it – mere minutes can sometimes make the
difference between life and death.
When reporting the accident, make sure you know where you are.
Identify your location from landmarks, road signs and intersections,
and give the operator this information to ensure that paramedics get
to you quickly. Then, reassure the injured person that help is on
can phone 112 free of charge, irrespective of your cellular network,
and they will transfer your call to the appropriate emergency
Also keep the following additional emergency numbers handy – you
never know when you may need them:
National Emergency Number: 10177
Netcare 911: 082 911
You may not want to be in the situation, but
if you are and you know what to do, you can make a big difference.
So if you’re among the first people to arrive at a bike accident
scene, stay calm and remember these tips – you might just save