Street Savvy - Motorcycling Emergency-Care Tips

By Tom Batchelor, Photography by Tom Batchelor

Motorcycling can be dangerous. Over time and with proper training, we tend to get better at the safe and skillful operation of our beloved machines. Trouble is, crashes happen for a variety of reasons. If your buddy goes down on a group ride, do you know what to do and not to do?

It all starts with preparation. What you do as the first responder can make or break your buddy's future.

DO: Call 911 fast! If you or someone in your group has medical training to properly evaluate your fallen brother or sister, that's great, but call anyway. Don't assume your buddy is OK just because he says he is. Believe me, EMTs and paramedics have no problem evaluating a patient and releasing him if he is uninjured.

DO: Remember your ABCs: A=Airway, B=Breathing, C=Circulation. If your buddy is talking, he or she is obviously breathing. If your buddy is not talking, then you need to check his ABCs. This is simple: Look and listen for breathing. If he's not breathing you have no choice but to remove his helmet and breathe for him. No pulse? That's worse. This is why you and everyone you ride with should know CPR and basic first aid.

DON'T: Remove your buddy's helmet unless you absolutely have to. Excessive head and neck movement could make things a lot worse. Firefighters and paramedics receive special training on how to properly remove any helmet, so if you can, leave helmet extrication to the professionals.

DON'T: Move the victim unless absolutely necessary, especially if you see major helmet damage-this suggests possible spinal injury. Hold the victim's head still and encourage him to remain motionless, then wait for the cavalry. Improper movement of a spinal-injury victim can lead to permanent damage, including paralysis or even death.

DO: Carry a first-aid kit. A couple of ban-dages, dressings, ACE wraps, Band-Aid-type products and some protective gloves (for your use) are better than nothing.

DO: Control bleeding. Severe uncontrolled bleeding leads to shock and, eventually, death. Do this by applying direct pressure to the wound. Forget what you see in the movies about using a tourniquet-it can cause major damage.

DO: Take a CPR course. If you can, take a first-aid or advanced first-aid course, too. Want to be an EMT? Your local Fire Rescue or Emergency Medical Service can not only help you find these courses, but perhaps also teach your riding group some valuable emergency-care tips.

DON'T: Forget to take care of each other. Know your buddies' health issues. Having a plan in case someone gets hurt is the best and smartest start to any group-riding activity.

By Tom Batchelor
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