While out on the road, you see a motorcycle accident. What should you do and how can you help? We talked to the Orange County, California Fire Authority to find out.
Photo: Wes was first-on-scene to this lane splitting accident. He stopped traffic, shut down the bike and made sure the rider was safe and stable (and the car drivers didn't leave) until police and fire services showed up.
1. Call 911. You’d be surprised how often this is forgotten or delayed. Do it right away, every minute counts when someone’s life is at risk. Report the exact location of the incident and basic details of what has happened.
2. Do not attempt to remove helmets. According to Captain Jon Muir of the Orange County Fire Authority, you stand a chance of doing more damage if you try and remove a rider’s helmet.
“Do not ever remove a crash helmet,” he says. “There could be vertebrae fractures or something even worse. Our own paramedic teams will leave a helmet on a rider until they have been taken to the trauma center to be checked out.”
3. Make the area as safe as possible. Other traffic or similar hazards could pose further risk to both the accident victim and yourself. This may require asking passersby and other road users to act as look-outs or signalers and help with directing traffic.
“This is so important,” says Muir. “There have been several incidents where people have been hurt tyring to help a motorcyclist simply because they area has not been made safe. Make sure you are safe before offering any First Aid or other assistance.”
Only then should you return to the injured person. But, on no account, should you attempt to move them until the EMTs arrive.
4. If you’re trained to do so, provide CPR and/or First Aid.
“If you have had proper training, you should check on whether the injured person is breathing, as they may have gone into traumatic arrest and their heart has stopped. This happens more frequently to people involved in motorcycle accidents,” says Muir.
“Potentially, a person in that condition has around six minutes to live before they suffer irreversible brain damage or, perhaps, die,” continues Muir. “But, with First Aid and CPR skills, you can help maintain the blood flow around the body and reduce some of the risk until emergency services arrive.”
“We encourage everyone to attend a basic CPR and First Aid class, you never know when you are going to need it. Most people don’t do this, but we can’t stress how important it is if you ever find yourself in a situation such as being the first on the scene of a motorcycle incident. Most large cities organize CPR and First Aid classes for residents and there are other organizations like the American Red Cross who offer a wide range of classes. “
Muir also recommends carrying a First Aid kit and warning triangles in your vehicle. “You can find a small kit at most drug stores that is suitable for being carried on a motorcycle,” he says.
For further information about First Aid and CPR classes in your area, visit the American Red Cross website. Classes start at $70.