Accident Scene Management
As motorcycle riders we are all aware of the inherent dangers and risks that we take when we mount our bikes and head out to enjoy a good ride. Yes, it is that part of our shared passion that many of us don’t want to think about. However, these dangers and risks become all too apparent when we are faced with situations when a fellow rider is involved in an accident. Whether you are riding alone or in a group and you find yourself in a situation where a rider has gone down, ask yourself honestly, do you know what to do? Well, I asked myself this very question recently and realized that no, I do not. Aside from being able to contact 911 or flag down someone who could, I realized beyond that there is little I know how to do to assist a fallen rider. So, I have gathered some information that helped point me in the right direction and felt it was information that could help a lot of people who may not know what to do if such a situation were to arise.
I would like to share some tips on how to avoid being a part of an accident and what to do should you happening upon one.
DO NOT BECOME A PART OF THE ACCIDENT:
If an accident does happen, DO NOT STOP!!!! , continue to ride past until everyone has gone through. Do not target fixate and add to the scene. This is very important for everyone to accomplish if there is one.
This basically applies to group rides when there is a train of riders behind you. Suddenly stopping to assist in an accident can cause riders behind you that are unaware of the accident to slam on there brakes or swerve to avoid you and possibly add to the accident.
If you are riding alone be aware of your surroundings and the traffic around you before pulling off to assist. You do not want get hit from behind because you slowed too quickly and the car behind you did not have time to react.
REMAIN CALM... THINK!
The first thing you need to do when arriving on an accident scene is to stop, take two deep breaths to help you remain calm.
The idea of psychological management is that all the other people who are pumped and want to help will do whatever they are told to do by a calm person who seems to be in control and knows what he or she is doing. If you're excited and out of control as well, everyone will run around wasting precious time in an unorganized fashion.
1) Get to victim, reassure, establish communication.
After a person has gone down, they will be in a confused and scared state. They probably don't know what happened when they went down. They may be confused, frantic, etc., and often the only thing on their mind will be their bike. It is important to reassure them and to make sure they will not try to move or get to their bike. Something on the order of, "You've been in a motorcycle accident. It is important that you do not try to move. My name is (whatever your name is). "Tell them the ambulance is coming (assuming someone has been sent to get one or has called for one!) If your name is something like "Chainsaw'' or "Mega-death'', tell them your name is John or Bob or Mike.
Be careful what you say around the victim, even if they are unconscious. Hearing works in the unconscious state and if you say something like, "Boy, is this dude messed up bad! Maybe we shouldn't call an ambulance after all!'', it's going to register at some level with the person and can do nothing but harm. How you say things will be as important as what you say; keep (or at least sound) calm and it will reduce the panic of everyone else present.
2) Safety factors
An accident scene can be a hectic place with a lot of things going on at once. It is important to keep safety in mind; if you are helping someone lying in the middle of the road and a semi comes barreling down on both of you, you aren't going to do that person much good.
If people are available, get someone up road and down road to wave down traffic. This is especially important in tight twisties where they may not have time to stop after seeing the accident site.
b. Hazardous material spills (gas, oil, brake fluid)
People and vehicles will slip on this stuff. If ambulance personnel slip on oil while carrying the victim, it is bad. Either clean it off the road or indicate to everyone where it is.
c. Power lines
If power lines are down around or near the victim, ambulance crews may not be able to get near the person until they are shut off. It is important to call the local utility company to get these live wires turned off at the same time an ambulance is called. If the ambulance arrives and they are still live, they will have to call the utility company and wait for them to come out, wasting a lot of precious time in the Golden Hour.
People who smoke tend to light up under stress. Ask these people to either extinguish their smokes or move away from the flammable materials and/or bikes. It is easy to forget something obvious like this in a stressful situation like an accident scene.
e. Safety circle
Establish a few people around the immediate accident scene to help direct traffic, to point out fluid spills, and to warn people who may want to light up
3) Best-trained individual (medically-wise) attends to victim (U-ABCC)
The person with the most training (first aid, CPR, etc.) attends directly to the victim. Assuming the victim is lying on the ground, this person should sit behind their head and should stabilize his or her head to avoid unnecessary movement (i.e. hold their head still). Assume the person has a back/neck injury and any unnecessary movement could risk paralysis.
This person should be doing "U-ABCC'' at the arrival on the scene and every 5 minutes thereafter
Try to determine if the person's injuries are (a) minor or (b) major, i.e. urgent. If unsure, it is urgent. See (6) on trying to diagnose injuries.
Is there something to impede their airway? Gravel in the helmet, something down the throat? This needs to be cleared immediately, without helmet removal if at all possible.
Is the person breathing? Determined by listening, watching their chest, feeling for breath, etc.
Check the pulse on the throat initially and subsequently on their wrist. This is the carotid artery, right next to the wind pipe/adam's apple on either side. If pulse is not present, remove helmet if necessary and begin CPR immediately. When checking pulse on their wrist, do not check with thumb; use the two fingers next to the thumb.
D. Cervical Spine Immobilization
Support the victim's head and make sure they don't move it. CONSIDER EVERY MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT A HEAD INJURY, CONSIDER EVERY MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT A CERVICAL/BACK INJURY! This is important even if they feel they can move their head normally! When you talk to the victim initially, add on a short bit to reassure them;
"You've been in a motorcycle accident. It is important that you don't move. My name is (whatever your name is). Answer me without moving your head. We don't know if you have a neck injury or not. An ambulance is on the way.''
Again, make sure that the victim does not move at all, their head or any other part.
4) The three questions
Ask the victim three questions and document their responses;
Who are you?
Where are you?
What time of day is it?
(Or asking what day of week it is would be fine also. Many people do not know what time of day it is without a watch even in a normal state.)