When was the last time you took a First Aid course? Do you know what to do if one of your friends goes down on a ride? Do the members of the group know what to do if you go down?
No one wants to think about leaving their bikes, but it happens. Whether it’s due to weather, pushing beyond your ability, or an inattentive driver, motorcyclists get hurt regularly. Knowing some First Aid is helpful in those roadside emergencies and can even save a life. NMBL and I have both done First Aid training but our certifications have lapsed. This week we took the opportunity to update our knowledge specifically for riders. The local Mottorad dealership, High Road Vancouver, hosted a First Aid on the Road clinic with a pair of paramedics who are riders themselves.
The clinic was presented by Paramedic Chief Justin Boucher. Justin and his partner covered topics like accident scene safety, basic accident knowledge, types of injuries to expect, basic skills, the Good Samaritan Act, and First Aid Gear to carry with you. It was a full house at this event with a good mix of riders, bikes, and styles. We were happy to see so many people interested in basic safety knowledge.
We learned a few new things from a First Aid perspective: At the very least keep some Nitrile gloves on you. For a basic First Aid kit, have bandages, a triangular bandage, a wrap, gauze, and pressure dressings. You can keep all this in a zip-lock bag or some small pouch. It all packs down nice and easy so you can keep it in a jacket pocket.Plus those little sterile wipes that say they’re past date; guess what… they’re still good. Alcohol wipes and saline wash are good as long as the package isn’t broken.
Did you know that you no longer have to give mouth-to-mouth when doing chest compressions? This change was news to me. Also, besides road rash, the most common motorcycling injuries are broken bones to the extremities. A motorcyclist who is T-boned is more likely to lose a limb. Gruesome stuff but good to know if you or one of your riding buddies is in an accident.
The single most important piece of knowledge we gleaned from this clinic was accident scene safety. You’re no good to anyone if you end up injured yourself so making sure that you can safely help an injured rider is incredibly important. The first thing to do is make sure traffic coming up from behind you knows that something is happening ahead. Place your bike well behind the accident with your four-way flashers on (face into oncoming traffic if you can). Put a helmet on the ground well behind that. This way you give drivers a heads up that something is wrong. Give the accident scene and your signaling bike & gear a good amount of space. Remember: if someone hits your bike, it’s insured. If someone hits you, you’re dead.
While it’s not fun to think about going down, it’s something we all need to be aware of. It’s not a matter of if you’ll go down on your bike, it’s a matter of when. Same with the people you ride with. Make sure you’re all as safe as possible. Check the dealers and repair shops in you area for First Aid clinics like this. The people working at these places are riders as well, and the vast majority care about the motorcycling community. And remember, a little knowledge can go a long way to saving a life on the road.