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What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident

If you are out riding with a group of friends and a motorcycle accident occurs, it is important that at least one person in the group knows what to do when an accident happens. This knowledge combined with the ability to think calmly and act quickly can save lives. Here’s what to do when a rider hits the pavement.

Secure the Scene

The very first thing to do when an accident occurs is to secure the scene. It is your responsibility to ensure that the injured person is not further injured by oncoming traffic, fires, or other environmental hazards such as fluid leaks and downed electrical wires.

Have someone block traffic at a fair distance from the accident in both directions. Extinguish fires, make everyone aware of oil spills on the road, and scan the scene for any other potential hazards.

Call 911

After the imminent danger is past, call for help. The sooner help arrives, the greater the chance of survival for injured persons.

If you cannot use a cell phone, send someone in your group to a nearby home to call for help. It is recommended that you send a woman since she will be more likely to be received by strangers than a big burly man.

First Aid and CPR

The next step is to evaluate the condition of any injured persons. Enlist the help of as many others as are willing and able to help you treat victims. Determine if all injured persons are breathing adequately, have a pulse, and are not bleeding profusely from any wounds.

Unless a person is not breathing, always leave their helmet in place!

Treat all motorcycle accident victims as if they have spinal injuries and have them lie still. Have helpers support the injured person’s head and neck to make it immobile until help arrives. Cover the person with a jacket or blanket if possible and begin five-minute checks (listed below).

If the rider is not breathing, have one helper support the head at the base of the neck with one hand and grasp the chin with the other while you slowly remove the helmet by pulling it straight back off the head. Try to keep the head immobilized as much as possible, and begin rescue breathing or full CPR as needed.

Put pressure on any bleeding areas as soon as possible and communicate with the injured rider in a calm and authoritative manner.

Initial Questions

Immediately following an accident, many riders will be conscious for a short period of time. It is important to gather some information that EMS personnel will need before the person becomes unconscious. Write down the information if possible and include the time with each entry.

Ask the injured rider:

  • Full name
  • Family member to contact, including a contact number
  • Age
  • Date of birth
  • Doctor

Once you have this information recorded, you can move on to some other pertinent questions like:

  • Are you allergic to any medications?
  • What prescription medications do you take?
  • Do you have any medical conditions, like a pacemaker, diabetes, or lung disease?
  • Have you consumed any alcohol or street drugs, and if so, how much?
  • Do you know what happened during the accident?
  • Did you go over the handlebars, were you run over by another vehicle, did you hit your head?

Five-Minute Checks

Once you have recorded the above information, you can begin to help medical personnel even before they arrive by evaluating the injured person at five-minute intervals.

Ask the rider three basic orientation questions to assess for brain trauma:

  1. Do you know your name?
  2. Do you know where you are?
  3. Do you know the date, year, or time of day?

If the injured person becomes unable to answer any of these questions, this can indicate a serious medical problem that will require quick intervention once EMS personnel arrive.

In addition to the three orientation questions above, you should check and record the person’s pulse and breathing rate every five minutes. If you cannot locate a pulse in the wrist, try locating one on either side of the windpipe in the neck.

Try to Stay Calm

If the person becomes unconscious, continue to record his pulse and breathing rate until help arrives. This gives medical personnel an idea of the extent of internal injuries even before tests are done so they will know where to concentrate their efforts first.

While you are evaluating the injured rider, have another person record license plate numbers, contact information of witnesses, and sketch the scene of the accident for future reference.

Try to stay calm and encourage others to do the same. Curb the impulse to talk too much and only provide information to EMS and police when they arrive. Then seek out a motorcycle accident attorney near you and make sure you have done all you can.


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