Helmet removal after an accident
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Thread: Helmet removal after an accident

  1. #1
    Poser Emeritus Array bill's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    Lower Mainland

    Helmet removal after an accident

    I copied this over from the Long Distance Riders website and thought it might be useful reading. This was posted there from another list. The context was a discussion of helmets and the circumstances surrounding their removal in an emergency. Here is the post.

    I am a firefighter and have responded to my fair share of motorcycle
    accidents. I also have training in the subject of removing helmets (not
    just motorcycle helmets either -- lots of other sports involve
    helmets too).

    First off, I would like to point out that the concern is Mr. Motorcycle
    Crash Victim broke bones in his neck without without severing the spinal
    cord. The fear is that in removing the helmet, broken bone shards will
    sever the unprotected nerves.

    Now, someone in an open face helmet who has unintentionally departed
    from a motorcycle at sufficient speed to receive c-spine damage has a
    greater risk of drowning in their own blood before anyone has a chance
    to remove their helmet. And while it is possible that someone with a
    broken neck may not already have permanent spinal cord damage, the odds
    are really slim. If you think removing their helmet will jostle their
    head, what do you think the tumble just did? I've been to a few car
    accidents where the seatbelt may have caused some injury but they are
    far outweighed by the accidents where the seatbelt prevented injury or
    death. Using fear of post-accident trauma as a justification for wearing
    an open face helmet is just plain stupid. Odds are the full face helmet
    will save far more riders than will be injured.

    Now, as for what to do in case of an accident involving a fellow rider.

    The prime rule of medicine is "Above all, do no harm." That often means
    if you don't know what to do, do nothing. It also means that sometimes
    you must weigh the danger of doing nothing against the danger of taking
    action. The first rule of rescue is "Don't make more victims". That
    means identifying danger to yourself and taking measures to prevent
    becoming another victim. So keep calm, take a deep breath and



    Let's put this into a scenario: You and your buddies are out for a ride.
    The lead rider runs smack dab into a deer in the middle of a curve. Bike
    rider and deer end up a mess of bloody pulp in the middle of the road.
    All other riders stop safely.

    Among the dangers and risks:
    -Other traffic coming around the curve
    -Spilt fuel may ignite
    -The deer may start kicking
    -Downed wires or other environmental hazards

    Among the medical concerns:
    -Broken neck
    -Severe bleeding
    -Other internal injuries
    -Minor broken bones

    (When evaluating the medical concerns, it helps if you have had first
    aid training. Take a course now, before you need it)

    Someone must take charge. Everyone else must follow orders. It's usually
    obvious in the first few seconds who is going to be competent. Remember
    that there are 4 kinds of people at these things. Those that know what
    they are doing and take appropriate action, those that freeze up and are
    of no use to anyone, those that don't know what to do but will follow
    orders and those that think they must act and do the first thing that
    pops into their head.

    If you are going to take charge then do it. Watch out for the person
    running towards the downed rider -- they are type 4 and will get
    themselves or others hurt.

    First thing is to make the scene safe. Position someone to stop traffic.
    (If you have to, park a bike in the middle of the road before the curve
    -- at least the sound of the crash will let you know someone is coming!)
    Don't forget traffic can come from either direction. Call to the rider
    and tell him to lie still. Look for other hazards (such as downed wires)
    surrounding the incident. Shut off all sources of ignition, including
    the crashed bike. Avoid lighting up that nerve-calming cigarette. If
    it's not tangled up with the injured rider, grab the deer by the hooves
    and drag it over to the ditch. Approach the injured rider from his front
    (so he doesn't try turning his head to see you), and continue to tell
    him to stay calm and lie still.

    Evaluate his condition and circumstances. If you made the scene safe,
    and if he is breathing and has a pulse, then there is no reason to move
    him immediately. You can apply direct pressure with the cleanest
    available material to any bleeding and call for help. If he is not
    breathing, or does not have a pulse, or you cannot make the scene safe
    (for example, he is lying in a pool of fuel and the bike is dripping
    more onto a hot engine) then you may have to take further action. If you
    MUST move him, then move him as a unit in the position found if
    possible. One person should hold the head, applying light traction (a
    very LIGHT "pull" away from the shoulders) Others can grasp his
    clothing. The person at the head will direct the movement. On his
    3-count, everyone moves together to slowly extricate the patient. Do
    only what is necessary. If the patient is not breathing or has
    no pulse, you will need to position them onto their back. It should be
    done in stages at the direction of the person at the head:

    "Ok, you and you will lift the bike. On 3 the three of us will pull him
    straight out from under as far as the yellow line over there. When we
    are clear, I will rotate his head, then Joe will straighten his right
    leg and we will roll him onto his back. If anybody spots a problem call
    'Freeze' and we will all stop. Does everybody understand?"

    "Ok guys, lift the bike. Ready? One, Two, Three."

    "That's good there. Hold for a moment." <Still applying light traction,
    the head person gently rotates the head so it is in neutral alignment --
    straight with the torso and neither tipped towards or away from the
    chest. Stop immediately if any resistance or grinding is felt>

    "Now Joe, straighten the leg out." <Joe applies light traction to the
    leg while straightening it out>

    "Good. On 3 we will roll him onto his back. One, Two, Three." <Still
    applying light traction, the head person keeps it in neutral alignment
    as the patient is rolled>

    If the patient is not breathing, you will have to remove the helmet.
    Breathing and circulation take precedence over spinal injury. Cutting it
    off is not an option in the field, so you will have to proceed the hard
    way. With at least two guys, unfasten the helmet buckle and attempt to
    maintain neutral alignment and LIGHT traction while slowly and gently
    removing the helmet. Usually this means one fellow at the side will
    slide his hand up the back of the neck to support the head while the
    other fellow removes the helmet. You may have to rotate the helmet
    forward slightly as you draw it off to prevent movement of the head.
    Once clear, proceed with CPR and/or Rescue Breathing as required by your
    first aid training.

    Needless to say folks, the above few paragraphs will not make you an
    expert. I offer this for emergency use only, with the understanding that
    qualified help is some time away. If the patient is not breathing, then
    they are already dead. You can't hurt them further, but you MIGHT save
    them. Which brings us back to point #1: Above all, do no harm. Do not
    take any action unless you have to. Usually, the best thing is to make
    the scene safe and call for help. Keep the patient re-assured and calm
    if they are conscious.

    And keep any Type 4 guys under control away from the patient...


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  3. #2
    You gotta lean into it! Array InvisibleSoul's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Kawasaki Ninja Silver ZX1R Pocketbike (Matching ZX6R Stolen)
    That's some good information.

  4. #3
    Been riding since 1985 Array philtag6000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Coming soon
    Good info, thanks.
    History of bikes:

    (1) '85 Honda Elite 150cc
    (2) '84 Honda Interceptor 500cc
    (3) '89 Kawasaki Ninja 600cc
    (4) '89 Honda Hurricane 600cc
    (5) '00 Kawasaki Ninja 250cc
    (6) '02 Honda CBR600F4i
    (7) '04 Suzuki Burgman 400cc

  5. #4
    And shepherds we shall be Array miraclejoe's Avatar
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    Gixxer V2.1

    You're at an accident, you take charge cause you got the first aid training and your nerver are good. You got the type 4 guy to deal with. Get him to block traffick IN A SAFE WAY, away from the scene. That or get him to boil water, or anything else that keeps him busy.
    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Quote Originally Posted by slingshot View Post
    Fascist oppressor.

  6. #5
    Registered User Array
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    May 2002
    West Vancouver
    '79 Honda 500SE<- Joke, I have a nice bike
    Good info, not absolutly the whole story, but very usefull. I don't really like his description of "type 4" people as those that run towards a downed rider. It all depends on the nature and style of your first aid training.


  7. #6
    Registered User Array CyBeR_Pinky's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    red and black
    very useful. thanks!

  8. #7
    Devil's Advocate Array RoadBlur's Avatar
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    The slums of new west
    Suzuki XV 2182
    good read, good post
    -=Graduate: Dragon Driving School=-

    Raise your pitch forks in the air, shake 'em like ya just don't care!

  9. #8
    _____________ Array iceneweb's Avatar
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    South Surrey
    1975 Snortin' Norton Commando, 19somethin` Old . . . .
    excellent advice

  10. #9
    Rock bottom here I come Array Dalma's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    2002 Honda VFR800
    I was a volunteer fire fighter for three years and attended more than 65 Motor Vehicle Accidents and was a certified first responder.

    I largely agree with the comments but would like to add the following:

    1) If you involved in a rescue your safety is the number one concern. You don't want to be added to the list of victims. Look for all of the hazards, make sure to stop traffic and don't worry about upsetting other drivers because you will by delaying them.

    2) Instruct someone to call 911 to report the location of the accident, the number of people injured and request Fire Department, Police and Ambulance attend. Also instruct the person to tell you when they have completed this.

    3) If people have stopped to help ask if anyone has Certified First Aid training and if so ask them to wait near you for instructions.

    4) Assess your patient with the 'do no harm' mentality. You will have a 'life over limb' frameset to work with. This means that you may have to make some critical decisions.

    5) Do an D,A,B,C analysis where
    D - spinal management, find something someone to stabilize neck and head movement.
    A - Airway, make sure the patient's airway is open and nothing is stuck in their mouth.
    B - Breathing, make sure the patient is breathing and assist if needed.
    C - Circulation, make sure the patient has a pulse and take action if needed.

    Following this you would do a full body scan where you attempting to locate punctures to the body and severe bleeding.

    Continue to provide assistance and/or monitor until Fire or Ambulance arrives and takes over this duty.

    Then give report to police and go for a stiff drink where you will later phone a friend to pick up from the bar.

  11. #10
    Here is a picture from my Occupational First Aid book just to show you what the anatomical neutral position of the head is.

    Remember basic first aid:

    • Scene assessment
    • A - Airway management. (with c-spine control)
    • B - Breathing assessment.
    • C - Circulation assessment.
    • Rapid Body Survey. (quickly go over the patient to look for major trauma)
    • Critical Interventions. (stopping bleeding, etc)
    • Secondary Survey. (checking pupils for dilation, for signs of shock, etc)

    EDIT Looks like Dalma beat me to the explanation of the Priority Action Approach.
    Last edited by Crabalocker; 02-11-2004 at 04:16 PM.

  12. #11
    Registered User Array
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    May 2002
    West Vancouver
    '79 Honda 500SE<- Joke, I have a nice bike
    "If you involved in a rescue your safety is the number one concern."

    This is where my training is quite different. I have always been taught to evaluate the safety of everyone involved as a group, rather than put the saftey of rescue personel over that of the victims. This might not be a very healthy policy for someone like a firefighter who must deal with situations every day, but I am not a firefighter.


  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Sandworm
    "If you involved in a rescue your safety is the number one concern."

    This is where my training is quite different. I have always been taught to evaluate the safety of everyone involved as a group, rather than put the saftey of rescue personel over that of the victims. This might not be a very healthy policy for someone like a firefighter who must deal with situations every day, but I am not a firefighter.


    True, but if you get smoked by a car you are more of a liability than an asset right?

  14. #13
    Rock bottom here I come Array Dalma's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    2002 Honda VFR800
    Rescuers are trained to not become victims, it's very difficult to help anyone else if you need to be rescued. It is a tough phrase to swallow since anyone that is inclined to be a rescuer would have a very hard time not assisting someone else due to hazards alone.

    The underlying theory is that you did not create the crisis and your only there to help not to sacrifice yourself.

  15. #14
    fat old bastard Array mess's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    beside Dizzy
    Big fat 1400cc pig XR650Rtard


    Just don't call an ambulance if you have an accident on your bike in Richmond...stupid fuckers tried to take my helmet off without undoing the strap.
    Lynne had to yell at them to stop,i was too far out of it to protest at that point,i just feel lucky that i'm not in a wheelchair.
    My experience has made me feel that from the rescue service, the cops who didn't do their job, the hospitals that treated me like it was my fault and ICBC who doesn't give a rats ass about my condition are nothing but incompetent morons.

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