First responder.

I witnessed an injury motorcycle accident on Friday.

This is not an account of that accident, as that is not my story.

I will, however, talk about the parts that are my story.

I’d never seen a motorcycle accident before, nor had I ever been at any accident scene. I’d definitely never been the first responder.

I would read articles in bike magazines about accident scene preparedness and wonder how I would handle it. Would I be calm, cool, collected? Or would I panic or freeze? I’ve taken first aid classes, but the last one was three years ago. It’s been years since I had a CPR class. Would I remember any of it?

As it turns out, I did OK.

I didn’t do a couple of things that I “should” have — I didn’t ask “what’s your name/where are we/what day is it?” every 5 minutes like you’re supposed to. The rider was clearly conscious and coherent, though, despite being in a lot of pain, and was talking to me throughout. So I think it was OK that I didn’t ask those questions.

Likewise, I didn’t specifically check for breathing….I rather assumed that anyone who was talking OK was also probably breathing OK. 😉

I did a few things right.

I called 911 instantly (though it took 5 minutes to get through, which was stressful) and delegated traffic control to the two other riders with our group. They were superstars and made sure all traffic coming around either corner towards the accident scene was slow and controlled. They also made sure the ambulances and fire trucks found safe parking and they directed cars around the emergency vehicles so the EMTs could do their jobs. When the rider and I left for the hospital via ambulance, our traffic-directing friends were put in charge of “do something with the two bikes”. One of them even rode my F650GS to the hospital for me so that I wouldn’t have to find a ride back to work to pick it up. Frickin’ superstars.

I didn’t do much at the hospital other than hang around the waiting room and photograph the damaged gear.

I gave a statement to a police officer and answered some questions. It was a single vehicle crash with no property damage (other than the bike, of course) so it was all pretty straightforward. I had a hard time finding simple words and explanations…for example, the rider had highsided, but the officer was unfamiliar with bikes and didn’t know what that meant. My brain was started to rattle by that point and I had a hard time coming up with “it flipped or somersaulted”. The officer and I finally resorted to a sort of verbal charades where he would offer a few words or phrases and I would look confused and say “No, not really….” or my face would light up and say “Yes! Like that!” I’m assuming he’s used to dealing with people in shock who are being a little slow. 😉

The rider in question is (relatively) OK — a deep laceration that required internal and external stitches. I think the only reason that injury even happened was due to slightly loose textile pants (something stabbed and then dragged across the knee). A good reminder to make sure my gear fits properly.

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5 Responses to First responder.

  1. Mike says:

    Good job! Especially with the traffic control. Too many times other accidents are caused by people trying to get around the original accident.

  2. alison says:

    From my own first responder training, you did everything perfectly. Obviously, checking for breathing and the like are things you would only do with someone who was unconscious. The fact that you were cool and collected helped the victim stay that way as well, and the way you handled onlookers as well as delegating tasks was textbook.
    I am sure the victim thinks you’re eight kinds of awesome. (Possibly nine.)

  3. Snarfdog says:

    Sounds to me like you did the right things. New CPR/First Aid regs don’t indicate checking for breathing unless the patient is unconscious and not obviously breathing EVEN IF YOU’VE STARTED CPR BECAUSE THERE WASN’T ANY BREATHING/HEART RATE. Sounds strange, but makes sense once you practice it. The theory is that it’s more important to keep blood pumping and oxygen flowing than to stop those vital needs to check. If the person doesn’t need them anymore they will start moving/making some sort of noise that would indicate re-evaluation. So, good job Poof!

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