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In Case Of Accident, Break Face

Posted: 15 October 2020 Guest Posts

Top tube detail on a blue-patterned carbon bicycle frame

This post was written in conjunction with a long-term BMCR customer -- also a firey -- who wished to remain anonymous. You may call him The Professional Hero.

These following steps don't make up a snappy acronym, but they may save someone's life, including yours. Let's break it down.

Step One: Danger

Safety is a priority, both the injured rider and for those around them. (The Professional Hero once attended a crash where a cyclist had suffered a heart attack, and then a couple of riders were hit by a car because the group were blocking the road. #screamemoji)

Firstly: check for dangers around you -- if others are free, they can act as traffic marshals -- then move the injured rider to a safe place. Don't worry about spinal injuries: life comes before spine.

Step Two: Response

In most incidents, the rider will still be conscious and responsive, so the next steps are monitoring and reassurance. It's probably a good idea to call for an ambulance.

If the rider is unresponsive, however, check for breathing, and call an ambulance immediately.

Step Three: Airway Check

With an unresponsive rider, lie them on their side, and make sure that the airway is clear and not blocked by the rider's tongue, dentures, or gum. (Food is less likely, but check anyway.)

Step Four: Circulation

If there is no pulse (most likely if the rider has suffered a heart attack), then CPR is required.

If no-one in the group is trained in first aid, call an ambulance and then have a go at CPR yourself. Any attempt is better than none. (When the whole thing is over, remind yourself to sign up for a first aid course.)

A cyclist hitting the road in a crash, his bicycle flying through the air above him
This is going to get worse before it gets better.

Step Five: Control Bleeding

Although it's rare that cyclists have bleeding or bones-poking-out issues, if there is profuse bleeding, apply pressure to the area.

If it's a nosebleed, get them to lean forward so the blood goes out of the nose rather than down the back of their throat.

If blood is coming from the ear, make sure the rider is lying down with the bleeding side to the ground.

With all of these situations, call for an ambulance.

Step Six: Address Shock

Grazes and gravel rash are not life-threatening, but shock can be. All riders who have been in an accident should be treated as if they have it.

So what are the symptoms?

  • Feeling cool, cold or clammy. (Blood is being taken from the extremities to the core.)
  • Rapid and shallow breathing.
  • Rapid weak pulse.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Weakness.
  • Anxiety or confusion.
  • Chest pain.
  • Sweating.

To treat shock:

  1. Make the person feel comfortable (e.g. make them warm if they're cold; put them in the shade if they're hot).
  2. Lower their head and/or raise their legs.
  3. Provide reassurance - stay with them and talk to them.
  4. Ask them basic questions.
  5. Keep them informed.
  6. Loosen tight clothing.
  7. Do not give liquids.

"But should I really dial 000?"

The Professional Hero recommends calling an ambulance for all but the most minor of injuries. Concussion and shock are just two conditions which can be hard to identify early.

Think of it this way: you never hear someone say, "I regret calling an ambulance."

If everyone thinks and stays calm, a good outcome is likely. As Rudyard Kipling said, "If you keep your head whilst all those around you are losing theirs, yours is the Earth and everything that's in it."

Thanks, Professional Hero!

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