First Aid for Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Being involved in any type of motor vehicle accident can be a harrowing experience. Clear thinking and deliberate action at the scene can mean the difference between life and death, even more so in the case of motorcycle accidents. A motorcycle accident poses greater risk of injury to the rider than do many automobile accidents pose to passengers. However, the right equipment can go a long way toward protecting a rider in some accident situations. Gloves, boots, durable pants, and a sturdy jacket can minimize cuts and abrasions, while a quality helmet can protect against serious head injury. Riders should carry a first aid kit that includes disinfectants, gauze pads, wire splint, antibiotic ointment, and adhesive and elastic bandages. A cell phone is also good to have on hand.
This information is intended to be a start in educating yourself on what to do if you encounter an accident. This information should not be viewed as an authoritative source of medical advice. You should take further steps to educate yourself, such as taking certified CPR classes, a Red Cross First Aid class, talking to your doctor or local fire department/rescue squad. These are only suggestions, each situation may warrant different responses. The Law Tigers will not be held responsible for any injury that may occur as a result of following the steps as provided within. Responsibility for injury resides within every individual to educate themselves as much as possible. When riding your motorcycle, it is your responsibility to have the proper knowledge, experience, and equipment to travel safely.
If you witness or come across a motorcycle accident, there are steps you can take to help stabilize the victim before the paramedics arrive.
After you call an ambulance, take a moment to evaluate the situation. If there is no immediate danger, do not move the motorcycle accident victim until you can assess the severity of his or her injuries. Ask the victim what happened. This will help you determine if the victim is lucid and can give you a better idea about his or her condition. Then check for the following:
- Pain and numbness in the victim’s neck, shoulders, arms, or legs
- Injuries to the head and chest
- Tenderness or tightness in the abdomen that may indicate internal injuries
- Sprains or breaks in the limbs
Any injury to the neck is potentially serious, and should be handled with the greatest degree of caution. If the victim is unconscious or experiencing pain or numbness in the neck or limbs, which may indicate a neck fracture, make sure he or she remains still. Moving the victim could result in paralysis or death, and should only be attempted if the victim’s further safety is threatened. Do not remove the helmet unless the victim has stopped breathing and requires CPR.
Shock occurs when the victim’s body begins to shut down, often as a result of significant blood loss, internal bleeding, or damage to the nervous system. Any external bleeding needs be controlled. Signs of shock following a motorcycle accident injury may include:
- Clammy skin
- Shallow breathing
- Weak or rapid pulse
To treat shock, keep the victim warm with a blanket or other covering. Try to restore proper blood flow to the brain by laying the victim down with feet above his or her head. Keep in mind that shock has a gradual effect. The victim may feel fine one moment and begin showing signs of shock soon after. For this reason, it is important to keep an eye on the victim until paramedics arrive.
Begin CPR by opening the victim’s airway by gently tilting the head back and moving the jaw forward. A motorcycle accident victim may have a neck injury, so it is crucial that this step be performed as carefully as possible. With the airway open, listen for breathing. If the victim is still not breathing, remove anything that may be obstructing the airway, pinch the nose, and place your mouth over the victim’s to create a tight seal. Blow until the victim’s chest rises. Let the chest fall and repeat. Each breath should be about one second in duration. If the victim is still unresponsive, begin chest compressions. Place the heel of one hand on the victim’s breastbone, and the other hand on top of the first with fingers interlocked. Compress the chest between 1½ and 2 inches. Try for about 100 compressions per minute. Alternate every 15 compressions with two breaths into the victim’s mouth.
CPR is an important skill to master. Consider attending a CPR course to learn how to perform it properly and perfect the technique.
A splint is used to immobilize the fractured limb and take the place of the broken bone. Lengths of wood, pipe, wire, or even rolled newspapers can make an effective splint. Position the splint around the fracture, being careful not to straighten a limb that is twisted. The limb should be splinted in the position it was found. If possible, arrange the splint to include the joints above and below the fracture. This will help to immobilize the injured area. Secure the splint against the limb; an elastic bandage is ideal, but if that is not available, tape, belts, cloth strips, or other material that can be tied or wrapped around the splinted area can be used instead. Make sure the binding is not pressing on the injury, and it is not tied so tight as to cut off circulation. Check the injured area repeatedly for swelling, paleness, or numbness, and loosen the splint if necessary. Wait for medical assistance.
A common motorcycle accident injury, road rash is a term used to describe abrasions, burns, and other soft tissue damage. Begin by cleaning the wound with soap and water to remove dirt and debris that can cause infection. Ice can be used to numb the area if washing is too painful. Apply an antibiotic solution, and then pick out the remaining debris with a sterile needle or pin. Wash the area again with the solution and cover with an antiseptic ointment. Finally, dress the wound with nonstick gauze and a bandage.
To control bleeding after a motorcycle accident injury, apply direct pressure to the wound with gauze or a clean rag or T-shirt. Determine if it is safe to move the victim, and get the victim prone, elevating the injury so that it is above the heart. If the first rag or shirt soaks through, place a new one directly over the old one and continue applying pressure. Watch for signs of shock.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
First aid on the scene can potentially save the life of a motorcycle accident victim, but the information on this page should not be substituted for proper first aid training. Check with your local Red Cross for information about first aid classes they offer. If you have suffered a motorcycle accident injury, contact the Law Tigers to locate an experienced motorcycle injury attorney who can help you obtain compensation for your injury.