Crash Scene Field Reference
Written by Rich Morin.
Precis: field reference for motorcycle crash scenes
After carefully reading this reference (twice is good!), print out a copy, fold it up, and carry it with you on rides. Even better, print extra copies and give them out to your fellow riders.
Your challenge is to make the scene safe, collect and report information to 911, and attempt to help the victims. There will be a lot to do; enlist drivers and riders to help! Here goes…
Make the scene safe
- Close off incoming lanes for at least 100 feet from the accident. Go around curves, if need be, to provide enough room for drivers to slow down and stop.
- Cones, flares, and flashers are helpful, but diagonally parked cars provide a physical barrier. Motorcycles with headlights and flashers on can be helpful, but keep them off to the side of the road.
- Turn off ignition switches and fuel valves on involved motorcycles. Keep flares safely away from flammable materials such as roadside brush and litter, spilled gas and oil, etc.
- After you have enough cars to form a barrier, direct traffic around or away from the crash scene.
Gather and record pertinent information. Report urgent information at once to 911. If need be, send drivers and/or riders out (in multiple directions) with critical information.
- Where are you? Street, mile markers, nearest cross streets, nearby landmarks, etc. Include your lane’s direction of travel and position (lane 1 is nearest the center of the roadway).
- What is the nature of the emergency? How many people are injured? Describe the nature and severity of injuries. Are the patients conscious? Are there specific complaints of pain or deformity?
- Assess scene considerations. Will access be difficult? Will any special equipment be needed?
Report pertinent information to first responders as they arrive. Paramedics just need a quick medical summary; police may want more details.
- Locate the most useful witnesses; have them stay, record their impressions, and report to responders.
- What happened in the crash? What was the mechanism of injury? What were the impact directions, objects, speeds, and results? Did the rider(s) crash, slide, or tumble?
- How did the rider(s) behave immediately after the accident? Did they get up and walk around, sit or lay on the ground, etc? Are they alert, cogent, and communicative?
- Get information on each injured party: age and birthdate, full name, pertinent medical history.
Render First Aid
Who has recent first aid training? Use them for this part! Your tasks are to: immobilize the patient, protect airway / breathing, stop any major bleeding, expose the injury to view, and monitor the patient for shock.
- Avoid moving the patient, unless his airway is compromised. Try to avoid rotating the patient’s neck.
- Roll the patient to turn his face upwards. If he needs to vomit, roll him onto his (ideally, left) side.
- Remove any visible obstructions from the patient’s airway.
- Open or remove the visor. Remove the helmet only if necessary for breathing.
- Immobilize and support the patient’s head and neck, as appropriate.
- Immobilize any suspected fractures, using some sort of splint.
- Expose suspected injuries; cut away clothing, if need be (up the outer seams works best).
Flipping over the patient: This takes three people. One person, kneeling just past the head, supports the head and neck, while keeping thm aligned with the body. The other two people kneel by the patient’s side: one grasps the upper arm and hip; one grasps the leg and knee. On the count of three, flip the patient over.
Removing the patient’s helmet: This takes two people. One person supports the neck; the other spreads the helmet opening, tilts (rotates) the helmet back and slides it off, while supporting the patient’s head.
Stop Major Bleeding
Losing more than two pints of blood can result in shock. Arterial blood flows faster and is harder to stop. Here are some things to try, in rough order by difficulty:
- Apply hemostatic dressings. If need be, apply direct pressure and/or elevate the extremity.
- Apply pressure to the femoral (inside of the upper thigh) or brachial (inside of the upper arm) artery.
- Use a tourniquet only if the patient’s life is at risk (and note the time for the paramedics).
- Maintain the patient’s temperature by shielding him from heat or cold.
- Monitor patient for shock symptoms: anxiety, increased thirst, fast breathing or heart rate, pallor, sweating, weakness.
- Talk with the patient to calm him and monitor his condition.
- Withhold fluids and food from the patient; give nothing by mouth.
If you have any allergies or other medical conditions, be sure to carry a medical ID card in your wallet. Here are some supplies you should consider keeping on your bike, if you can spare the room:
- CAUTION tape, emergency flares and/or flashers, flashlights, reflective blanket
- disposable gloves (Latex or Nitrile) and masks; protective glassses
- cohesive bandage wrap, elastic bandages, hemostatic dressings
- cold packs, roll-up splint, tourniquet, trauma kit, trauma shears
- baby and hand cleansing wipes, clean microfiber cloths, paper towels, package tape, zip ties
- index cards and/or a small note pad, pencils and/or pens, permanent markers
Paul Willett is a highly experienced first responder (Fire Fighter, Paramedic, Search and Rescue) and motorcyclist who has been at the scene of many accidents. The following material is based on Paul’s “Crash Scene - Life and Death Workshop” sessions, given at Doc Wong’s Street Riding Clinics. This page was last edited by Rich Morin (email@example.com) on November 3, 2019.