We’ve all taken spills on our bikes, and if you haven’t, you’re lying.
Most of the time we can get away with a bruised hip or a skinned knee or hand, but sometimes thing can get serious.
Experts recommend a variety of ways to check on an injured rider, but in case you’re not feeling like a medical professional, here are a few things you can do if your buddy goes down on the road, trail, gravel, etc.
Before you do anything else, take a deep breath. Panicking only makes things worse.
1. Assess how hard they fell. If he or she is still laying on the ground by the time you get there, chances are the fall was a hard one. If you’re on a busy road, try to get the rider out of the street as soon as possible (without adding to the injuries).
2. See if they’re conscious and have their wits about them. Ask them who the president is? What’s your name? Do you remember falling? Ask for details. This will help you determine if there is a head injury to deal with.
Look at their eyes and see if the pupils are dilated. This could indicate a head injury.
Other head injury symptoms include headache, vomiting and blurred vision.
If they’re unconscious, try calling their name a few times and wait a minute to see if they come around. If they don’t regain consciousness after a minute or two, call an ambulance because this rider is injured beyond what assistance you can (probably) provide.
If the rider is conscious, move on down this list.
3. Check mobility. Ask them to move their head and neck, arms, legs, fingers and toes, and take a couple of deep breaths. If all goes well, you’ve ruled out broken bones.
4. Look for fractures. If there are broken bones, try to keep the rider as comfortable as possible and don’t move him or her unless it’s absolutely necessary. Secure the injured limb if possible by making a splint: place two hard objects on either side of the arm or leg, like sturdy sticks, and wrap something around to keep them in place, like a jersey, Camelbak hose, vines (just avoid poison ivy!), etc.
You can also make a sling out of a jersey and a Camelbak hose by tying one end of the hose to the bottom of the jersey, and the other end to the sleeves or top of the jersey; hold the forearm across the body, like you’re saying the Pledge of Allegiance, to keep it from being jostled. This also works in the case of a broken clavicle (collar bone).
5. Check for road rash and lacerations. Clean dirt out of cuts and road rash with some water from your bottles. If there’s heavy bleeding, get medical help ASAP. Otherwise, clean and bandage the injury ASAP.
6. Try standing. If so far so good, see if the rider can get up. Sometimes dizziness doesn’t present until you change positions, and getting up too fast can cause lightheadedness and blackouts. Hold the rider’s hands or wrists and slowly help them to their feet.
7. Check the gear. If the rider is OK at this point, check their helmet for cracks and dents; this may help indicate a head injury, and definitely means they need a new helmet.
If the rider experiences abdominal pain, get thee to medical attention right away.
Some experts suggest carrying a tiny first-aid kit on rides: some things that will fit in a plastic baggie and can be stuffed in a pocket or frame bag. Here’s what I would pack:
1. A roll of medical tape – the kind you can tear so you don’t need scissors. This works for binding wounds and could help splint a broken bone.
2. Some gauze patches for cover large abrasions.
3. Some large bandaids.
What do you do in the event of a crash? Share your story in the comments.