What to do in an Emergency

This is a very basic Emergency Management primer. As a Ride Leader on a bicycle ride, you cannot be expected to be at the scene of a crash on your ride. Riders will be miles apart from each other within a half-hour from the start and any of them (including you) could be involved. You can’t be everywhere. This is for informational purposes only, with the hope that if you need information like this on your ride or some future ride you may participate in it will be of help.

This is not intended to supplant any Emergency Management training you may have had. If you have this type of training, you probably don’t need this.

On any particular ride, the odds are that no riders will crash. But during the whole season, it is virtually certain that there will be more than one crash occurring on NSC rides. A crash can occur on any ride at almost any time. It may or may not involve any particular rider including the ride leader. The more riders that are aware of basic emergency management, the better off the group will be. This article is written for a rider who is present at a crash but is not a victim of it. No exclusion is meant by the term ‘his’ or ‘him’ in this article; it could just as well be read ‘her’. It is not meant to teach first aid.

  1. Do not panic. Some people can remain composed better than others. Strive to be one of them. Do not allow other people’s reactions to affect your thinking. Think for yourself.
  2. Assess the situation. If nobody is seriously hurt, the crashed riders may be on their feet before the rest of the group has even stopped. If so, get everybody off the road and do the cleanup and evaluation safely away from traffic. Worry about people first, bikes last.
  3. If a rider does not bounce right back up, an initial evaluation of his condition will have to be made on the pavement. If the rider cannot get up, persuade him not to try. Protect the rider from traffic. A 911 call will be necessary. Do not move a rider who cannot move himself until an EMT or doctor has evaluated him. If the rider is ambulatory but obviously hurt, help him off the road.
  4. One person should attend to the victim. Everybody else should be close enough to answer if the attendant needs help but far enough back so as not to pressure, embarrass, or concern the victim. It is obviously preferable that the attendant is a member of the group with first aid and or CPR training but that is not always possible. If there are multiple victims, each victim gets one attendant. Of the people not attending to the victims, one person only should be designated to call for help. It is probable somebody in the group has a cell phone. If that person does not know the area that well, have him work the phone but find somebody who does know the area to do the talking. It is likely there is more than one cell phone. If a 911 call is made, it is very important that there is ONLY ONE 911 call. Multiple 911 calls for the same accident may confuse the responders and delay or dilute the response.
  5. If a 911 call is made, the caller should be out of earshot of the victim but in contact with the attendant to answer questions from the 911 operator.
  6. A 911 call is justified if the victim has lost consciousness (even if he ‘comes out of it’), cannot feel or move any extremity, is incoherent, not ambulatory, or is obviously badly hurt.
  7. If everybody is OK but a bike is not rideable, you have an inconvenience but not an emergency. Do not call 911. Finish the ride and send somebody back for the stuck rider(s), or call a spouse or acquaintance. Do not accept rides from strangers or allow strangers to take anybody’s bike.
  8. If a 911 call is made, an incident report is mandatory. There is a form with directions in the ride leader’s package from the club. If there is outside involvement without a call being placed, such as a police officer coming across the crash scene while on patrol, it is up to the judgement of the ride leader. A police officer taking statements and names mandates an incident report.

The most common crash injury is ‘road rash’ with bruises. Often the victim will just keep on riding. Encourage the victim to get appropriate treatment. Do not treat or prescribe treatment.