Accident Scenes

Motorcycle Touring – Accidents & Emergencies

Accident Scene Management:

Accidents can be a messy and traumatic experience, especially if you’re in a foreign country and can’t speak the language. Here’s some basic tips (which I hope you don’t need to use), but which seemed to have worked over the years and so could be useful.


  • Take a couple of deep breaths to slow yourself down, think clearly and logically about how to cope with the emergency situation you are faced with. The worst thing you can do is run around in a panic.
  • If some locals arrive on the scene, they should know what they have to do, according to their local standards. You have to fit in and work with them. If you think you know better, you can try to assume control of the situation, but work in with them as they will have a (local) system, that works for them. This might not be up to your usual western standards, but if that is all you’ve got out there, then work with it, not against it! The locals will be trying to help as best they can.
  • If you’re the accident victim, then you probably won’t be in control of the situation. You will have to go with the flow and see what their actions are – they will attempt to get you to medical treatment if that is what’s needed. Once you’ve reached a medical centre, then you can make an accurate assessment of what is going on and what you require.

Ensure the safety of yourself, the casualty, and bystanders.

  • Direct traffic around the accident scene. Station someone either side – up-road and down-road – from the accident to warn approaching vehicles.
  • Warn other people of any hazards on the road: petrol, oil, brake fluid, sand, or even power lines.
  • Smokers should only light up away from the bikes and / or any flammable materials at the scene.


  • Unconscious. Place any unconscious person in the coma position.
  • Shock: Ask three questions — Who are you / Where are you / What time of day is it?
  • AMPLE if the victim is seriously injured get necessary information while they are conscious.
  • Consider if the person has head or spinal injuries. Support the victim’s head and don’t move it.
  • Give nothing by mouth.
  • Reassure the person


  • U Urgency     Determine if the person’s injuries are minor or major. If you are unsure it is urgent.
  • A Airway.      Clear and open the airway if it is impeded.
  • B Breathing Look: Is their chest rising and falling? Listen: Can you hear breathing sounds? Feel: Can you feel breathing?
  • C Circulation. Check neck pulse. Initially at the neck, and then at the wrist. If no pulse is present, begin CPR.
  • C Cervical Spine Immobilization Consider every motorcycle accident involves a head and / or a cervical / back injury. Support the victim’s head and make sure they don’t move it, if they feel they can move their head normally!


  • Lay the person down.
  • Maintain absolute rest.
  • Elevate the legs.
  • Make the person comfortable, but do not heat.
  • Loosen tight clothing.
  • Give nothing by mouth.
  • Reassure.

Apply direct pressure to the wound to;

  • Compress the blood vessels leading to the wound
  • Retain blood in the wound long enough to clot
  • Apply pressure by placing a bulky dressing over the wound.

Inability to answer 3 questions coherently;

  • Who are you? Where are you? What time of day is it?
  • Pale, cool, clammy skin.
  • Delayed capillary refill. Press your fingernail so that it turns white. It should turn return to pink in less than 2 seconds.
  • Radial pulse (pulse at the wrist) goes away but there is still a pulse on the neck


  • Ensure adequate breathing.
  • Loosen restrictive clothing.
  • Reassure victim.
  • Keep the person warm (but not too hot).
  • Elevate the feet ~6 ins, except if you suspect spinal injuries.
  • Control bleeding.
  • Immobilize fractures to relieve pain and control bleeding.

Only remove the helmet if

  • The person has trouble breathing and needs CPR
  • The injuries demand it be removed
  • The person is vomiting

Do not remove anyone’s helmet if you suspect that they might have any cervical or back injuries.

Removal procedure (two persons needed.)

  • Remove glasses and cut or unfasten the chinstrap.
  • One person must support the head and neck, and the other person lifts the helmet.
  • The person supporting the head and neck, should sit to the side of the victim.
  • The person lifting the helmet, should sit behind the victim’s  head.
  • Force the sides of the helmet apart to take the pressure off their head.

To lift the helmet

  • Tilt the helmet back
  • Lift the helmet clear of the chin
  • Tilt the helmet forward to pass over the base of the skull

Use care not to drop the victim’s head when the helmet comes off. Place a leather jacket or something similar under their head for a pillow.


If the victim is seriously injured and likely to require lengthy hospitalisation, the following information is useful for the medical staff. Call this AMPLE.

A Allergy. Are you allergic to anything?
M Medications. Are you on any medications? Street drugs?
P Past. What’s your past medical history?
L Last meal – when did you eat last? (for the anaesthesiologist if necessary.)
E Events. What events led to the injury?

  • Did they low-side and slide down the road?
  • Did they go over the handle bars?
  • Did they hit their head on a solid object? What marks are on their helmet?
  • What marks / damage is there to the fuel tank or handlebars to indicate any impact with the rider’s lower abdomen or groin region?

The information obtained will assist the doctors with their diagnosis.

The GT Rider