Injury Prevention

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Injury Prevention
Roadside Diagnosis
3 simple steps to take after a crash.
ByChristine Mattheis
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When professional cyclists crash during races, they're relatively lucky because medical professionals and throngs of bystanders are on hand to offer help. If someone on your group ride tumbles, stay calm but act quickly, and keep in mind these three key tips.
 

Clear the Road. If the fallen cyclist can walk, have him move away from traffic while you clear the bike and personal belongings off the road. If the victim can't move or loses consciousness, block traffic—or order others in the group to—and dial 911 on your cell phone. Tom Meloy, a volunteer ride leader for Seattle's Cascade Bicycle Club, suggests flagging down cars for help. On one of his rides, a cyclist overshot a corner and separated a shoulder. A passing car stopped and, says Meloy, "the injured rider was driven to the hospital. We didn't even have to call an ambulance."
 

Ask Questions. Gerald Bilsky, M.D., who treated former pro cyclist Saul Raisin at Atlanta's Shepherd Center after an ultimately career-ending spill, says to ask crash victims many questions while examining them from head to toe: "Can you see me okay? Can you follow my fingers? Are things blurry? Does it hurt if you take a deep breath? Do you feel short of breath? Do you have abdominal pain?" Bilsky says that if the cyclist complains of a headache or blurred vision, or if anything seems atypical or out of place, immediate medical attention should be sought. "Look in the injured person's eyes and at their pupils and make sure they react. Make sure they can follow directions," Bilsky says.
 

In Meloy's experience as a ride leader, he has found that injured bikers become very talkative. "A lot of times after an accident, people want to apologize," he says. "Just talk to them and reassure them that they will be fine, and keep asking questions."
 

Check the Helmet. "Whether the cyclist is on the ground or walking, I always check for a head injury," Meloy says. According to Bilsky, the victim should see a doctor if the helmet shows even tiny cracks or dents. "Saul was an example—over the next 36 hours, he got worse," Bilsky says. "If there's a suspected head injury, the person needs to be transported for medical attention and assessed." Otherwise, if the cyclist feels capable, the ride can continue as planned.


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Comments

encountered that experience last summer in front of national cemetery facing the pentagon. happened in an instant blood all down the front teeth came through the lower lip. i was almost shocked. people stopped almost immediately to render assistance. i could have flagged down a passing taxi or motoists. after a few minutes he checked himself out and insisted we RIDE HOME! i felt horrible and at a total loss but could not overstep his freedom of will. amid scrapes and bruises no concussion or broken bones we found out later the only bad part was that the doctor left in the lower lip stitches too long. thankfully he healed up quite well.
Great advice. After these three steps, if a driver is at fault, I would add: take down the names and contact information of witnesses and anyone else involved, even if you think you haven't sustained any significant injuries. I was once in a crash (I swerved to avoid a UPS van and lost control) that turned out to more serious than I thought at first, but I had neglected to get names and contact info for the driver and the couple people on the sidwalk who were nearby -- I thought I had simply been scratched and bruised, so just rode away afterward. I ended up having a broken elbow that needed a couple months of physical therapy, and I had to cover the cost myself. Most important: play it safe. Get yourself checked out by a medical professional so that you can be certain you're okay.
Although you eluded to it in the first paragraph, the first step needs to be to secure the scene. That is, instead of all the riders staring at (and helping) the injured cyclists, someone needs to be assigned the duty of watching for and directly traffic. Even when the injured cyclist is taken off the roadway, several cyclists and their bikes often remain on the roadway.
Another cyclist that was stopped on the side of the bike path moved his bike in front of me at the last second. I was traveling at 21mph when I hit him. I landed on my right side, and my head. I found out in the ER that my helmet cracked from the ear to the top. The paramedics never checked my eyes or head. My wife, being a nurse, insisted to the ER doctor that they do a head scan. Turns out I had a concussion, fractured ribs, and bad bruises. If you see a cyclist go down, insist to the emergency team to check him or her out.