5 Sep 2017

First Aid Tips

Cycling is as fun and healthy a sport as you can get, but sometimes it all goes wrong and we get to enjoy what the aircraft industry coolly calls an ‘uncontrolled descent into terrain.’ While you can’t beat a professional first aid course, the following tips can make all the difference if you encounter a fallen rider – or become one yourself.

1. Carry a kit

Either get one of the many pre-packed kits available in camping shops and chemists, or create one yourself. You should include dressings of various sizes, sodium chloride for cleaning wounds, triangular bandages (they work as slings too) and a foil space blanket.

2. Stay calm

Dealing with an injured person – friend or stranger – can be traumatic, but your calm response will help them deal with their own shock. Conversely, a panicky response can panic them.

3. Assess the injuries

If it’s more than just cuts and bruises, alert the emergency services. First check that the rider is breathing, and if they’re conscious whether they’re fully conscious – look for slurred speech, sleepiness, unequally dilated pupils or confusion. Also check if they’re suffering neck, back, stomach or pelvic pain. If any of these are evident, keep the rider still and call for an ambulance.

4. Stop any bleeding

Wash out cuts with sodium chloride (it’s sterile), and wet the inside of the bandage too. Press the bandage firmly onto the wound. Beware of overtightening bandages; with arms and legs, pinch a finger or toenail for five seconds to check. If the nail takes more than two seconds to go pink again, blood flow is constricted and you should slightly loosen the bandage.

5. Keep them still

Don’t move the fallen rider unless you have to. If you suspect any likelihood of spine, neck or head damage, and/or they’re unconscious, keep them where they are unless a casualty is in imminent danger of further injury because of where they’re positioned.

If necessary to open the airway, gently lift their chin while supporting either side of their head in line with neck and spine.

If they’re unconscious and you’re sure that their neck/back is uninjured, it’s best to roll them into the recovery position. This will keep their airway clear and stop them choking. To put someone in the recovery position, practise this routine so it’s easy to do in the event you need to:

-Kneel alongside. You’re going to roll them towards you.

-Straighten their legs.

-Lift their chin to open their airway.

-Put the forearm nearest you parallel to their body, with their hand alongside their head. The elbow will be bent.

-Pick up the hand furthest away and, with your palm against theirs, press the back of their hand to their opposite cheek – the one nearest you. Keep your hand there to guide and support their head as you roll them.

-Pick up the opposite knee, pulling it towards the sky so their foot slides up and ends flat on the floor, naturally supporting the bent leg.

-Pulling that knee towards you, use the leg as a lever to gently roll the person onto their side.

-Once on their side, unbend the knee so their lower leg and foot lie on the floor.

-Carefully tilt the head back again to open the airway.

If the rider’s conscious, injuries still need to be immobilized to protect them from further damage – slings and splints are ideal with broken bones. Pain and shock can also increase the heart rate, so have the rider lay still, and help support them if necessary. Elevate any limb that’s bleeding and, again, aim to stop it as soon as possible.

If the injuries are serious, wherever you are, never be afraid to call the emergency services as soon as possible – but, if at all possible, never leave the casualty unattended, so you’ll need the fully-charged mobile that you kept in a waterproof bag in your pack. Make sure you know where you are – the name and number of the road and the nearest intersection, any building names/numbers or can reference any distinct landmarks to help the emergency services locate you.