Downed Riders

In an emergency situation, it’s easy to act fast without thinking.


Calmly executed training saves  more lives than panic stricken actions.

Prepare yourself for the worst, and hope for the best. In the event of a serious injury, there are some things you need to do.

  • STAY CALM – Panicking will make the situation much worse, and likely hinder you from remembering your vital first aid training.
  • CALL FOR HELP – Sometimes as riders, we find ourselves out of contact, and we’ll address that. But if you can call help, this is a priority.
  • ASSESS THE ENVIRONMENT – Make sure when tending to a downed rider that you are both out of danger. If a rider is down on a trail, place your bike and helmet near the trail before you, and do your best to stay visible so oncoming riders are alerted of your presence on the trail. DO NOT MOVE A DOWN RIDER. If it is unsafe to deliver first aid care, clear the unsafe area and try to find help. It will feel wrong to leave, but rescuing one injured rider is better than two.
  • ASSESS THE RIDER – If it is safe to do so, assess the down rider. Ask the rider is he/she is okay. Note any wounds bleeding heavily that need to be addressed. If the rider is unresponsive, you can get a lot of information rather quickly with a little training. Also, if a rider is in a life or death situation, being familiar with CPR could be the life saving difference. I’ve found it as easy to remember as the ABC’s.
  • Airway. Breathing. Circulation. Attached below is the technique summarized. Take note that the method used to open the airway varies, depending on if there are suspected spinal injuries.

  • Most CPR courses teach this method, and how to execute the primary assessment, also know as the ABC’s assessment. Whether you are an athlete, or not, I recommend practicing and becoming certified in CPR and First Aid, just in case.

*Note: If you are trained in CPR/First Aid you will know at this point how you need to proceed. If you are not, or you are unable to deliver first aid, there’s still some things you can do to help, and some things to remember.

Some Reminders:

  • Seek medical treatment as soon as possible after an accident.
  • Remember an unconscious rider is likely concussed. If you leave and they regain consciousness, in shock and confused, they may wander from the crash site in an effort to seek help. If you must abandon a rider, be sure to find a way to let them know that you have left to seek help and that they need to stay put.
  • Do not get lost looking for help. Be extra vigilant to mark your path and the crash site so recovery of the rider is not hindered by bad directions. If you don’t know where to look, don’t go wander. You’re better off trying to signal help from the crash site.
  • Take care of yourself. God forbid this turn into a drawn out survival mission, rather than a sick day of riding, you will need to do what you can to keep your strength and senses. Hopefully if you are on a ride with risks such as getting lost, you will be better prepared for this type of an occurrence.
  • Always let someone know where you’re going and how long you should be gone. They cant start looking if they don’t know you’re stuck. This is the number one way to prevent the loss of life in a rescue situation.
  • If there is a projectile stuck into the rider such as a handlebar or tree branch, DO NOT REMOVE.
  • It is terrifying to see someone begin having convulsive seizures. Sometimes, a head injury can cause these seizures. Do not attempt to restrain the person. Instead make the area safe, and wait it out. Most seizures resolve themselves in 5 minutes or less.
  • If there is substantial bleeding, apply significant pressure for 20 minutes to try to get the bleeding to stop. If there is an object in the wound, wrap the bandage around it like a donut to apply pressure, do not apply pressure to the foreign object. If the bleeding is still uncontrollable, a tourniquet may be required, but can lead to amputation if not applied correctly or if applied for too long. Use a tourniquet as a last resort only.
  • If you are having trouble maintaining an open airway, move the rider into the recovery position. Do your best to keep the spine straight and make small slow movements, while feeling for resistance, if you suspect a spinal injury.
  • In any crash, big or small, if the rider is unconscious, assume spinal injury and do your best to prevent moving the spine.

I’ve added some helpful videos below so you can familiarize yourself with some first aid techniques that might be useful to you one day. Thank you to the creators of these videos for spreading awareness and helping prevent the loss of life in an accident. Please enjoy.

CPR Refresher Course < 10 mins
2 Person Helmet Removal – 2 mins
Solo Helmet Removal – Worst Case Scenario – 3 mins
Management of Unconscious Athlete While Assuming Spinal Injury – 2 mins
Turning an Unconscious Person – 1 min
First Aid for Seizures – 2 mins

Disclaimer:  This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. Ride Safe Friends.

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