helmet on or off???

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Meredith, Aug 1, 2001.

  1. Meredith

    Meredith n00b

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    The ON just published a really short (and not very useful) article on what to do if you are with or find someone who's just had a serious crash. The thing I am continuing to wonder about is this helmet on/off question. These people said leave it on unless the person is not breathing. I understand the spinal/head injury argument for leaving it on. I was living in Germany 1999-2000 and took a skills/safety course and this was one of the things we talked about. I was surprised when their recommendation was to take the helmet off. The reason is that if the wreck was at all severe, the person will go into shock and probably puke, and with the helmet on would most likely suffocate (from the vomit) and die that way. With the helmet off this would be an easier problem to deal with.
    The instructor said that this is the more likely scenario. I don't know if this was based on any statistics, but if so they would reflect crashes with adequate safetey gear (because of education and laws over there) and might be more relevant for a population that tends to wear the stuff (whereas the US population tends to take advantage of the freedom to be an idiot).
    They demonstrated a way (needing two people) to remove a helmet while creating the least disturbance possible to the spine. If there has been no injury to the spine this would not be a real issue, but if there were, one would not want to risk further damage or complications.
    I am wondering whether anyone (knows anyone who) has more info on this, or if someone whose job it is to know that kind of stuff might share some thoughts.
    (Apologies for going slightly off topic and simultaneously bringing up a potential downside of the pursuit of adventure.)
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  2. Baldy

    Baldy Founder of ADV Administrator

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    Wow, what an important topic. When I wore a Schuberth helmet, I wondered if a paramedic would know how to get if off, because it closed up underneath my chin and the latch was non-obvious. And if I were to barf in it, it sure didn't seem like the stuff would drain out.

    I've always heard the priority is (1) check for breathing because a biker can be gone in two minutes if they can't breath; (2) check bleeding; (3) spinal injuries. So you leave the helmet on if you can ascertain that the fallen rider continues to breath okay.

    Here's the most sensible write-up I've found, but if someone else has others I'd love to see them:

    Motorcycle First Aid

    Baldy
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  3. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

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    Taking the helmet off because the injured party *might* vomit is (IMO) akin to giving them a tracheotomy because their throat *might* swell up and they *might* choke.

    Unless they are actually vomiting, or feeling severely nauseous, then don't worry about it until it happens. I have personally been in 7 car wrecks, 3 bike wrecks and several serious bicycle accidents, and never vomitted during these episodes, even though I was in shock in a few of them and had concussions.

    I have also been at a number of injury incidents, including one where a small boy had his skull fractured by running between a truck and the trialer it was pulling - you could actually see his brain. Vomitting is not necessarily a given, and IMO such advice is unwarranted, maybe even irresponsible - the kind of thing you would expect to hear from someone who doesn't know any better.

    It is also a good way to get sued, paralyze someone, or even kill them. I could just imagine defending myself in court in such a case - no thanks, the helmet stays on unless I have a good reason to take it off, or someone with more knowledge/experience/authority says to take it off.

    And yes, I spent 4 years in the Coast Guard doing search and rescue, and I have a little training in this, not as much as a Paramedic or EMT, but enough to know to be careful in such situations.

    FWIW,
    LCB
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  4. jcolombo

    jcolombo Lurking Moderator

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    "I have personally been in 7 car wrecks, 3 bike wrecks and several serious bicycle accidents, and never vomitted during these episodes"...

    Hmmm. Where have you been riding/driving? Are you sponsered by any protective gear folks yet? :thwak
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  5. fish

    fish Banned

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    Note to self: don't ride or drive anywhere near lauren :eek:
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  6. fish

    fish Banned

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    The good Dr. Flash Gordon MD sez:

    hmmm. I always thought intubation could make you go blind or grow hair on your palms or something.:wink:
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  7. jocflier

    jocflier Dammit, that hurt... Supporter

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    Hey all;

    Here is what i was always told to do..Do not ever remove the helmet unless you have to do CPR..If not; hold the person head as still as you can and if the person is awake try to not let them remove there helmet untill someone can get there and put a c-coller on them..

    As far as getting sued..There is a law here in California called "the good samaritan law"..which means if you are trying to help someone in a bad way..(the car was on fire and you broke there arm getting them out) you can not be sued..(yea i know..)but the law is on the books..

    When i was younger and racing, we were required to put our blood type on our helmet when racing.Now i think they can find out right away what your blood type is..

    Rick
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  8. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

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    Most of my car wrecks were when I was young and foolish, two were my fault (driving too fast for the conditions), the rest were not, including the bus that pulled in front of me, the car that pulled in front of me and the three times I was hit from behind (one of which I was not even driving).

    The bicycle wrecks were my stupidity; yanking on the front brake and doing an endo, taking a corner too fast and falling down, and so on - I used to ride bicycles like I now ride bikes - rather fast.

    The bike wrecks were all my fault and the last two were in the last 5 years.

    I am basically a very safe driver now, but watch out when I am riding.
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  9. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

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    My understanding of this law (exists in all 50 states and many foreign countries) is that it provides an affirmative defense in a lawsuit *if* you do not do something that is totally negligent, do not do something you are not trained to do (such as a tracheotomomy), but do what a reasonable person would do in the circumstances.

    Taking a helmet off a rider, especially if you have been advised not to unless absolutely necessary, seems to me (I am not a lawyer, much less a personal injury lawyer) to be right on the edge of negligence.

    If on the other hand you have records (preferably written) that show some authoritative training where they advised you to always take off the helmet, that would be a decent defense (IMO).

    BTW, you can be sued for anything, anytime, by anyone - these laws do not prevent that - they just offer a defense in court. You will still have to hire a lawyer, pay that lawyer, go to court, and risk loosing your shirt.

    Either way - lawsuit or not - I think it is a bad idea to do something with so much potential for serious injury, just because something untoward has a slight chance of happening in the future.

    FWIW,
    LCB
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  10. Myles Whitfield

    Myles Whitfield Studly Moderator

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    I'm with Flash on this one.

    If the helmet has got to go it has got to go....The basics of the Primary Survey-Airway,Breathing/Bleeding,Circulation.

    EMS providers are advised to stabilize the head and spine without removing the helmet-I wear a flip front Schuberth Concept for just this reason. You want access to my airway? Push the red button in front of the sticker that says "Airway Access".

    Good Sam covers you as long as you act in reasonable and prudent manner, however, the more you know the less it covers you as the definition of reasonable and prudent becomes narrower.
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  11. fish

    fish Banned

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    Beer. Don't forget beer. Helmet must be removed to administer beer. Unless you got one o dem funny flipemup deals. I tell you what...

    Folks walkin around with them shubertos with the chin thing flipped up look like bishops. it's damn funny, and i hope more people do this, cuz i bust a gut every time i see one.

    Me? I wear an Arai Signet-GT fullface. My face ain't that purty now, and I can't afford to make it any uglier by faceplanting *thru* a flipemup job. Knowmean?
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  12. Myles Whitfield

    Myles Whitfield Studly Moderator

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    well mebbe you could just try drinkin' beer through a straw-duh....don't use a camelback, though-gets too warm unless you drink it real fast and then welll....you know....

    Bishop Myles
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  13. Meredith

    Meredith n00b

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    And in that case you better have your helmet on... although after too many the puke factor would mean it should be off.
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  14. Baldy

    Baldy Founder of ADV Administrator

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    When I got to work this morning, they were cleaning up the mess from a horrible sportbike death that blocked the driveway to our parking lot. Red & white 96ish Suzuki.

    A couple of our guys who saw the scene said the paramedics removed the helmet immediately. But they slipped the body into a body bag shortly thereafter, so who knows what they were seeing.

    Looking at the scene, my best guess is he was really moving down Walsh Ave, a four-lane, when a car entered Walsh from a side road and he lost control trying to avoid them. The bike ran over a curb, tumbled through trees, and hit a cement wall.

    Gross.

    Baldy
    #14