The Rider Alert motorcycle-safety program was launched in Richmond, Virginia, on April 12, 2011. The program, designed to help save lives, provides free identification data cards that will help first responders provide rapid and accurate medical assistance to motorcyclists involved in serious accidents.
Rider Alert cards are placed inside riders’ helmets and contain vital, life-saving information, emergency contact and any important medical history. When first responders arrive on the scene of a motorcycle crash, a one-inch, round sticker on the outside of the helmet will indicate that the biker has the Rider Alert card. The sticker also warns bystanders not to remove the helmet, which could prevent further injury.
This program was started by the Richmond Ambulance Authority and Bon Secours Virginia Health System in partnership with Motorcycle Virginia! and was the first of its kind in the United States. Rider Alert has expanded across the US, with New York being the second state to launch the program. The Virginia Rider Alert Team also assisted organizations from Delaware, Texas and Kentucky in developing the program.
The concept of the Rider Alert Card is to place Next of Kin and contact details inside a motorcyclist’s crash helmet to provide details to attending emergency services and or Emergency Department staff when a rider cannot communicate with first responders and beyond.
The idea came originally from the United Kingdom, where it began as a small project to distribute rider information cards in the county of Essex. The program’s popularity soon meant that cards were available to riders across England and Scotland including the world famous road races at the Isle of Man TT. Since then, approximately 350,000 “CRASH Cards,” as they are known in the UK, have been distributed.
Following initial meetings with the former Governor’s Motorcycle Advisory Council, (now “Motorcycle Virginia”) formal support and endorsement was offered to the evolving project. Generous sponsorship from Bon Secours Virginia Health System and the re-formed Motorcycle Virginia allowed the project to advance through the concept and design stages to its launch in April 2011. With continued support of the original sponsors a total of 70,000 Rider Alert Cards have been produced. In June 2011, Rider Alert was delighted to welcome AAA Mid Atlantic as a sponsor and their initial 5000 card set was able to be distributed to areas in North, South and Western Virginia that had not been included in the original card roll out. At the Time of Writing, PHI Helicopters, Geico and The Public Safety Agencies of Harrisonburg, Va have also signed up as sponsorship partners.
The wording on the decal is aimed at passersby and lay people who may, in an attempt to help the situation try and force a helmet off the riders head after the ‘unscheduled dismount’. Helmet removal is in fact a two person skill for medical providers who have been trained in Pre Hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS). The wording therefore should assist with the spinal management of the rider and keep the helmet in place until a professionally trained person can safely remove it.
The card is manufactured on a waterproof type product and therefore a normal ball point pen is all that is needed to write on the card as it ‘engraves’ the writing in the card. A waterproof style pen leaves a layer on the surface of the card and over time ‘sands’ itself off, so we advise against that.
We at Rider Alert believe you can never be safe enough and the more ways a rider can be identified in their moment of emergency need the better. What the medics of Rider Alert do know however, is that the ‘mechanism of injury’ that a rider suffers and the forces at work against both rider and any equipment that may be carried could be excessive. The simplicity of the card and the information it contains may survive those impacts and be of use to the attending responder. The program is also free to the user, no registration is required or personal or medical details need be logged in any databases.
The Rider Alert Program was initially developed for roll out in Virginia (and eventually beyond). The viral nature of the internet and news outlets, however, accelerated the program to the point that the Rider Alert team are now talking to many agencies across the USA and Canada in developing their own programs under the Rider Alert banner. In May 2011, Rider Alert New York was launched.
The key to success of the Program rests in one key area….Sponsorship! There is no state or federal funding for the program in Virginia or indeed elsewhere, and significant sponsorship has been received to allow the program to progress.
The Rider Alert Team is currently seeking further sponsors both locally and nationally to continue the safety crusade. The key cost is the print production of cards and (given the waterproof nature of the paper) a run of 5000 Cards costs just under $2000. The print cost becomes cheaper as volume increases.
The Rider Alert team is able to facilitate a print run, along with the addition of local sponsor logos along the bottom white strip and top right hand corner of the cards.
As we have discovered, the card is relatively easy to produce and distribute, but local sponsorship is essential to keep the program rolling. It will provide many benefits to rider safety and aid responding emergency providers.
The answer is to continue as your training and qualifications allow. First Responders and beyond should continue to act to the limit of their protocols and training for dealing with helmets at all times(in determining whether airway management requires the helmet be removed on scene or keeping it in place until the arrival of the patient at the Emergency Department).
Below is the extract from NAEMT PHTLS Seventh Edition page 288&289, covering helmet removal procedures. The message to EMS providers remains clear however, act within stated protocols, the Rider Alert Card provides additional information at the point the helmet is professionally and appropriately removed.
NAEMT PHTLS Seventh Edition page 288&289 for helmet removal procedures…
Patients who are wearing full-face helmets must have the helmet removed early in the assessment process. This provides immediate access for the pre-hospital care provider to assess and manage a patient’s airway and ventilator status. Helmet removal ensures that hidden bleeding is not occurring into the posterior helmet and allows the provider to move the head (from the flexed position caused by large helmets) into neutral alignment. It also permits complete assessment of the head and neck in the secondary survey and facilitates spinal immobilization when indicated. The pre-hospital care provider explains to the patient what will occur. If the patient verbalizes that the provider should not remove the helmet, the provider explains that properly trained personnel can remove it by protecting the patient’s spine. Two providers are required for this maneuver.
1 – One provider takes position above the patient’s head. With palms pressed on the sides of the helmet and fingertips curled over the lower margin, the first provider stabilizes the helmet, head, and neck in as close to a neutral in-line position as the helmet allows. A second provider kneels at the side of the patient, opens or removes the face shield if needed, remove eyeglasses if present, and unfastens or cuts the chin strap.
2 – The patient’s mandible is grasped between the thumb and the first two fingers at the angle of the mandible. The other hand is placed under the patient’s neck on the occiput of the skull to take control of manual stabilization. The provider’s forearms should be resting on the floor or ground or on the provider’s thigh for additional support.
3 – The first provider pulls the sides of the helmet slightly apart, away from the patient’s head, and rotates the helmet with up-and-down rocking motions while pulling it off of the patient’s head. Movement of the helmet is low and deliberate. The provider takes cares as the helmet clears the patient’s nose.
4 – Once the helmet is removed, padding should be placed behind the patient’s head to maintain a neutral in-line position. Manual stabilization is maintained, and a properly sized cervical collar is placed on the patient.
Note – Two key elements are involved in helmet removal, as follows:
1. While one provider maintains manual stabilization of the patient’s head and neck, the other provider moves. At no time should both providers be moving their hands.
2. The provider rotates the helmet in different directions, first to clear the patient’s nose and then to clear the back of the patient’s head.