Centre for Road Safety

Quick response saves lives

For seriously injured motorcycle riders, first aid can be the difference between survival and death until emergency medical help arrives. Motorcycle riders often suffer life threatening injuries, including those to the head, neck and spine. They can also lose a lot of blood, have severe burns or be unconsciousness.

Helmets

A full-faced helmet should only be removed if the injured rider does not have a clear airway and cannot breathe. Mostly, the helmet should remain in place unless the rider removes it.

When an injured rider needs expired air resuscitation and is wearing a full-faced helmet, the helmet must be removed by at least two people. The first person must ensure that the head and neck are stabilised and supported to avoid any further injuries. The second person must carefully remove the helmet in a way that minimises all movement to the head and neck. Once the helmet has been removed, first aiders can perform resuscitation.

Bleeding

Bleeding wounds can be hidden from view or disguised by riding leathers. Often the puncture made in the leathers does not show the severity of a wound. It is vital that leathers be removed from the wound. They may need to be torn or cut away with shears, scissors or a knife.

Stop any bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound with bandages or clothing. If possible, elevate the bleeding part above the level of the chest and keep the injured person as still as possible. Pack clothing and equipment around them to prevent movement to the spine and any broken bones.

Severe burns

Extreme heat from exhausts and engine parts can be conducted and contained in leathers, burning trapped riders. Expose the burn and cool it with running water until the affected area returns to a normal temperature.

Remove clothing if possible from the burnt area. If it is stuck, cut around it; don’t attempt to pull it off. Remove jewellery to prevent restricting circulation caused by swelling. Protect the burnt area with a sterile or non-stick dressing or closely woven material.

St John Ambulance DRSABCD action plan

D: Danger
Check the area is safe for you, others and the injured person.
R: Response
Check the injured person for a response. Squeeze their shoulders and ask their name.
S: Send for help
Call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance or ask another person to call.
A: Airway
Open mouth – if foreign material is present, place in the recovery position and clear airway with fingers. When rolling onto their side, be aware that their neck may be injured and needs to be stabilised while they are rolled.
B: Breathing
Check for breathing – look, listen and feel.
C: CPR
Start CPR at the rate of 30 chest compressions to two breaths. Continue CPR until help arrives or patient recovers.
D: Defibrillation
Apply defibrillator if available and follow voice prompts.

St John Ambulance NSW also conducts motorcycle training and provides first aid training with specialised first aid kits available for motorcyclists.

Useful contacts

  • Police and other emergency services: Triple Zero (000)
  • Report an incident or road conditions by phoning 131 700
  • Roads and Maritime Services rider training sessions: 13 22 13 (8.30am to 5pm Mon-Fri and 8.30am to noon Sat)
  • St John Ambulance NSW: 1300 360 455