Ride Safe and Know What to Do in the Case of an Accident

DSC_0028Yesterday, I really needed to get out on the bike for a few miles to decompress. I left the house around 12:25 and rode to the end of the B&A trail. The weather was perfect, and I mean perfect. It was about 74F when I left the house and I was able to ride in short sleeves. There are going to be few days like this in the coming months.

Even in the middle of the day, the sun is low enough this time of year for everything to be cast in beautiful soft light. The leaves on the trees are still golden, orange and in some places red here in Severna Park. What more could I ask for?

I got to the end of the trail and turned around quickly to head home. (It was the middle of the work day and I did have some business that needed some attention.) As I peddled home, I marveled at the number of people who were out on the trail. The warm weather brought more than a few people out and I passed all kinds of cyclists — folks in spandex, folks not in spandex, folks on high-end bikes, commuters and hybrids, old skool schwins, and even maybe a huffy with a rusty chain. In my view of the world, all these folks are welcome on the trail.

As I neared the bridge over Round Bay road, I noticed someone riding ahead of me in jeans and a button down shirt on an older “ten-speed” style bike. As I moved over to the left, I was a good 75 yards behind the rider. Suddenly, he went down on the edge of the trail. He was separated from his bike, and he was under the split rail fence that borders the trail and the steep hill to the right. Instinctively I put on my breaks.

When I got to him, Paul appeared to be having a seizure. As he was coming to, I was dialing 911. My next call was to his wife, where I left voicemail. I kept asked him not to move and got some more information including his age for the dispatcher. Within 20 minutes the Ambulance had shown up and the medics were taking care of him. I stayed on the scene in case I could offer any details about his condition or the events to the medics. As they took him away, I was relieved to know that he was in good hands.

Today, I got a call from Paul’s wife thanking me for my efforts and help. She told me that he had suffered a broken collar-bone, and a few broken ribs, as well as a concussion. It could have been a lot worse.

Just the other day, there was a discussion on a listserv for the local peloton about what to do in the case of an accident. I was glad to have read that list of items. I’m including (blatantly¬†stealing) them here, for reference.

  1. To prevent secondary injury, assess traffic, assign someone to ensure cars/trucks get around everyone in the group.
  2. Get all the people and bikes out of the way. Leave lights flashing.
  3. Resist the urge to help an injured rider get up. Leave him there until the fog has cleared and he’s ready.
  4. Look for injuries and decide quickly if it’s necessary to call 911 or a spouse/SO.
  5. Know the signs of a concussion, ask questions, inspect the helmet.
  6. Don’t let the injured convince you they are fine.
  7. Others not responsible for watching traffic should check the bike (ensure it’s ride-able) and collect stuff that fell off.
  8. Watch them closely for the next several miles, especially if riding in traffic.
  9. If you make the call to a friend or spouse, be careful what you say. Not being on scene, they often assume the worst.

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