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Why don’t medics rush at a crash scene?

Road safety crash accident motorcycle focus bleeding ambulance ride paramedic
Most of the images in this article are from the ARRB seminar

If you’ve ever been a witness at a motorcycle crash scene you may have noticed that medics (ambulance officers and paramedics) do not seem to be in any rush.

I was at the scene of a crash on Abercrombie Rd near Obern, NSW, and several riders were anxious and expressed concern because the first responders did not seem to be in any hurry.

Some other riders have also complained that nurses and hospital staff are sometimes flippant about injured riders who “drain their resources”. Read about the concerns of a safety expert.

It’s not because medics believe all motorcyclists have a death wish and don’t deserve immediate attention.

There are several very good reasons for the calm and almost painstakingly slow attitude of first responders at a crash scene.

Most American cop shows depict medics rushing to a crash scene, but that is not how it is in real life.Ambulance ride paramedic crash accident medics

Why medics don’t rush:

  • A rushing paramedic could trip and hurt themselves and/or break vital medical equipment;
  • It can lead to making the wrong decision in a highly stressful situation;
  • The sight of a rushing medic can create panic not only in the crash victims, but also bystanders;
  • It can cause the victim’s pulse to beat faster, expelling more blood than is necessary and leading to other conditions such as heart attack; and
  • It can cause bystanders to make rash decisions such as stepping out in front of passing traffic.

If you are ever at a motorcycle accident scene, the best advice is to stay clam, keep others calm and let the professionals do their job.

Click here to find out what you should do after a minor motorcycle crash.

Road safety crash accident motorcycle scam

First Bike on the Scene

Michael Beak from First Bike on the Scene crash scene training says he believes that if he rushes at a crash scene “people could think things are a lot worse than they may be” .

“One of our first priorities is to bring calm to chaos,” he says.

“Some of my more experienced colleagues and I even like to crack jokes with patients (where appropriate of course) and some think we are not talking it seriously,” he says.

“But personally if I were a patient and the para was cracking jokes with me it would reassure me I’m not about to die.”First Bike on the Scene Australia paramedic Michael Beak

Michael is an Army Reserve Combat Paramedic of 10 years, operational paramedic for 25 years, has been teaching first aid for almost 30 years and is a Public Information Officer with the Rural Fire Service. He’s also a VFR750F rider!

“My advice to any first-care provider is to be slow and methodical,” he says.

“I apply the old saying ‘slow is smooth and smooth is fast’. It works for riding motorcycles and it works for attending a crash scene.”

Michael says it is a common misbelief that paramedics attend traumatic cases every shift.

“So sometimes when they arrive on scene and appear to be slow off the mark, they may be just taking a breath, having a ‘mental cigarette’, taking in the scene and working out the best plan of attack before just blundering in,” he says.

“To the observer, it may appear that we are not rushing to crashed riders, but we are doing a rapid scene size-up on arrival.”

  1. As a pedestrian I was struck by a speeding car. The quiet, smiling, methodical paramedics were so reassuring.
    Years later I was one of the first to arrive at an accident scene and I emulated what those paramedics had done. The driver had a seriously broken leg. My husband and I were checking out the car to see that it was safe so we would not need to move the driver. My husband is a mechanic by trade.
    Two women arrived ignored our presence announced they were nurses and insisted he had to be removed from the vehicle before it blew up. It was not going to blow up.
    They enlisted the help of two other bystanders to lift him out of the vehicle before splinting his leg. His leg visibly grew several inches in length as it dangled.
    They were all hurried and panicked.
    The driver was an overworked doctor who fell asleep at the wheel on his way to his new hospital job.
    My husband and I left the scene once the ambos arrived.

  2. Now knowing that they are just being ‘reassuring’ and I may be about to die is not very reassuring

  3. I live near Newcastle (New South Wales. Australia) and I have been the Motorcyclist that had a “Car meets Bike incident” (NOT ACCIDENT, as the 19year old should have seen me before she turned across my path of advance).
    While it did take a while for the ambulance to arrive on the scene and as I remember it they worked with a sense of urgency and not in a mad rushed sort of way.

    1. It’s time for us motorcyclists to stop blaming drivers for turning across us. The fact is NO driver deliberately turns across a motorcyclist so as to cause an accident. It’s no use saying “they should have seen me”…they DIDN’T. It’s very easy to see “through” a motorcycle to the large vehicles behind. You have to get in their face. You have to be so visible they simply can’t miss you. Put your high beam on. Wear flouro gear. Buy a bright coloured bike. Weave a little as you approach what looks like a dodgy situation. Far too many riders still riding around on black bikes in black clothing with dim headlights. Again, no driver deliberately turns across us. We have to accept that for whatever reason, they didn’t “see” us. GET IN THEIR FACE!! Or take a trip in an ambulance. Our choice…

      1. your view is acceptable with one exception, it is not just upto motorcyclist who need to take responsibility. It is high time motorist not just look once but two or three times before pulling out in front of anyone. Motorists always seem to believe they have every right to just pull out in front of anyone. Road safety is more than a one way street. Far too many motorists always say “they never saw the Motorcylist” that is because they never actually used their eyes and looked. So stop being so high and mighty

  4. I’ve been a Paramedic for 25 years and a motorcyclist all my life. I have had complaints from patients that I show no understanding or concerns for the injured because I act so calm. That calm presentation is from my knowledge base and skills, and an ability to deal with stressful situations and emotional people. It’s true, slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

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