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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Motorcyclists 'Rider Alert Cards' are a benefit to responders

Richmond Ambulance Authority and Bon Secours Virginia Health System, in partnership with Motorcycle Virginia, have launched a new program designed to save the lives of injured motorcyclists. According to officials, the program provides free identification data cards that will help first responders provide rapid and accurate medical assistance to riders involved in accidents.

I've been a motorcycle rider for most of my adult life, and there is this simple axiom: there are two types of motorcycle riders.

Those who have crashed, and those who will crash.

I had the misfortune of broad siding a minivan some time back. Making matters worse, bystanders called EMS and Fire, which meant that my coworkers were responding to my aid. Hoorah. I did sustain a few injuries, but I did what every rider does — I took off my helmet, gloves, and riding jacket 'cause I didn't want to them cut off! A bit ironic, but it's true that the equipment does become expensive, and it’s hard to replace.

Since then, riding gear has gotten much more sophisticated — back sliders, knee and elbow protectors, and fabrics that resist tears and abrasions. The costs are better too — after a taking a hiatus from riding, I recently got back on a bike and found that I could get much better gear for less money than what I had paid for back in the 80s. Still, I cringe when I see riders wearing sneakers, flip flops, high heels (!), tank tops and tiny lids that barely make it past DOT standards. Of course, it seems that the less they wear, the more reckless their riding behavior. This of course, brings to mind another axiom in EMS:

If it wasn't for alcohol, tobacco, and human nature to do truly stupid things, we'd be out of a job.

So, having essentially a med-alert tag on two wheels isn't a bad idea. It sounds like some EMS folks who ride in Virginia have similar feelings about fellow riders. In the event that the rider is unresponsive after an incident, having some critical pieces of information immediately available will save a lot of time and reduce the risk of inadvertently harming the patient during treatment.

One last thing — if you haven't removed a motorcycle helmet from a crash victim recently, go practice. It isn't easy. Courses like PHTLS and ITLS can teach you how to do it. We thank you for doing so.

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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