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ADV ProductsMotorcycle Safety GearMake Your ADV Rides Safer With These First Aid Basics

Make Your ADV Rides Safer With These First Aid Basics

Being prepared for when your adventure ride takes a turn for the worse.

Published on 07.08.2014

Often when we plan motorcycle trips, our main focus is on the routes we will take, where we will stay and the sights we will see. We purchase good protective gear, perfect our riding technique and stay on top of maintenance to help ensure a successful journey. But one area that commonly gets neglected is emergency preparedness. While most trips will be trouble free, at some point you will probably encounter an injury or medical emergency where knowledge of first aid basics will be helpful.

When an accident occurs in a remote or hard to access area, your goal is to help an injured rider get back on their way or provide assistance until they can receive professional medical attention. Not everyone has the luxury of riding with a medical professional in their group, but you can improve safety dramatically with some basic training and the right tools.

We list a few tips here that will improve your ability to assist a downed rider. These first aid basics can be used by anyone and don’t require advanced medical training. We also emphasize small, light-weight first aid gear that can be easily carried on an Adventure Bike.


First Aid Training

First Aid Training

Affordable first aid classes are easy to find in most areas. (Courtesy American Red Cross)

One of the best investments you can make for yourself and your riding buddies is a First Aid class. There is no worse feeling than to be at the site of an accident with no ability to help a friend in need. When you have been trained in first aid basics, you will better understand when and what items to use in your first aid kit for different types of emergencies. You will also have a better understanding of what NOT to do in certain situations that could potentially cause more harm to an injured rider. 

First aid training courses are usually easy to find and affordable. Try to find courses that focus on wilderness trauma and first responder training. You can check with your local Red Cross chapter or search online for reputable training programs available in your area.

First Aid Kit

One of the things you need to decide is how much first aid gear you are willing to carry and where you plan to store it. If someone you are riding with has an accident, it is only natural to hop off your bike and run to their assistance. Carrying a first aid kit on your body can save valuable time. A basic first aid kit can fit inside most backpacks or hydration packs, and will include most of the common items you need.

On longer trips with less technical riding, you may find it more comfortable to carry your first aid kit supplies on your bike. Just make sure to store your kit in a place that is easy to get to, so you don’t waste time fumbling through your luggage in an emergency.

The Adventure Medical Kits company offers a variety of small, light-weight first aid kits. A good starting point for Adventure Riders is the Day Tripper Kit. The Day Tripper Kit is small and inexpensive, yet contains most of the important items you need. 

You should also consider adding a few specialized items to your first aid kit. For additional safety, carry the Adventure Medical Kits’ Trauma Kit as well. The Trauma Kit offers a blood clotting sponge and a tourniquet anyone can use to stop bleeding safely.

Another useful first aid device is the SAM Splint. A SAM Splint secured with flexible cohesive bandages can be used to immobilize an injured limb until professional medical treatment can be provided. 

The Israeli Emergency Bandage is another device that can be used to stop bleeding. It is especially effective for large open wounds. It’s also an inexpensive bandage that doesn’t take up a lot of space.

A set of small medical shears will allow you to cut through clothing around an injury and Instant disposable ice packs are also nice to help reduce swelling and pain.

What you decide to bring is always a personal choice, but these basic first aid supplies are a good start. Always make sure to read instructions carefully and it’s a good idea to practice these medical treatments before embarking on your trip.

Emergency GPS Messenger

GPS Emergency Messaging Devices like the SPOT, Delorme InReach or a PLB (Personal Locator Beacons), allow you to send an SOS message through satellites to emergency response teams nearly anywhere in the world. Always carry these devices on your body so that you can still send a message even if you are separated from your bike. It is also a good idea to let your friends know where you carry your emergency messaging device and how to send an SOS message.

GPS Emergency Communicator devices are great tools to have in the event of an accident, but you shouldn’t rely on them solely for support in an emergency. If you have a good first aid kit and you are trained in first aid basics, you can provide life saving assistance much faster.

If you are able to get an injured rider back on their bike, you could potentially avoid an expensive ambulance ride or airlift to the hospital. It’s always nice to have options though and a GPS Messenger is a nice safety net to have when the situation goes beyond what you are able to handle.

first aid kit and spot
Carrying a Day Tripper first aid kit, SAM splint, cohesive bandages, Israeli bandage and a SPOT can greatly improve your safety without taking up a lot of space. (Courtesy Chad Berger)

Proper Planning

When you are planning a trip, take a little extra time to make a list of hospitals along your route. Carry important phone numbers and addresses with you and set up waypoint coordinates of medical facilities on your GPS device. These precautions don’t take much time and can save a lot of confusion when things get chaotic in an emergency situation.

People frequently meet up for rides organized through forums on online communities and it can be a real problem when nobody in the group has information about a downed rider. It’s important to collect each rider’s phone number, emergency contact information and a list of any special medical needs they may have. Also, make sure to go over safety rules for riding in a group.

The length of your trip and size of your group will determine the amount of supplies you need to bring. If you are riding in a larger group or traveling to a remote region where replenishing supplies is difficult, make sure you bring extra supplies.

R1150GS Crash
On large group rides, always collect each rider’s phone number, emergency contact information and any special medical conditions. (Courtesy Chad Berger)

Remaining Calm

In an emergency, tensions rise and adrenaline is pumping. Remaining calm and level headed will help you and those around you make better decisions. It is also important to keep an injured rider relaxed and still, so that they don’t cause further damage to themselves.

Note: This article is not intended as medical advice and is for informational purposes only.

Author: Chad Berger

He’s a freelance journalist, photographer and tour guide from Wisconsin. Since 2004, Chad has been riding dual sport and adventure bikes all over the Midwest, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Moab, Baja, Alaska and many other places in between. He shares his experiences through the photography, videos and stories he produces from his trips. In 2008, Chad created a 600-mile dual sport route called the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail (TWAT), which eventually led to his becoming a tour guide for RIDE Adventures.

Author: Chad Berger

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July 13, 2014 8:38 am

I took a MAST (Motorcycle Accident Scene Training) class earlier this year. Highly encourage anyone that rides to take a First Aid class. It is important to have a basic idea of what to do as well as what not to do. You could be the deciding factor for the survival of an injured motorcyclist until Emergency Medical personnel arrive.


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