No matter how good a rider you are, accidents happen—and quickly. But with a little knowledge and a few precautions, you can keep a bad situation from getting worse, says Greg Martin, an engineer firefighter and advanced EMT who provides emergency medical assistance and performs backcountry rescues in Ketchum, Idaho.
“Cyclists get used to riding all day and things being fine,” he says. “It’s easy to forget sometimes that we’re traveling pretty fast and pretty far and a little mishap can end up being a big problem. A little knowledge and precaution goes a long way in keeping you safe in the event of an accident.”
Take Care of Your Head
“Head injuries are always a cause for concern,” says Martin. “You hear about it in skiing, but it can also happen in cycling. Someone falls and hits their head and they shake it off. Then later they don’t feel well and it turns out they have bleeding on the brain. That can kill you. You always need to take an impact to the head seriously.”
In short, call 911 if you or another rider has:
- a cracked helmet. That means you’ve hit your head hard.
- a headache. Not just sore from the initial impact, but you have a headache that isn’t abating or is worsening.
- lost consciousness. If you pass out, you need to get checked out.
- confusion. If you don’t know who the president is or why you’re sitting on the side of the road, you need to get checked out.
- vision changes. If the world doesn’t appear clear and normal, you need medical assistance.