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Good reminder: First aid treatment on the trail

Hans's picture

By Hans - Posted on 28 September 2010

Good reminder: First aid treatment on the trail

Great tips in this Bike Radar article:

Noel's picture

First Aid for a Fall:
1. Grow a beard
2. Have somebody wear a sweatband while they hold your beared head with two hands
3. Close your eyes and dream of icecream while you wait for the ambulance.
4. Using your left arm, hold a camera up and take a photo of yourself getting your bearded head held.

daveh's picture

Play "this little piggy went to market" to keep their mind off their injuries.....

CookPassBartridge's picture

Thanks for the tip. First aid has been on mind lately, especially since my riding buddy nearly trod on a snake an hour hard riding from civilization.

Anyone got any (sensible) tips on how to handle/deal with a snake bite please?

Rob's picture

Compression bandage or Pressure immobilization. The Wikipedia page on this is interesting... despite this questioning the effectiveness they do note it's the recommended method in some places (erm... Australia):

In 1979, Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council formally adopted pressure immobilization as the preferred method of first aid treatment for snakebites in Australia. As of 2009, clinical evidence for pressure immobilization remains limited, with current evidence based almost entirely on anecdotal case reports. This has led most international authorities to question its efficacy. Despite this, all reputable first aid organizations in Australia recommend pressure immobilization treatment; however, it is not widely adhered to, with one study showing that only a third of snakebite patients attempt pressure immobilization.


Pressure is preferably applied with an elastic bandage, but any cloth will do in an emergency. Bandaging begins two to four inches above the bite (i.e. between the bite and the heart), winding around in overlapping turns and moving up towards the heart, then back down over the bite and past it towards the hand or foot. Then the limb must be held immobile: not used, and if possible held with a splint or sling. The bandage should be about as tight as when strapping a sprained ankle. It must not cut off blood flow, or even be uncomfortable; if it is uncomfortable, the patient will unconsciously flex the limb, defeating the immobilization portion of the therapy. The location of the bite should be clearly marked on the outside of the bandages.


hawkeye's picture

My take on advice read elsewhere:

1: Remove yourself and the patient from the immediate situation of risk if the animal has not left the scene.
2: Immobilise the patient and their affected limb.
3: Call emergency services immediately.
4: You will probably be asked to wrap the affected limb firmly with a compression bandage to restrict lymphatic fluid flow, but not so tight as to restrict blood flow. Your lymphatic system is how the venom travels.
5: Don't try to suck the venom out or cut the wound.
6: It will be helpful if you are able to describe the type of snake, but do not put yourself at risk to get this information.
7: Monitor your patient's condition and wait for help to arrive.

I never ride without a fully charged phone and a whistle for attracting attention.

For the race on the weekend at Parkes I was required to carry a first aid kit which included a bandage, wound dressings etc. That will now be a permanent resident in my Camelbak.

For long rides outside of mobile phone coverage I'd suggest buying an EPIRB.

CookPassBartridge's picture

Thanks Hawkeye, and if that advice ever saves my life, I'll owe you a life debt,... well, maybe that's a little strong. I might offer to paint your house (maximum 3 bedroom) or wash your car (no limos).

The (typical POM biting off more than he can chew) situation I nearly found myself in, was a bitten riding buddy at the end of a long trail (st Helena), no mobile reception, and no one around.

I guess had it actually happened, the best bet would be:

1.) bandage buddy
2.) Tell them to stay calm and immobile
3.) Ride up the trail looking for reception
4.) blow whistle if had one
5.) hope I can get a Westpac chopper asap to pick her up.
6.) maybe to relay the GPS coordinates from iphone may be useful (but call emergency service first as gps kills the battery).


Buck's picture

Or maybe just do a first aid course? Reading about it is fine but without practice one usually forgets most of this stuff.

Ray R's picture

Anyone riding one hour from assistance SHOULD have done a first aid course and be carrying some basic kit. In fact, everyone should do a first aid course as a matter of course.

With the possible future easing of restrictions on MTB in National Parks, the last thing we need is to be branded as irresponsible for not taking basic precaustions!

Noel's picture

Hans changed the linked pic.

For snake bite also write down the time you were bitten. Even if you scratch it into the ground if you don't have a pen.

I ride alone often in remote locations and always have a compression bandage, charged phone with 3g, and some minor stuff for cuts etc. I also wear 661 veggies on my shins.

Even if I take a walk 100m from my house (I live in the jungle) into the bush, I take a bum bag that has a compression bandage and I put my mobile phone in the bum bag. If I get bit, it will be all about trying to stay calm, noting time, ringing 000, wrapping bite to tip and then work back, and waiting it out.

I've done senior 1st aid a few times before, and have administered in several industrial incidents.

I was talking to a snake expert about a story in USA Mountain Bike Action magazine about how a bloke had a rattle snake attatched to his leg and he had to belt it with a bike pump to get it to let go. The snake expert explained that generally the USA snakes inject and leave the classic puncture mark, where as the general australian snake tends to leave a scratch mark as the venom runs down the outside.

I think it's worthwhile having a look before you put your foot down when stopping. If i'm heading through a location where I know it's snake territory and the folliage is a bit close to the legs I'll ride along tapping the front wheel on the ground a bit to let the buggers know it;s time to run off.

The most snake activity I ever saw on a trail was just before a massive hail storm. Animals, lizards, snakes and all sorts of shit were running everywhere up near Bobbin Head Road one afternoon just as the wind picked up, everything turned grey and then the sound of ice belting my helmet as I rode for cover.

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