Monday, May 16, 2016

First Aid for Bikers- Road Rash

The following information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or training.  I do have approximate 25 years of experience as a first responder, and since childhood have been described by many as accident prone.  Seek qualified medical assistance and training.

In spite of what cagers would have you believe, we know that not all crashes result in broken skulls and funerals.  Truth is that many, sometimes even bad crashes, especially in the case of single vehicle injury accidents, the only real injury is road rash.  All of the pictures in this article are of me as the result of a crash on 11SEP13.

About the crash.  It was around 4 PM and I was on my way home from work. The weather was clear and sunny.  I had just turned onto my road and saw two kids on dirt bikes sitting in the field to my right.  One was facing the road.  He saw me and waved.  Pulling in the clutch, I hit my throttle a bit to say hello and make my presence known to the kid on the bike facing away from the road.  I was doing about 20-25 MPH  when the kid facing away from me quickly turned his bike around and pulled in front of me.  It was like someone just pushing a baby carriage in front of you.  
Here you can see from the skid marks from my back tire and clutch side floor board how little time there was between him pulling out and the crash.  I had to lay it down to avoid hitting him broadside.  Just beyond the trees is a creek I could have ended up in if I was able to miss the guard rail and telephone pole.

Yellow circle is my mailbox
Blue circle is where the kid on the dirt bike was
Red line is my direction of travel
Green line is his direction of travel
Red circle is my final ending location

I slid into him and he went up in the air and back down.  Thank God he was wearing a helmet.  He was out like a light and suffered only a a concussion.  Now onto my road rash, and how I would treat mine or someone else next time.

On the right you can see the deep bruise from from where my body initially came in contact with the pavement.  On the left you can see where I started to slide.

Not the ink!!!!!!!!!!

Cheese grater

I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  I know, I should have been dolled up like Power Ranger, Not my habit.  I have been involved in enough shit to know when I can get off the ground and when I should not.  If you or someone else is in a crash, even a minor one, and have the slightest concern that there is any injury other than road rash, please stay down and wait for EMS.  OK, that said here we go.

There are two layers of skin, the epidermis and the dermis.  The epidermis is the layer of skin that separates your body from the outside world, it is very elastic. like a sausage skin. It is .05 to .4 MM thick and continuously rejuvenating.  The dermis is the supporting structure of the epidermis and among other things contains nerve endings.  Your skin on the road is just like a cheese on a cheese grater.  Variables such as gear, weight, speed, angle of contact, and length of contact all determine how bad the road rash will be.  

I was transported to the hospital by EMS and by the time they got around to scrubbing my road rash to get the debris out of it it the blood was already dry. They irrigated it to soften it and began to scrub.  This was hands down the most pain I have ever felt.  So here is my recommendation...keep it wet if possible.

Wash it out ASAP-Within minutes of the injury the blood will begin clotting and drying.  This will essentially bond clothing and debris into your skin.  If possible, remove clothing from effected area right away and flush with water. This accomplishes two things.  First, it will flush out most of the foreign materiel that can lead to infection.  Second, it will keep the wound moist, The more moist you keep it, the less pain you will experience.  When I was a kid, I screwed up going off a ramp on my bike and got road rash all over my ass but on shale.  Not wanting to get in trouble, I sat on an old towel until it stopped bleeding.  Now 43, I still have shale in my ass.  It's a good thing it did not get infected.

Keeping it moist-  Obviously you are only going to pour so much water on it, so the best thing to use is moist dressing.  After all the debris is removed, put on a thin layer of antibiotic ointment, and cover with the dressing.  You will experience two types of  pain, The first is like a sunburn, and the second will be pain from movement due to the healing of the wound from the inside out.  These dressings help enormously with that.

Serious debriding- getting all the crap out of the wound.  Due to road conditions, I had some serious gravel in my wounds.  Not only would I have not been able to reach to scrub it out myself, someone that cares about you probably will not be able to do it properly.  You cannot wipe it out, you need to scrub it with a small brush.  Like I said, it is very painful and you will make noises.  A professional will keep going, knowing it has to be done.  Or, maybe your Mother in Law is available.  It is a judgement call here for just road rash.  If there are more significant injuries, it will be the least of your worries.

Next time we will cover regular burns.  Keep the rubber on the road. - Sloth


  1. I would add this. Get a big bottle of peroxide and saturate it. The peroxide will help with the cleaning a lot. Peroxide is NOT an antiseptic. It will break down the blood and along with scrubbing,will get the wound clean. Then bandage with a clean dressing and bacitracin. Leave the neosporin alone. Neosporin is a stronger antibiotic ointment aND continued use when not needed will cause sensitivities and bacterial resistance. A good basic scrub with soap and water is always best.also make sure your tetanus is up to date.

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