A road safety course designed to safeguard motorcyclists if they have accidents on island roads is coming to Stornoway on Saturday (August 31st).
The free, three-hour Biker Down course is the first ever to be run in the north of Scotland and is based on the idea that bikers will have accidents, but their survival and injury chances can be improved by better awareness.
Course leader Gary Wood of Fire Scotland told welovestornoway.com today (Tuesday): “This is a UK-wide initiative which started at Kent Fire and Rescue Service, where they ran a number of initiatives trying to reduce the number of people killed or injured on the roads. They found that they couldn’t make any headway with reducing accidents, so they decided to come at it from a different angle and try to ensure a better outcome if bikes do crash.”
The resulting course is called Biker Down and is to be run at Stornoway Fire Station from 1pm on Saturday. It’s aimed at motorcyclists and anyone who wants to be well-prepared to help in an emergency, offering practical skills to help avoid being involved in a crash, essential first-aid training and advice on what to do should you find yourself first on the scene of a crash.
Gary said: “The first few minutes after an accident has happened are vital, and anyone at the scene who knows what to do has a positive impact on the biker’s chances of survival, or reduced injury.”
His view is echoed by Stornoway airport firefighter Errol Chalmers, who is also a biker. He said: “Bikers are likely to experience injuries that car drivers don’t – you have no protection other than boots, leathers and a helmet and what happens to you at the scene can make a huge difference.
“From a public point of view it’s important to leave the biker where they are, not to move them unless they are in immediate danger – such as from leaking fuel, or because they have stopped breathing. Throw a jacket over them, keep them warm and just be with them until emergency services arrive.
“As a biker I’d be more confident if I knew someone came to help me and was not going to cause harm by well-meaning intervention. For example, there’s a history of people making neck injuries worse by trying to take helmets off.”
Trainer Gary Wood says the intention of the course is to improve people’s knowledge, so that anyone who comes across a bike accident has better knowledge to do the right thing. Island bikers would be the first to benefit, he said.
“When we were planning this course I assumed that the majority of island bikers would be visitors coming to enjoy the scenery, but I now understand that there’s a lively biking scene in Lewis and Harris.
“The island’s weather and road conditions are obviously as unpredictable as they are everywhere else in Scotland, but a significant factor is the rural nature of the roads, which means bikers could be away from population, with medical help and an ambulance a long way away.
“It’s often the case that the first person to find a biker down is another biker, so this course is aimed at bikers, or anyone who is regularly out on the roads as a driver, runner or walking a dog and who might be the first one there when something happens. If they have a better skillset to deal with the situation it will help more bikers survive and less to suffer serious injury.”
The picture shows firefighter Errol Chalmers with his bike at Stornoway Fire Station and the poster detailing Saturday’s course (Fire Scotland).