This is a question I have been thinking about a lot since I attended a first aid course last autumn. The opinion seems to differ between countries, which is confusing.
Previously, when I have attended first aid courses in Sweden, the instructions have been clear about the priority – if the person is not breathing, remove the helmet. Naturally, removing the helmet is a tricky business and it has to be done with great care of the neck and spine, but there is a special procedure to do it safely, preferably by two people. However, if you can’t breathe you die, so helmet off to start mouth to mouth and chest compression was the instruction.
At the first aid course last autumn, here in Spain, the teacher got a bit upset when I told her about what I’d previously learned. She claimed that it was too risky for the spine and that mouth to mouth could be done through the visor gap (apparently she didn’t know how a helmet fits the head) or simply just do the compressions. She also said that in Japan mouth to mouth is not done at all, only chest compressions. Later, when I checked info with friends in Sweden, that are both bikers and medical doctors, the information was clear – helmet off, but do it safely. So, apparently this is something that is thought of differently in different countries. I find it a bit surprising that there aren’t standardised European guidelines about this.
When riding behind a Tele Pizza scooter delivery the other day I could read a sticker on his healmet saying “in case of an accident, don’t remove helmet”. So it might be the case that I now live in a country where I, in case of an accident, will die with my spine intact and with my helmet on. Maybe this is to prevent people ripping the helmet off at first chance, but I would prefer education to prohibition.
Another matter in case of an emergency is how to keep personal information. Since I often ride alone, I need ways to store information that can be found by, for example, medical staff. Before, I have made cards with phone numbers etc, which I put in my wallet or in my bag, but this can be difficult for others to find. Now one solution was presented by the Swedish bikers union, SMC. They’ve sent ICE medical cards to their members. These cards can be put inbetween the shell and the padding of the helmet and are combined with a sticker saying “medical card in helmet”. All neat and nice, when eventually the helmet is removed.
In addition, I found something that might be more useful outside Sweden, U-tag ICE. It is an ID tag to put around your neck and the beauty with it is the USB storage that you can fill with the information you want and it works in 7 different languages. Some initial information can also be engraved on the tag and – this is super clever – documents can be uploaded and encrypted so it can be used to store copies of driver’s licence, insurance, etc. The U-tag also comes with stickers which inform that ICE can be found on the rider.