22 July 2010
When a cyclist went flying over his handlebars during a horrific accident on a remote country lane, there was one piece of good news – the car behind him was being driven by a Red Cross first aider.
Ben Stickley – who is both a Red Cross first aid volunteer and staff member – was driving home to Hunsdon in Hertfordshire through quiet country lanes on 12 July when he came across a queue of stationary cars with their hazard lights flashing.
He said: "My first thought was there’d just been a minor accident as I couldn't see any cars off the road. But I stopped to see if anyone needed help as there were no emergency services at the scene."
Getting out of his car, Ben soon saw an injured cyclist lying in a crumpled position at the side of the road, tangled up in a broken bike and with blood smeared across his head and legs.
Ben, who is trained in first aid skills, recalled: “Someone had put a bag under his head but no-one really knew what to do, so I took control of the situation. The casualty was conscious but very dazed and couldn't remember what had happened. I checked him for back or neck pain – and any broken bones – then gently moved the bike away.
“Next I put him into the recovery position, both to help his breathing and because he was beginning to drift off. I also took his helmet off as the strap was wrapped tight across his throat.”
Someone had called an ambulance, so Ben relayed the man’s condition to the operator and made sure they would know how to reach the remote accident scene. While they waited, Ben kept reassuring the casualty and used the time to do a thorough check of his injuries. The first aider also managed to piece together what had happened to cause the accident.
He said: “It turns out a tree branch had gone through his front wheel while he was pedalling at speed and launched him straight over the bars head-first onto the road. His helmet certainly saved him from a very major injury – or worse – because it was completely bashed in at the point of impact.”
When the first paramedic arrived, Ben continued looking after the casualty while she examined him. And when the ambulance crew later decided to put the casualty on a spinal board, he also helped with the delicate operation of lifting the cyclist and getting him safely into the ambulance.
Looking back, Ben said: “The paramedics were very grateful for my help and I was just so glad I knew what to do. If I hadn't known first aid, I’d have been just another bystander and the outcome to the story could have been very different."
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