Pitman Gets First 'Rider Alert' Card for Bikers
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH, KY - Dr. Jay Pitman rode up on his bicycle, took off his helmet and smiled. After being greeted by his colleague, Dr. Irvin Smith of PHI Air Medical, he said Tuesday morning was the first time he had ridden a bike since he was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Paducah's Noble Park.
Pitman, Smith, and several others were on hand at PHI's Headquarters on Coleman Road to launch a "Rider Alert" campaign in the area for bicyclists and motorcyclists.
Smith said the program was designed for motorcyclists, but if a bicyclist is involved in a collision or accident, the results can be similar.
"When folks on motorcycles or bicycles are injured, that's a high-mechanism injury event. Often, these folks are not well protected, and often they are rendered temporarily unconscious." Smith said.
The rider is encouraged to fill out a card with their name, allergies, physician's name, and any important medical information. An emergency contact is also listed on the card. A sticker is placed on their helmet that says, "DO NOT REMOVE HELMET," and that serves two purposes.
When bystanders come up to the scene, the sticker helps them recognize that removing the helmet of an unconscious rider is something that first responders should do. Smith said it takes two trained people to safely remove a helmet.
"And what we don't want to do is to have a potential neck injury, and have that aggravated by a helmet that's not properly removed, " Smith said.
The second purpose of the sticker is to let first responders know that information is stored inside the helmet that may help in caring for the victim.
Pitman said when he was struck by a car on August 18, he had no ID or medical information on him, just his cell phone, and his head injury prevented him from being able to use it. He said he was lucky that the EMT that arrived knew him personally and recognized him.
Jeremy Jeffrey, Base Manager for PHI in Paducah, said the card's information is essential for those who are first on the scene, especially if the patient has to be airlifted to a larger city.
"Even if people from inside this community know you, that's not really gonna do a lot of good in Evansville or Nashville," Jeffrey said.
He said knowing a patient's name is vitally important, so they can get law enforcement to help track down and notify family members.
Jeffrey said, "I can't imagine anything worse than me being in Nashville, Tennessee and my family not know where I'm at, and me be severely injured and not able to tell anybody. So, that is why it's so important that we know who you are. The medical side of it is very important, too, because a lot of stuff we are treating, if you have underlying medical conditions, we need to know about that, because it may change our treatment regiment somewhat."
Having this information prepared beforehand benefits the patient, since family members who are contacted to get medical information are also dealing with startling news that a loved one is injured, or on their way to an out-of-town hospital.
Jeffrey said, "You're not really thinking clearly because your emotions are going 100-miles-an-hour. Again, you're 180 miles away from you, and all you're thinking about is getting to her. You're not really thinking real clearly about,'she has a history of this,' and 'she has a history of that.'"
Captain Don Hodgson of Paducah Police and McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden were on hand, and both men said the "Rider Alert" program is a great way to quickly have information that could help save a life. Both agencies have agreed to keep cards and stickers for the program at their offices, so riders can easily get them.
Smith said they want to speak to cyclist or motorcycle clubs about the program, or possibly attend events that are being held, so they can spread the word. Anyone who wants more information about the program, can call PHI Air Medical at 270-444-6161.