Rider Alert Cards for Motorcyclists: Making a Difference Between Life and Death

Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) and Bon Secours Virginia Health System, in partnership with Motorcycle Virginia, Inc., has launched a new program designed to save the lives of injured motorcyclists. The program provides free identification data cards that will help first responders provide rapid and accurate medical assistance to riders involved in accidents.

The data cards, officially known as Rider Alert cards, are placed inside riders’ helmets and contain vital, life-saving information, emergency contact and any important medical history. When first responders arrive on the scene of a motorcycle accident, a one-inch, round sticker on the outside of the helmet will indicate that the biker has the Rider Alert card. The sticker also warns bystanders not to remove the helmet, which could prevent further injury.

In developing the Rider Alert card, RAA engaged both bikers and first responders, to determine the most effective way to provide rider emergency contact and medical information.

“Motorcycle accidents and fatalities are on the rise in Virginia,” said Rob Lawrence, chief operating officer of Richmond Ambulance Authority. “This card is born out of experience – it has been designed by paramedics who have been on both sides of an accident as the injured rider or as medical help. Accessing this basic information after a motorcycle accident can sometimes be impossible. This small tool could mean the difference between life and death.”

“We are so pleased to be involved with such an innovative program,” said Toni Ardabell, CEO Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. “This truly is a program that can provide critical information, allowing first responders to give injured cyclists the best possible on-site care before transporting them to our emergency departments.”

In 2010, there were 76 motorcycle fatalities and more than 2,191 crashes in the Commonwealth of Virginia, according to preliminary numbers provided by the Virginia Highway Safety Division of the Department of Motor Vehicles. These numbers were up from 71 fatalities and 2,115 crashes in 2009.

RAA based the idea of the Rider Alert cards on a program called CRASH Card, which was developed in the United Kingdom two years ago by the Ambulance Motorcycle Club. Since its creation, more than 325,000 CRASH Cards have been distributed to riders in Europe.

RAA and Motorcycle Virginia began discussing how to bring a similar program to Virginia last year. They teamed up with several organizations, including Bon Secours Virginia Health System, which offered its support, and has helped the project advance through the concept and design stages to its launch. The Rider Alert card program is the first of its kind in the United States.

Rider Alert cards will be available at the Richmond Ambulance Authority, Chesterfield Fire and Rescue station and New Kent County Fire station, as well as through partnerships Motorcycle Virginia has established, including local members of the Virginia Motorcycle Dealers Association.

“Motorcycle Virginia has strong relationships throughout the state with organizations that are excited about this program and know the safety benefits it will have for riders,” said Steve Witmer, corporate director of Motorcycle VA. “There are more than 100,000 registered motorcycle riders in Virginia, and we will use our resources to get the Rider Alert card into as many of their hands as possible.”

RAA encourages all motorcycle riders to get their own Rider Alert card, fill it out and put it under the lining of their helmet. Then, peel off the one-inch round sticker and secure it to the right side of their helmet or helmet visor. Each card is produced in a special waterproof paper that can be written on with a ballpoint pen, and should be able to withstand the environment inside a rider’s helmet.

Rider Alert cards are free and are provided with an information letter containing details of the program and full instructions where to place the card and where to place the round sticker.

“The potential for this program to go viral is very strong,” said RAA’s Lawrence. “We have already had discussions about the Rider Alert launch with other EMS agencies in the U.S., and the level of enthusiasm has been immense. Fort Worth, Texas looks to be the next market to roll out Rider Alert.”

“Everything is bigger in Texas, and motorcycling is no exception,” said Matt Zavadsky, director of operations of Med Star EMS in Fort Worth, Texas. “A long riding season and high population results in thousands of motorcycle accidents in Fort Worth each year, and we are looking forward to implementing the new national model for motorcycle crash victims developed by the Richmond Ambulance Authority.  Once again, RAA has demonstrated its national and international leadership through yet another innovative program that will benefit the entire country.”

In the meantime, the Virginia roll out of Rider Alert continues in Fredericksburg, Va. on Saturday, April 16, where Rider Alert cards will be distributed at the Morton’s BMW spring open house.

+ Learn more about Rider Alert cards.

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