RICHMOND, Va. – Cindy Hicks, a senior art producer for The Martin Agency, is home for the holidays this Christmas in part because of the Rider Alert program that was launched in Richmond last spring. The program, designed to help save lives, provides free identification data cards to motorcyclists in order to help first responders provide rapid and accurate medical assistance if the rider is in a serious accident. When Cindy Hicks heard about this program from her friend, Ken Crumpler of the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services, she thought it was a great idea. She even accompanied Crumpler to Durham, North Carolina in early September to photograph the launch the Rider Alert program down there. Shortly thereafter, on Sept. 17, 2011, Hicks crashed near the Semmes Avenue exit on Richmond’s Manchester Bridge. Speculation is that she was cut off by a car and lost control of her motorcycle, but she has no memory of the incident.
“I was supposedly thrown 20 to 30 feet in the air after hitting the curb,” said Hicks. “I broke eight ribs, my collar bone and shoulder blade. I also lacerated my kidney, aorta and a lung and suffered a severe concussion. Needless to say, I’m very luck to be alive. The Richmond Ambulance Authority medics that arrived on the scene immediately recognized the Rider Alert sticker on my helmet and were able to use the information I had put on the card inside to help with my treatment and, I’m told, the MCV medical team found this information very helpful as well. ”
Hicks spent a week in MCV’s severe trauma intensive care unit and was out of work on short-term disability for three months as she recovered from the crash. As for the importance of the Rider Alert program, she had this to say.
“You know, those of us who ride motorcycles have a great sense of control. We think we will be able to take care of everything and that nothing bad will ever happen to us. It’s always someone else,” said Hicks. “The truth is, it can happen to anyone, just as it did to me, and the Rider Alert card was there when I needed it to be. It contained my name, my doctor’s name, my emergency contact information and my blood type – a lot of critical information that medics would not have found in my wallet. I highly encourage all motorcyclists to make sure they have a card like Rider Alert in their helmet every time they hit the road."
The Rider Alert cards are free and available through many distribution locations throughout the state of Virginia (for a list of locations see www.rideralert.org). Once filled out, the Rider Alert card is placed inside the rider’s helmet and a one-inch, round sticker is placed on the outside of the helmet to alert emergency responders to the information card inside. The sticker also warns bystanders not to remove the helmet, which could prevent further injury. Helmet removal is a two-person effort to be done by trained medical personnel only.
Rob Lawrence, Richmond Ambulance Authority’s chief operating officer, was instrumental in bringing the Rider Alert program to the United States along with partners Bon Secours Virginia Health System and Motorcycle Virginia. RAA based the idea of the Rider Alert cards on a program called CRASH Card, which was developed in the United Kingdom several years ago and, like the U.S. program, it continues to spread rapidly. Thus far, 125,000 cards have been printed in the United States and almost half a million worldwide.
“To know that the card is now having a positive impact for riders in distress makes all of the effort behind the Rider Alert program worthwhile. It means that the program is truly working,” said Lawrence. “Cindy Hick’s story is one of several in Virginia, and many throughout the world, that affirms the importance of the Rider Alert and CRASH Card programs.”
As for Hicks, she says she will continue to enjoy motorcycle-related events but at her daughter’s request, she will travel to those in a car from now on. No more motorcycles. She is just happy (and extremely grateful!) to be here for the holidays.
Rider Alert is based on (and affiliated to) 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. The Rider Alert card program is the first of its kind in the United States and since its launch in Richmond, more than 125000 cards have been distributed in the U.S. Rider Alert is expanding across the US, with New York being the second state to launch the program. The Virginia Rider Alert Team have also distributed cards via local sponsors and public safety agencies in West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. The Rider Alert Team are also working with the Blue Knights of Australia (Police motorcycle club) to promote the program down under.
The Rider Alert sponsors encourage 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.