Firefighters in North Lanarkshire have been working with bikers in a pilot project aimed at reducing the number of motorcyclists killed or injured on the roads.
Motherwell Community Fire Station played host to the first-ever Biker Down courses to run in Scotland, with 56 people taking part in the three-hour events over four days in May, June and July.
The initiative has been introduced by Firefighter John Branney, a keen biker and a leading figure in the fire service’s Bikers Section. The idea came about after he read about the Biker Down Project delivered by Kent Fire and Rescue.
John contacted Jim Sanderson who started the Biker Down programme; support from Jim has been central to getting the brand and format introduced here in Scotland.
Along with a group of volunteers John has successfully launched the initiative which is receiving very positive feedback for participants and community planning partners alike.
Enquiries are also being received from SFRS colleagues from other parts of Scotland who are looking to introduce the Biker Down initiative in their local areas.
With the support of his commanding officer at Cumbernauld and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) team in North Lanarkshire plans were drawn up to deliver the course as a pilot project.
Firefighter Branney said: “Motorcyclists are roughly 38 times more likely to be killed in a road traffic collision than people in cars.
“Around 30 bikers are killed or injured in the UK every single day and when an accident does happen then the actions of those first on scene can be the difference between life and death.”
He continued: “Biker Down goes beyond telling people about the consequences of things going wrong and actually offers them the chance to learn practical skills that could be crucial if they come across an emergency.”
Designed by bikers for bikers, the course focuses on three key areas: Accident scene management, first aid for motorcyclists and the science of being seen.
The four pilot courses run at Motherwell Community Fire Station were delivered to members of the Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists, student motorcycle maintenance mechanics from New Lanarkshire College, solo riders and members of several motorcycle clubs.
As many bikers ride in pairs or in groups, it is often the case that the first person on scene following a collision involving a motorcycle will be a fellow biker.
Training motorcyclists in how to deal with a casualty can save lives and Biker Down courses include ways of keeping the scene safe, first aid appropriate to common types of injury and the issues of safely removing a helmet.
Area Manager Iain McCusker, the local senior Officer for North Lanarkshire, said: “Firefighters are frequently called to the scene of collisions and when a report comes through of one involving a biker there’s always great concern.
“Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable and a crash that would be likely to cause only minor damage to a car could easily claim their life.
He continued: “North Lanarkshire is home to many country roads enjoyed by bikers as well as the main arterial routes linking Glasgow, Edinburgh and the north of the country, so road safety is clearly a key issue for our team.
“This initiative fits with our goal of always reducing the number of casualties on the roads and the reaction from participants has been hugely positive.”
“The work undertaken by John and the other volunteers to get this initiative up and running is greatly appreciated. The impact of their training is already at play.
“A recent attendee Ian Currie has contacted John following a message that he had to use the knowledge gained after attending a session in June.”
Iain had been out with friends on a run when one of them was hit by a bus. Iain told John “You have probably heard about a crash on the Strathaven Road; we were out a run and one of the guys collided with a bus.
“When we got to him he was face down but still breathing but then he stopped breathing so we had to turn him and remove his helmet then started CPR. It all helped to keep us calm and just do what had to be done.”
The advice for motorcyclists is always to anticipate the actions of others, make sure they could slow down and safely stop if the unexpected happens and to position their bike in the safest place to maximise their visibility.
They should also take a 'lifesaver' glance over their shoulder before carrying out manoeuvres, so they know where others are and what they’re doing.
Drivers of cars and other vehicles are urged to ‘Think Bike’ and carefully look for motorcyclists, especially at junctions, when changing lanes or turning in the road.
Anyone interested in learning more about the Scottish Biker Down can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Facebook page ‘Biker Down Scotland’.