Fire and rescue pilot scheme aims to offer Edinburgh bikers life-saving skills

FIREFIGHTERS are working with bikers in a bid to reduce the number of motorcyclists killed or injured on the roads.

Thursday, 14th July 2016, 10:28 am
Updated Thursday, 14th July 2016, 11:32 am
Firefighters are working with bikers to reduce the number of motorcyclists killed or injured on Scotlands roads. Picture: contributed

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews regularly respond to serious collisions and say road users on two wheels are by far the most likely to be involved in a tragedy.

As many riders travel in pairs or groups, a fellow biker is often the first person on scene following a crash.

In a pilot project, firefighters in Edinburgh – as well as Argyll and Bute and North Lanarkshire – will be running Biker Down courses, giving riders potentially life-saving skills.

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The initiative was brought to Scotland last year when firefighter John Branney, of North Lanarkshire’s Cumbernauld Community Fire Station, sought permission to replicate the Kent Fire and Rescue Service project.

His team of volunteers – all firefighters and members of the SFRS Bikers Section – has delivered numerous courses over the past year.

Their efforts have been bolstered with crews at South Queensferry and Oban also now providing the courses.

Dozens of motorcyclists from across Scotland have heard the firefighters share their experience of attending serious road traffic collisions, gaining greater awareness of the dangers facing casualties and those coming to their aid.

Area manager Iain McCusker, the local senior officer for North Lanarkshire, said: “Motorcyclists are around 38 times more likely to be killed than people in cars, because a collision that would barely damage a vehicle could easily claim a biker’s life.

“Our crews are all too familiar with the devastating aftermath of incidents on the roads.

“Firefighters are often needed to help people who are trapped and injured following a crash, but sadly there are times when their specialist rescue skills just aren’t enough.

“Biker Down isn’t about lecturing riders on the consequences of things going wrong – it’s about equipping them to make a difference if they encounter an emergency.

“If someone there when a crash happens has the skills to manage the scene and provide first aid it could save a life.”

A course is expected to be held in South Queensferry later this year.

Mr Branney said: “Our 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 always take a ‘lifesaver’ glance over their shoulder before carrying out manoeuvres, so they know where others are and what they’re doing.

“Because bikers are particularly vulnerable we also need drivers of other vehicles 
to ‘Think Bike’ and carefully look for motorcyclists, especially at junctions, when changing lanes or turning.”