Are you a motorcyclist? Do you know someone who is? Would you (or they) know what to do in the unfortunate event of a motorcycle crash? Would you know how to keep your spouse or your buddy alive and safe until EMS help arrived?
Mr. D. J. Dryer, the Safety Manager for the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Bliss, El Paso asked the same question. His role at Fort Bliss is to assure that all soldiers who are motorcyclists for the two brigades he supports (402nd FA BDE and the 1st Army) have the requisite skills and training to be safe and in a state of readiness to conduct their missions.
My husband (Jimmie “Tyke” Barham) and I received a call back in June 2013 from Mr. Dryer to learn more about the Bystanders Assistance Training and how they could bring the program to Fort Bliss. That conversation was the genesis for a journey for us that would prove exciting, humbling, and rewarding all at the same time.
By way of background, Tyke and I are Instructors with Accident Scene Management, Inc (ASM; www.accidentscene.org) teaching the Bystanders Assistance Program. ASM is the leading international motorcycle trauma training organization. Through the various program offerings, bystanders and EMTs are taught what to do in order to prevent injuries and fatalities to motorcyclists.
The purpose of the Bystander Assistance Programs is to enhance the survival rate and reduce severity of injuries for the injured riders of motorcycles and ATVs, with the expectation of decreasing the chance of rescuer injury due to inappropriate actions at the crash scene. Since its inception in 1997, ASM has taught over 15,000 motorcyclists across the country. I joined the ranks and began teaching this class, along with my now husband, in 1999. Over the years, we’ve personally taught close to a hundred motorcyclists in several states on how to keep themselves and their buddies safe at the scene of a crash. This experience and passion led to my becoming now one of 5 Instructor-Trainers for ASM in 2012, which brings me back to my call with DJ back in June 2013.
One of the Command Sargent Majors in DJ’s battalion is a motorcyclist and learned of the program through his Gold Wing Road Riders Club. CSM Bowen asked DJ to contact ASM and coordinate plans to not only teach the Basic and Advanced Bystanders Assistance Programs to the motorcyclists on Fort Bliss, but to also obtain Instructor Training for a select group of their combat Medics. CSM Bowen’s ultimate intent is to mandate this training to all motorcyclists stationed at Fort Bliss and to assure sustainability in that training internally within their command.
Arrangements were made and we traveled to El Paso on Wednesday, September 4, 2013. We joined CSM Bowen, Mr. Dryer, and 30 motorcyclists with the 402nd FA BDE and the 1st Armored Division stationed currently at Fort Bliss to teach them the Basic and Advanced Bystanders Assistance courses. Twelve Medics and Assistants were also selected to receive Lead / Assistant Instructor training. (I must also confess to a bit of trepidation as I arrived on base – – how much would I remember about protocol in the Army from my days back in the mid-80s when I was a young lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps Reserves? I’m glad to report more than I would have thought!)
To say that the weekend was a success would truly be an understatement. Many of the men and women who participated were seasoned veterans having served one or more tours in Afghanistan or Iraq. The training they receive as soldiers, whether medics or not, in addressing trauma was awe-inspiring.
Over the course of the two days of program training, the ASM curriculum provided them with civilian-focused scene management considerations, along with treatment information for motorcycle-related trauma and medical situations. They, in turn, shared their training and treatment techniques with us, eager to demonstrate the latest in equipment and approach. The two days of focused Instructor Training for the Medics and their Assistants provided for an even deeper exchange of not only treatment approaches but training methodologies as well. The group was understandably proud of the fact that they were the first dedicated military unit to receive this specialized training and they were oh-so-willing to provide us with tips and insights to assure future military-focused events would be successful.
A few highlights:
- One afternoon at the end of the training day, we were treated to a personal tour of the MSTC facility (Medical Simulation Training Center). As a former ED trauma nurse and a trainer in the ASM program, I was incredibly humbled to see first-hand how the Army assures the readiness of every soldier under their command should they be called upon to assist a fellow solder. (Warning: the pictures associated with the article in this link are quite graphic http://www.army.mil/article/83299/MSTC_makes_it_real/).
- A formal presentation of the capabilities of a Bradley Armored Personnel Vehicle was conducted and Tyke was treated to a tour of the inside
- At the end of our training on Sunday, attendees were called to attention in formation. We were asked to participate in the presentation of the Certificates of Course Completion and the awarding of the patches. We were then totally surprised and honored to be formally presented with Certificates of Appreciation from the Brigades for our efforts that weekend.
We look forward to our return to Fort Bliss to observe the first course that they will be conducting to provide feedback and address any questions that may arise with the curriculum. In the meantime, we find ourselves reflecting on the experience and realize how fortunate we are that soldiers such as these folks serve so that we may safely enjoy our passions and pasttimes, including motorcycling! And how fortunate we were to have had this incredible opportunity. A big thank you to CSM Bowen and his Commanding Officers! Colleen M. Vetere, RN, MPH & Tyke Barham