Some 1500 Aussie riders are now better prepared to help at a crash site thanks to the First Aid for Motorcyclists (FAFM) course which has just completed a lap of Australia.
FAFM Motorcycle Accident Management founders Roger Fance and Tracy Hughes had been presenting their specially tailored course around the Sydney region for two years before deciding the initiative should be offered to other riders around the nation.
So they sold their Sydney home in July 2015 and put all their goods in storage, including their beloved Ducatis, and set off for a clockwise lap of the nation, starting from the Sunshine Coast.
Roger and Tracy have now covered around 40,000km, delivered 65 sessions and trained close to 1500 riders before arriving back on the Sunshine Coast this week.
It wasn’t all easy going, either.
“We hadn’t ever been in a caravan let alone towed a 25 foot, three-and-a-half-tonne one so that was certainly interesting,” says Roger.
“Two days after setting off, we had a big caravan sway event on a downhill section of the Oxley Highway. That got the heart racing, so we quickly got the setup adjusted to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.”
They say it’s now time for a bit of a breather.
They have bought a house in Port Macquarie near the riding paradise of the Oxley Highway and plan to continue offering FAFM on a “part-time basis”.
However, their version of part-time is 41 sessions across Queensland, NSW, the ACT and Victoria up until June next year!.
Later this year they will run several sessions for the NSW Roads and Maritime Services who are subsiding the course and recognise the training as invaluable for riders.
Roger and Tracy have also trained new instructors to offer regular courses in Victoria and South Australia with more in the pipeline for other states.
The FAFM course covers accident scene management, traumatic injury management and accident prevention management.
Topics include: emergency helmet and casualty moves; removing a bike from a pinned rider; providing CPR; and dealing with head, neck and spinal injuries, uncontrolled bleeds, shock, burns, crush injuries and fractures.
“Other riders are very often the first responders at a motorbike accident scene,” says Tracy. “Training to understand the importance of the ‘Golden Hour’ to reduce fatalities and the consequences of serious injury makes a critical difference.”
The course even covers riding subjects such as managing fatigue, ride preparation and group riding guidelines.
They are also developing a one-day refresher course covering more advanced and remote area skills for riders.
FAFM is sponsored by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers who approached them to be involved in the Stop SMIDSY (Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You) road safety campaign to raise driver awareness of motorcyclists. They encouraged them to roll out the FAFM course nationally.
They are also supported by Motorbike Writer, Ulysses Club, Harley-Davidson Australia, HOG Chapters and the endorsement of every state and national Motorcycle Council/Rider Association across Australia.
“The course fee is set as low as possible to make it accessible to all riders and so sponsorship and support has been vital,” says Roger.
“It has also allowed FAFM to be well briefed on motorcycle-specific road safety issues and present the latest information to students. Examples include the recent lane filtering laws, helmet standardisation, action cameras, road design and maintenance initiatives, and accident compensation issues.”
During their national lap, the sign-written FAFM caravan attracted a lot of interest from the public.
“We are constantly asked about the program so it’s been a great opportunity to spread the word and help educate other road users,” says Tracy.
“We even ran into Ewan McGregor on a BMW Safari Tour at the Pinnacles in Western Australia”.
During their time on the road they also heard from former “students” about how they had been able to apply their newly acquired skills at an accident scene.
One rider was even asked to perform an emergency helmet removal while the paramedics assisted. He said his FAFM training gave him the confidence to take charge and think clearly at the scene.
Many riders send emails and post comments on their FAFM Facebook page after attending a scene to describe how their newfound skills made a difference.
Although Roger and Tracy enjoyed their trip discovering the raw beauty of outback Australia, Roger says it has been an emotional challenge.
“Missing our bikes, friends and family has made it a bit tough at times and being in a caravan together 24/7 has tested our relationship but made us stronger as a couple,” says Roger.
“Getting out for a ride really helps defrag and shake out the wrinkles, so being so far away from our bikes and riding friends and having them stored with our mate Rod has probably been one of the tougher aspects of the adventure. Rod takes them out every now and then to turn over the engines and sends pics to rub it in.”
Now that they have “semi-retired, they plan to do plenty of riding on the Oxley Highway.
Their new house also has a huge shed which Roger will use to start some bike restoration projects in between spreading the word on first aid for motorcyclists.