View Full Version : Helping at an accident / breakdown

Gary Kinghorn
12-09-2007, 01:00 PM
Thanks to Nige for preparing this.....

I have now stopped for several `incidents` on the ring, the last one being when a biker went down in front of me at the top of hohe-acht.

I wanted to share some thoughts...

If you see a crash/off and nobody else has stopped, then you should look to pull over as soon and safely as possible and see if you need to render assistance or warn other vehicles.

1) STOP as quickly and safely as possible, dont just anchor on, that biker who is behind you and was happy to be following may get a nasty shock if you suddenly stamp on the brakes when actually, you just need to use your mirror, indicate and slow down rapidly. Obviously, if someone is immediately in front on the track and you have to slam on to avoid running them over, thats different, but even then, be aware whats happening around you and be prepared to move your vehicle to allow someone else to slow down at the same time.

2) Pull off the track on out of the way of the traffic when stopping. Twice I have slowed down, then pulled onto the grass to stop, thinking I was doing 5 mph when it was more like 30 and almost crashed into the armco myself . Grass is not particularly grippy and believe me, when you go onto it trying to stop for an accident, it doesnt slow you down.. So slow down on tarmac and at the last minute, when you`ve almost stopped pull off the track. Your adrenaline will be flowing and its very easy to turn off immediately, or when you think you`ve slowed down more than you actually have. I did anyway...
We all park up at the end of the lap and leave it in gear to stop the pads fusing with the discs or cooling and losing braking effect, this applies on the track!!!
I leave it in gear, usually 1st , If you pull up at the scene and on a hill be careful if you do choose to put the handbrake on.
After some time, could be 40mins, your brakes cool down and the handbrake can stop working causing your car to roll away....

3) Grab your fluorescent jacket / flag from the vehicle, you do leave it in an obvious place dont you? Its no good tucked away under a pile of junk, put it somewhere so that you can easily and quickly get hold of it, you dont want to start having to remove your spare wheel just to get to the jacket underneath...

4) you have a choice now, you either assist the crashed vehicle or warn oncoming traffic, I dont think there is a hard and fast rule, if there is oil on track, you`ll want to try and stop others coming round the corner and going onto the oil and crashing into the person who has already gone off. Its no good you helping a biker to his feet and a car coming round the corner, spinning and hitting you both. If you do need to warn oncoming traffic, just pause for a second. When I stopped to help the biker, I had a passenger, they immediately jumped out of the car and tried to warn oncoming cars whilst I retrieved my flag. They were waving their arms around, doing anything to slow people down, just like I would.
However, we discussed it later and at the time, you dont necessarily think clearly, running across the track on the exit of a corner is not always the safest thing for you to do, so take stock, look around and try and imagine where the next out of control vehicle will end up, then dont stand there.
It sounds obvious, but i`ve had a narrow escape when I was running back to schwalbenschwanz when a car had dumped a load of oil on the track, I was on the `inside` of the circuit, on the grass, a car came round the corner, hit the oil, span and headed straight towards me !

5) assuming you are warning other vehicles, dont stand over a blind crest, on a corner. Try and imagine what the drivers will do when they see you waving your jacket / flag. Most will immediately get off the power and brake hard. If the first time they see you is halfway round flugplatz or miss-hit-miss, that isnt ideal, instead, go further back, so cars coming up can see you and brake BEFORE the bend.

5a) If you render assistance, use common sense. If the driver looks OK and isnt stuck in the car, he`ll probably try and get out. If he is in a bad way, dont drag him out of the car if its not necessary, dont immediately remove the helmet, let the professionals do that. Potentially you can cause more harm than good by removing helmet, if injured person is breathing with no difficulties leave alone,if not breathing then depends on your training and if you are happy to basically do the best you can in a bad situation.
The above in italics has been edited due to the number of comments below. Basically, dont remove the helmet as a matter of routine. If you are unsure, leave the helmet alone and let the professionals do it.

6) Once you know if anyone is injured, phone the ring office on +49 (2691) 302-215 and alternatively +49 80 00/ 302 112 . Put that number in your mobile phone NOW dont wait, do it NOW.
When they pick up, take a breath, calm down and try and speak clearly. Tell them someone is off circuit, they will then ask where. If you dont know, look for a sign / board, they are pretty regular, reading off the `156` on the board will tell them where on the circuit you are, even if you dont know the corner name.
Next they will ask if its a car or bike involved and if anyone is injured and needs an ambulance. I have phoned the office whilst running back up the track and have been unable to tell them the information they need. Wait a few seconds to take stock and decide if someone is injured and needs an ambulance. DO NOT ASSUME someone else has phoned. Its better to have 3 people phone the office than nobody...

They will also ask if recovery is required, you can usually tell when looking at the scence if thats the case or not.

I`ve never had to render medical assistance, so hopefully, someone who has can post their thoughts here, but I have had to warn oncoming vehicles. You know when you see a person waving to slow down and you lift off and cruise past them, well when you are stood at the side of the track, thats bloody scary. If you see someone madly waving a yellow flag/jacket, SLOW DOWN, they are doing it for a reason and it isnt just to spoil your lap..

Usually, the marshalls arrive very quickly, they will often go to see the person in the vehicle first, whilst the other marshall will ask you to keep waving your flag or jacket and they will do the same. If you stand flapping your arms for 30 minutes, its quite tiring, so pace yourself, honestly, I was knackered after waving a flag for 40 minutes ..

Things usually start to calm down after the first 5 minutes and everything falls into place, but the first time you are the first on the scene, things are pretty frantic and it all seems to happen very quickly.

The ring relies on people like you & I to stop and help if you are needed, not just drive past thinking "that looks bad", remember, one day it MIGHT be you who needs help and you`d like to think someone would stop and help you wouldnt you???