WHILE DAN’S SUITE OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS focus primarily on diving, graduates of the courses can apply the skills and knowledge they learned to many circumstances outside the aquatic realm.
My wife and I were driving home from a weekend getaway to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, heading northbound on Interstate 95. As expected, I-95 was moderately packed with traffic, including unusually high motorcycle traffic, which we later found out was due to a nearby rally. As we were driving, my wife commented about all the bikes and hoped nothing would happen to a rider. A couple of minutes after she made that comment, the traffic slowed, and we noticed a motorcycle accident had just occurred.
I pulled onto the off-ramp and exited my vehicle to see if I could be of assistance. A motorcycle rider was stumbling around in the grassy area between the highway and the off-ramp, where his bike was in pieces and strewn over a 50-yard (46-meter) trail. Another person who had stopped was on the phone calling for help.
After quickly observing the situation, my training kicked in. I first asked the individual who was on the phone with 911 to remain on the line until we could get information about the rider. Then I approached the rider, who appeared injured. When I stepped in front of him to get his attention, I could tell that he had a neurological issue. He was mumbling and had a blank stare. I kept talking to him while I attempted to stabilize his neck and get him to sit down. Based on the 70 mph (113 kph) speed limit in that area and the destruction of his motorcycle, I knew a neck injury was a distinct possibility and that there could be other injuries, including internal.
After getting the rider to sit, I began to assess his neurological status by asking him some basic questions such as his name, the year, where he was, and what happened. He could remember his name but nothing else. I then began to use some of the skills from the neurological assessment component of the DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers course. I attempted to perform a F-A-S-T (facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties, and time) assessment, obtain a S-A-M-P-L-E history (signs/symptoms, allergies, medications, pertinent medical history, last oral intake, and events leading to the current situation), and check his mental and motor functions.
As when I first approached the rider, he could still remember only his name, and he appeared to have an altered level of mental status. He was unable to answer basic questions or perform a simple task such as repeating a common phrase.
During this time I also started an initial first aid assessment, looking for any apparent life-threatening injuries or bleeding. A visual inspection revealed no obvious issues, so I began a secondary examination with assistance from another individual who had stopped to help. I directed this person to hold the rider’s neck for stability while I performed the head-to-toe secondary survey. As I went through the assessment, I could not detect any abnormalities needing attention. The rider could move his arms, legs, fingers, and toes and did not complain about any other pain.
Just as I finished the assessment, medical personnel arrived on the scene, and I passed along the information I had ascertained. I was able to use the skills I had learned to convey the status of the injured rider in a clear way that the medical responders could understand.
Because of my DAN training, I quickly and effectively recognized what I needed to do and responded correctly to the situation. The training style DAN uses — repeating skills and information as building blocks to the next topic — gave me a reliable memory bank of the steps for first aid and neurological assessment. I easily recalled the necessary information to assist the injured person and first responders.