Safety first: Join a Biker Down! course near you

Join a Biker Down! course and learn valuable riding skills
Join a Biker Down! course and learn valuable riding skills

There are plenty of courses available to bikers to help them with improving riding skills, awareness and basic maintenance – you can join an IAM training course or sign-up for a Bikesafe workshop, for example. 

However, one we recently joined was the Biker Down! course, which is aimed to give riders a basic understanding of first aid. The main objective from the free session is to give motorcyclists (and others who may be pillion or just interested in learning more) a bit of guidance as to what to do if you’re first on the scene of an incident. 

We attended the event at Shefford Community Fire Station, where the course is run by firefighters and is split up into three parts. By the end of the session you’re taught: 

  • How to keep yourself safe
  • How to call the emergency services (which may seem obvious, but, what happens if you’re in the middle of the stix with no service?)
  • The different typs of hazards at an RTC (Road Traffic Collision) 

During our half-day with Biker Down! we also picked up some vital knowledge on basic first aid, including: 

  • The principle of a two-person motorcycle helmet removal
  • The information medical professionals would like to receive
  • The meaning of D-R-C-A-B (Danger, Response, Catastrophic Bleed, Airway, Breathing

When taking part in a full, advanced casualty assessment course, the full acronym is:

  • D – Danger
  • R – Response 
  • C – Catastrophic Bleed
  • A – Airway
  • B – Breathing
  • C – Circulation 
  • D – Disability 
  • E – Exposure

What are fire bikes used for?

Earlier in the year we were paid a visit from several Fire and Safety bikers, some retired and some still in service, to raise awareness about the fire bikes and Biker Down!

Speaking to MCN, Gary Willoughby, Community Safe Watch Manager South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “In South Yorkshire we don’t use our bikes for operational incidents, our bikes are purely for road safety education. We may use them on what we call KSI (killed and seriously injured) routes to try and help slow traffic down.

“We also use our bikes to raise awareness to other bikers and show them you can ride a big bike at the speed stated on the road.”

Gary, like many of the other bikers who visited the MCN office, doesn’t tend to have a particular rota in which he rides his fire bike or runs a Biker Down! course. They simply do it in their spare time, all-year round.

Top 3 tips to keeping you safer on the road

  • Stick to the speed limits
  • Be aware of the hazards around you
  • Look ahead and plan how you would react in certain incidents

Gary also spoke to us about introducing more into car-licence tests about motorcyclists, cyclists and even lorry awareness.

“I think some services in London are trialling courses where they’ll get a cyclist and put them into a cab of a lorry and a lorry driver onto a bicycle, so that each gains more perspective of what the other person would be seeing and doing on the road,” Gary said.


Kent Fire and Rescue skills days offer track time and vital training

First published 11 October 2018 by Dan Sutherland

Firebikes is a great way to learn additional rider skills

Kent Fire and Rescue Service have devised a Ride Skills event at Brands Hatch, Kent, allowing motorcyclists to learn vital first aid training as well as experience two track sessions around the shorter Indy circuit.

Run in tandem with MSV Trackdays at a cost of £60, the courses are run throughout the summer months and cover first aid, emergency stops, slow speed control and even a one-to-one observed ride with an advanced IAM instructor.

While some activities will take place on your bike, such as the track time and slow speed slaloms, other elements take place in a classroom environment in intimate groups, with trained riders and teachers relaying life-saving information to pupils on topics including how to safely remove a riders’ helmet in the event of an accident.

Friendly members of staff

Although all dates have now run for this year, MCN attended one of the schools in the summertime and spoke to 48-year-old Jim Sanderson who is the Crew Manager at Kent Fire and Rescue Service Road Safety Team and helps run the events.

Jim is one of four Kent Fire Bike riders and the creator of the Biker Down! scheme, which is a free initiative that aims to give riders a basic understanding of first aid when first on the scene of a road traffic accident involving a motorcyclist. 

This includes topics like clearing the riders’ airway and breathing, helmet removal, keeping yourself safe and controlling the scene.

The briefing

Much like a standard trackday, the event begins with a friendly briefing explaining the layout of the day. This is led by Jim, with interjection from fellow members of staff, in an attempt to calm everyone’s nerves. 

Conscious that most attendees have never ridden on track before, he begins by saying: “This is about improving your skills. The idea from today is to tell you how good you are and give you some pointers on how to improve your skills and enjoy your riding a bit more.

“I expect to see loads of smiley faces – I don’t want to see any frowny faces. We are getting good at putting smiles on people’s faces here; from stripping down exhausts to fit baffles, to bump starting bikes in pit lane, we have done all it takes to help people out.” 

The Fire Bike program

Later on in the day, MCN sat down with Sanderson to discuss the Fire Bike scheme further. “The Fire Bikes are only used as an engagement tool and they are a rolling advert for the road safety events that we attend,” he said. “They go to any events that we go to.”

“I have been involved with the project since 2004. When we started, the team had four riders but only one bike, with the riders selected from serving firefighters. They wanted people who could go out and talk to motorcyclists and it was thought the public would respond better to active members.

“We needed to ride to a level that was advanced, but we also needed to be able to talk about bikes as any other member of the public would. All of the riders are IAM qualified and my boss and I have gone on to pass the Masters course, too,” Sanderson added.

“Bikers make up about 1% of road users, but nearly a quarter of all those injured. The budget to fund this project was taken from money set aside for community safety. It didn’t come out of the money for wages or for engines, or anything like that.

“I obviously thoroughly enjoy my job. I was a biker before I was a firefighter and I’ll be a biker after I’m a firefighter. I also get a lot of satisfaction from the fact that people are listening and improving their skills by attending the event.”

Maria Martin

By Maria Martin

Former MCN Online Editor