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What to do in an emergency?

IN AN EMERGENCY, DIAL 999, ASK FOR POLICE, THEN ASK FOR MOUNTAIN RESCUE. If something happens to you, your riding buddies or another rider when out on the hill - do you know what to do? Who to call for help? Or the basics of first aid? This guide should help us all understand what we need to do if it all goes wrong on the trail.

First aid trails Credit First Aid Borders

Quick Guide - How to manage an incident

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, when things go wrong you can over-ride the panic by having a plan.

Being advanced at the basics is the key to being an excellent first aider, look at what you can control and influence in the situation and try not to worry about all the other stuff. Remember the 4 C's!

1. CORDON

C - set up a safe CORDON around the incident - perhaps close the trail above the rider, make it safe. Upturned bike further up the trail will do this.

2. CASUALTY

C - does the CASUALTY need some first aid? check out our first aid skills section for more details.

3. COMMUNICATE

C - COMMUNICATE with the emergency services or the person who is going to help - you may be able to self evacuate but it is really important to let others know what is going on. IN AN EMERGENCY, DIAL 999, ASK FOR POLICE, THEN ASK FOR MOUNTAIN RESCUE.

4. COORDINATE

C- COORDINATE the group and the rescue, make sure everyone is safe and knows what is going on, especially if some riders are ahead of you and may not know what is going on.

Arran Mountain Rescue Team

Image courtesy of Arran Mountain Rescue

Scottish Mountain Rescue Vice Chair, Kev Mitchell

“We are very lucky in Scotland to have a world class volunteer Mountain Rescue service. Help us, to help you, by being prepared and knowing what to do in an emergency. If you are lost, in need of assistance, or in an emergency, dial 999 ask for POLICE then MOUNTAIN RESCUE. Enjoy our incredible wild places and support our volunteer teams who will assist you any hour, any day, and any weather.”

First response - more detail

We know that the vast majority of your rides will happen without incident but it is always good to have some knowledge of first aid. Why not consider some training? Check out the life-saver app, free online training that will help you understand and practice the basics https://life-saver.org.uk/

Always take a first aid kit so that you can clean and dress a wound. You can even learn how to improvise with some of your biking kit.


Use a system that helps recognise life-threatening things first - we call this DR ABC.

Danger - is it safe. Assess for any other potential accidents and make the area safe for you and your group

Response - speak to your casualty and ask if they want help, squeeze shoulders

Airway - if they are not responsive you may need to open their airway using a head tilt and chin lift

Breathing - check if it is normal, breathing that is not normal can be life-threatening

Circulation - if they are not Breathing this means that you have dialed 999 and you are doing CPR; if they are breathing then check for any bleeds that may be life-threatening

Ensure that the casualty is comfortable by insulating them from the ground, adding extra clothing etc. Place any unconscious casualties in the recovery position. Put the casualty into a position that helps them maintain their airway - a Recovery Position/Safe Airway Position.


What happens when I call the POLICE?

Police Scotland deploy all mountain rescue teams in Scotland

The police will require your:

  • Location (ideally 6 figure grid reference or named location/feature)
  • Casualties – number and nature of injuries
  • Group number and equipment you have
  • Mobile numbers for you and others in the group

Outdoor First Aid Courses

If you are regularly riding at trail centres or on natural trails then we highly recommend you attend an outdoor first aid course. Or at the very least 'Safe In, Safe Oot' course with First Aid Borders. Thank you to Jen Isherwood from First Aid Borders for her help in compiling this information.


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