Emergency removal of a motorcycle helmet in trauma

Emergency removal of a motorcycle helmet in trauma

15. Removing a motorcycle helmet – April 2015

Helmets are worn to protect the head in an impact. The most common will be motorcycle helmets but there may be other situations where a helmet is worn and has to be removed. Despite helmet protection, the patient may still suffer head injury and impaired consciousness. To effect any patient rescue, a careful removal of the helmet is first required.


The helmet can be removed with the patient supine or in the lateral position. Ideally two rescuers are required to coordinate the movement with minimal patient head and neck movement. One rescuer kneels at the very top of the patient’s head. The other by the patient’s shoulders/upper body.

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The first step in removal is to move the head and helmet back to approximately the neutral anatomical position. The chin strap retaining the helmet is then unfastened or cut. If the patient is wearing glasses, open the visor and remove them. Once done, the rescuer at the shoulders holds the patient’s head by sliding the hands gently beneath the patient’s occiput and under the chin.

The second rescuer then removes the helmet whilst the first provides as much head support as possible. The chin section is slid upward to the chin first. The naturally instinct will be to try to remove the helmet this way but the chin piece will get caught on the nose. The back of the helmet is then grasped and dragged in a circular manner toward the top of the head. At this point the helmet will be partly removed. Grasp the sides of the helmet and pull outward to establish some flexibility will allow the helmet to be removed the rest of the way once the chin piece is clear of the nose.

Once the helmet is removed, the rescuer at the top of the patient’s head returns to providing head and neck stabilisation. Padding can be used to hold the head in the neutral position. Carefully examine the helmet for damage sustained during any impact.

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Jeff Kenneally www.prehemt.com