Rural & Remote First Aid

ATV Rollovers

The legislation for rollover protection on ATV’s is now active. I have no valid view on the good and the bad of the new mandated devices. I don’t have the need to use an ATV personally, I never have used them, so my opinion would be nothing but hot air.

But …. I have been to several rollover incidents involving ATVs in my role in the Ambulance Service. And generally when the Ambulance is called it means it hasn’t ended well!

So I thought it might be an opportune time to refresh the First Aid protocol for when you may come across someone who has rolled an ATV and is somewhat stuck under it.

A rollover hoop installed

The guidelines as issued by the Australian Resuscitation Council recommend the following steps;

  • Remove all crushing forces as soon as possible (if safe to do so)
  • Control any external bleeding
  • Avoiding routinely applying an arterial tourniquet prior to the removal of the crushing force unless there is actual or suspected life-threatening bleeding

So, it is quite different to what we had for many years. The older protocol was to leave the item in place until medical aid arrived. THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE (and hasn’t been for a few years now).

Much of the data surrounding ATV rollover fatalities suggests that the most common cause of death for someone trapped under and ATV is asphyxiation (not being able to breath). So this adds to the argument for getting the item off asap. We also know that if toxins are building up below the crush point as a result if diminished blood supply, the the longer we leave it the more toxins will build up. Proving to be a much larger risk to life.

Safety Sticker

So to recap, if you discover someone stuck under an ATV, get the crushing force off them asap (if safe to do so), control any external bleeding, do not apply a tourniquet prior to removing the force unless you suspect life threatening bleeding is occurring.

If you would like more information about this topic or any others, or to book a Remote Area First Aid course, please contact us on 0491 057 339 or email

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