First Aid Management: Helmet Removal

It is essential to follow proper procedure for helmet removal in all cases of injuries and first aid is required. The helmet is used to protect the head from any sort of injuries while playing contact sports and riding motorcycles. While more people engage in activities that require the use of helmet, there is also an increase in the number of injuries that would require helmet removal.

Emergency care workers, including first aiders, are advised to learn the safe and quick procedure to remove the helmet. Helmet removal gives providers access to a patient’s airway and allows for stabilization of the victim’s head and neck. However, improper removal of helmets may lead to unintentional aggravation of cervical spine injuries.

Commonly Removed Helmet Types

Helmets comes in different shapes and sizes. The difference is based on which type of helmet is most suitable for a particular type of activity. The following are the common types of helmet that are removed:

  • Full face coverage
    • Covers the whole face
    • Used in motorcycle, auto racing, motocross etc.
  • Partial face coverage
    • Covers on the brain and the back of the head
    • Used in motorcycle, auto racing, etc.
  • Light head protection
    • Covers only the top of the head
    • Used when riding bicycle, kayak, etc
  • Football
    • Particular to the sport football

Prehospital Recommendations for Helmet Removal

It is generally recommended to have to helmet to removed in a hospital setting, especially if there is a suspected head and/ or cervical spine injury, and the failure to securely immobilise the neck before transporting to another healthcare facility. The following are the prehospital recommendations for helmet removal as based on the Prehospital Care of the Spine-Injured Athlete:

  • If the helmet and chin strap is incapable of holding the head securely
  • If the helmet and chin strap design prevent ample airway control, even after facemask removal
  • If the facemask cannot be removed
  • If the helmet prevents ample correct immobilisation for transport

First Aid Management: Helmet Removal

At all costs, do not attempt to remove the helmet individually. There should be at least two trained individuals for proper helmet removal. This will ensure proper removal while holding the head and keeping the head and neck rigid. The procedure for proper helmet removal is as follows:

  • The first rescuer should maintain inline immobilisation by placing his/ her hand on each side of the helmet, with the fingers on the victim’s lower jaw (mandible).
  • The second rescuer should cut or loosen the strap at the D-rings.
  • The second rescuer should place one hand on the lower jaw at the angle, with the thumb on one side and the middle and index fingers on the other. Using the other hand, apply pressure from the occipital region.
  • The rescuer at the top should then move the helmet, while keeping in mind particular precautions:
    • For full facial coverage, remove the glasses first. To clear the nose to avoid impeding removal, the helmet must be tilted backward and raised over it.
    • For egg shaped helmets, expand laterally to clear the ears.
  • The second rescuer must maintain inline immobilisation from below to prevent unnecessary neck motion throughout the whole removal process.
  • Once the helmet is removed, the rescuer at the top should place his/ her
    First Aid Management

    First Aid Management

    hands on either side of the victim’s head, with the palms over the ears.

  • Maintain inline immobilisation until a backboard is in place and replaced with a cervical immobilization device.

Disclaimer: The information from this article does not provide medical advice and should not be substituted for formal training. Seek medical attention when necessary. To learn more about proper procedure for helmet removal and other essential techniques in first aid, enrol in First Aid Courses and CPR Courses with workplace approved Training.

Online Sources:

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1413407-overview

http://www.facs.org/trauma/publications/helmet.pdf

http://www.nata.org/statements/consensus/NATAPreHospital.pdf

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