Joe the Instructor-slash-Paramedic

In the past two entries we’ve been looking at the Legend MSF is distributing to instructors in Pennsylvania and now I have confirmation it’s being distributed in California. This entry looks at the section on the RiderCoach’s summary of student injuries.

Beyond the fraudulent injury issue, these injuries MSF considers a “complaint of pain”:

“1) Persons who seem dazed, confused or incoherent.” Two rider educators I spoke to both, separately, immediately said, “Oh, that’s the instructor.”

These can be symptoms of something like stress or could be a mild brain injury that occurs without loss of consciousness or headache. But “possible brain injury,” MSF says is a “severe injury”. Joe the Instructor is not qualified to determine why the student is dazed, confused or incoherent, rider administrators and instructors all agree.

#3 is related to the first one: “3) Any person who is known to have been unconscious as a result of the incident, although it appears he/she has recovered.” Once again, if the student lost consciousness it could indicate a brain injury.

Rider administrators were concerned these conditions were minimized as complaints of pain—and the second, if not the first, would’ve resulted in an ambulance call.

That both—and especially #3 were classified as pain complaints contradicts MSF’s definition of Severe Injury: “An injury other than a fatal injury which results in broken bones, dislocated or distorted limbs, severe lacerations or unconsciousness at or when taken from the incident scene.” Just because they come to doesn’t mean the brain isn’t injured or that death couldn’t still result.

“Other Visible Injury” is the classification for mild-moderate injuries and “includes: bruises (discolored or swollen); places where the body has received a blow (black eyes and bloody noses); and abrasions (areas of the skin where the surface is roughened or broken by scratching or rubbing which includes skinned shins, knuckles, knees and elbows.)” Sprains and strains do not appear in any classification.

The last category in the Legend is “Fatal Injury”—yet some of the victims died hours or days or even a week later. How can an instructor with First Aid training determine which injuries will ultimately kill the student if the student isn’t already dead on site?

Each of these classifications requires the instructor to determine the severity of injuries and put it down on the form. Instructors feel that diagnosing injury severity is way above their pay grade. As one instructor said, “I’ve taken an on-line first aid and CPR course. What do I know?” Another asked how he’s supposed to determine the injury was fatal if the rider didn’t die at the scene? Others said, “I’m not a doctor/paramedic/EMT. I’m not going near that.”

Administrators are even more alarmed than instructors at the thought of instructors judging injuries as they understand the legal risks, too. To follow MSF’s instructions, then, exposes the instructor’s and program’s ass at the expense of covering someone else’s.

At least the appearance of dangerous training

The rider educators I spoke to were troubled by the list of injuries. Once again, they unanimously felt it creates the impression that the course very dangerous, and they felt that the list’s existence makes it appear as if they are reasonably expected outcomes of training and regular occurrences. And, once again, they also felt it might scare instructors away from taking on so much personal risk as well as be used by a plaintiff’s attorney.

Just imagine what students would think if they saw that list spelled out with all the easily visualized violence of the crash and blood? So if this is just an abundance of caution, it really sends the wrong message. As Birdwatcher said, “If it’s overpreparation, that’s kind of alarming.”

He went on to say that if those kind of crashes and injuries are, in fact, occurring, “I’d think there was something fundamentally wrong with the instruction or how the instructors were taught.”

But is this an “abundance of caution” thing?

Just like with the symbols of crashes that shouldn’t occur but have, the answer is no—these kind of injuries have been occurring in training or there wouldn’t have been deaths associated with the MSF curriculum.

And we already know students have suffered multiple fractures in their legs. And there’s even been crashes with multiple fractures of both legs and ribs—not to mention at least one spine—and there’s been at least one punctured lung, and multiple severe lacerations. These kind of wounds come from crashing into objects like concrete walls and fences and streams and into parked vehicles—including motorcycles and SUVs and cars.

This part of the Legend also isn’t just a listing of things that never happen as an abundance of caution. In fact, it’s a cleaned up version of what has already occurred in training.

The answer appears to be, yes, training really has become as dangerous as the MSF’s incident report form indicates. We just don’t know how many times these crashes and injuries and deaths have happened—iow, we just don’t know how dangerous it is.

The next entry may tell us through a requirement in California (though not Pennsylvania).

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One Comment on “Joe the Instructor-slash-Paramedic”

  1. Diogenes Says:

    Anecdotal evidence certainly supports the concern that MSF’s training really is deadly, or life-threatening, if you prefer. In my decades as a trainer I’ve never seen the number of crashes or the level of critical injuries that the BRC, BRC lite, etc. are producing.

    I’m even more appalled at the reports from MSF’s latest boondoggle…the military ‘sportbike’ course. It seems to be a recipe for training riders to crash at even higher speeds…not to mention the fact that my cat knows a LOT more about piloting the space shuttle than Ray Ochs knows about trail braking.

    If the MSF really were a safety-oriented organization they’d be concerned about fixing the root causes of the parking-lot carnage, rather than scrambling to hide the evidence or deflect liability.

    …so who’s going to be the first state to really start tracking crash and injury statistics? Who’s willing to begin tying injuries to exercises and demanding change? Who’s ready to stop ignoring their mistakes…or burying them?


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