Monday 2 February 2009

Hats Off

No, I'm not referring to the well known idiom 'My hat is off to you' expressing admiration and praise, but rather to a simple bikers device.

'What's that got to do with scuba diving?' you ask.

Most divers happn to be trained and qualified as emergency responders and the importance of exercising care when treating someone with a head injury has been emphasised to us countless times.

The Hats Off device was invented by John Deagan following a bad motorcycle accident in 1985. Deagan had his neck broken and when paramedics started to pull off his helmet, it felt as though they were going to take his head with it!

How does it work? The device consists of a small, tightly folded plastic bladder that sits inside the top of a helmet. A tube then feeds under the padding and fastens to the bottom of the inside of the helmet rim. The end of the tube is fitted with a quick release screw fitting which, when removed, allows a rescuer to attach an inflation source - such as the inflator bulb found on a common blood pressure testing kit. In the event of an accident where the helmet must be removed, the rescuer simply inflates the bladder and the helmet smoothly glides off the head.

If you look at an incapacitated driver, the question becomes, ‘How can we get to the airway the quickest?’ The best way is to get the helmet off, and consequently the longest time in getting the helmet off, is to remove the helmet chin straps and then actually lifting the helmet off. Just as in a normal extrication, you need to retain control of the cervical spine, support the head, and to make sure you clear the nose. There is really nothing new here except that the helmet is not pulled off. All the other rules of helmet removal remain the same.

The plastic bladder folds up quite flat (about 3 mm), so the wearer doesn’t even know that it’s there. There’s absolutely no difference in feel when wearing your helmet other than feeling assured that you’ve taken every step you can to help protect yourself in the event of an accident.