Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fear and Thankfulness

A week ago, a friend from work was hurt in a fairly serious mountain biking accident. She's been mountain biking for years and wasn't doing anything particularly dangerous or technical at the time - she simply slid a bit, hit a rock at the wrong moment and bailed, landing on her left arm and sliding down the trail a ways. Fortunately, she was riding with a group of smart women, who quickly assessed the situation, contacted 911, and lead rescuers to their friend's aid. They were on a fairly difficult to reach section of trail so it took Search and Rescue close to 3 hours to get my friend to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder, broken humerus, and some nerve damage causing numbness in her arm from the shoulder down. The SAR team credited the women for helping speed up the rescue by directing their team to the area. She is now home and off work for at least month, and only just beginning the long healing process.

So why am I writing about this? Well it reminded that last year I did a podcast episode about safety when training. Among other things I mentioned the importance of carrying ID and a cell phone, letting people know where you will be running or riding etc etc. I told the story of the time my husband and his friend went mountain biking. After a few hours, his friend arrived on my doorstep looking for my husband after they became separated. He had hoped that maybe my husband had ridden home knowing they could reconnect here. Together we waited for Erik to arrive, not knowing if he had crashed or was back on the trails waiting for his buddy. Finally, in desperation, we were just about to go out looking for him when he arrived with a broken derailleur. He'd had to walk his back home at least 5-6 km and why? because neither man had carried a cell phone.

I know it sounds sexist of me to say this but I think my friend's accident was handled efficiently because she was riding with women, three of whom had cell phones. And they were smart enough to try not to move her - two of them stayed with her while others rode out to meet the search and rescue team and lead them back to the injured woman.

So please, the next time you head out, whether it's for a quick run around the neighbourhood or a day-long trek on your bike, carry your driver's license or Road ID, and consider carrying a cell phone, particularly if you are going to be far from amenities. You never know when something unexpected is going to happen. If you have a phone, you can make a quick call that at the very least will put your friends and family's mind at ease if you've been delayed.


Earlier on the day that my friend crashed, we had been talking about biking and how I'd like to get back on my MT bike. I talked about my fears of single track and of crashing, and told her how listening to her stories had encouraged me to think about getting back out on the trails again. Somehow now, fear has once again replaced my enthusiasm. I'm not sure when and if I'll get back on my MT Bike now. However, I'm happy to report that the day after her accident, my friend showed no fear of getting back on the bike. She's one tough cookie.


skierz said...

I get shivers whenever I hear about crash stories! Great to hear she will be OK! I never leave wthout ID and a route plan and ETA. there are so many dangerous things when we are out there all the time!

Glenn Jones said...

This is so right on. Since Irun alone most of the time, I am guilty as charged. If I'm trail running, I will carry a cell phone, but a lot of the places I go don't have cell coverage. I suppose I could hike to the top of a ridge or something. It's certainly better than the alternative.

Jasminn said...

Yowsa!!!! From someone who has had a dislocated shoulder.... OUCHIE! I can't imagine being stuck on the mtn for 3 hours waiting for SAR. Glad to hear she had some quick thinking women with her :)
I too take a cell phone with me on my rides, even if it is just to call hubby to come get me if the headwind is too strong to get home ;)

There's been a few times when I have considered not taking my phone (usually for a run) and I've slipped into the "ah it's a small town, what's gonna happen" but it's better to have it and not need it :)

milkthecowbaby said...

Wow this is such a good reminder to keep my cellphone with me on my rides. I normally do but lately i have left it behind on the odd occasion. Great reminder! You never know what may happen.