Monday, February 25, 2008

2005 Stewart Rescue

It’s always nice to schedule some fun rides in between the races. So, when I got home from Deer Valley, I was so excited to be invited by Frank to ride with the cretins at Stewart. I did not know the trails there, so having a guide was nice.

It was a hot, steamy and humid day. Frank would lead, followed by Art, Henry then me. About 5 miles into the ride I heard Art cursing in a tone that 23 years of experience told me that he had hurt himself. All I could think of was that he had fallen on his collarbone that he had broken just 8 weeks prior. Nope, it was his hip. His front tire had just washed out suddenly on a loose turn, landing him smack on his hip with no time to even get the foot out.

It looked like Art could not put any weight on the leg nor sit on the saddle of the bike. After reviewing the situation, we attempted to walk Art out with his arms draped over our necks like a pair of crutches, but it was slow going. We were about ¾ mile into a single-track and then another mile or two back to the parking lot on a gated park road. So, Henry decided to call 911 to see if we could get the gate unlocked to get our vehicle in to shorten the trip.

Frank went back to the parking lot to meet the EMT’s that would unlock the gate. We thought they may have some ideas or could help us get Art out. Right? No, wrong! They were not prepared in any way for a woods rescue and we wondered if we might have to go back and help them get out when we were done. They did call the fire dept., which sent a truck with sirens screaming, and as it passed by we realized there was another road closer. So Henry went exploring and found a road outside the park less than ¼ mile away down an electrical high-tension power line.

By this time, the EMT’s were sweating heavily and bleeding from walking near brambles. They checked Art and determined that he was an athlete with excellent blood pressure and may have dislocated his hip. Neither the EMT’s nor the fire dept had a stokes-basket. Their next choice was to dispatch a helicopter in hopes that they might have a stokes-basket and someone capable of carrying one. The chopper would have to land near the high-tension wires, which seemed insane. Although everyone was sure of what they could NOT do, no one seemed to be able to know what TO do.

At that time, I made a decision. Art could breath, was not in shock, was not bleeding or suffering from back and neck pain, he had one good leg and strong arms and needed to get to the road. I turned to Art and said “are you ready to try to walk out?”. He and Henry answered, “ let’s go”. We helped Art up and step-by-step we walked him out on one leg and he used us as crutches. By that time a Park Ranger in a truck met us part way to shorten the trip. Strangely enough, the park was never called. He just heard about the situation on his scanner. I generally keep the park phone # on my cell phone, but I rarely ride in this park district.

As soon as we got to the road, a helicopter appeared overhead and we told the ranger, no thanks. I then drove Art to the hospital near our home, where it was determined that he had broken his hip and needed surgery. There were options in treatment and thankfully his usual orthopedic surgeon that knew his history did the surgery. Things like this always make you think about whether you are doing the right thing, but I still feel that mountain biking is one of the best things in my life. The benefits of being a mountain biker always outweigh the few breaks and scrapes that may occur. Even something like learning how to self-rescue is a resourceful lesson to have experienced.

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