This is one of those subjects that no one wants to have to deal with. Unfortunately I’ve had to deal with it first hand. Accidents are a reality in our sport. How prepaired are you to deal with things that happen while out on rides?
August 8th 2015 I had to deal with the loss of a dear friend while on a ride. I realize that this is the most extreme type of accident, but I’ve also had to deal with several other situations throughout the years of riding. Back to the 8th, we attempted to call 911 immediately and surprisingly were put on hold. The accident happened at a ski resort where we were riding the downhill trails. Had we known, the resort has an emergency contact number on the back of the tickets. This simple little bit of information could have saved 20-30 minutes on responce time. Sadly in our situation it wouldn’t have made any difference. After the emergency was over with and we had made our way back to camp we were faced with the task of getting ahold of his family and transporting his truck and camper back to his home, 3 hours away. Little things like having a contact number for family can make a big difference. Just for a little more explanation, he was wearing all the necessary equipment and was an experienced rider that was in top physical condition. Sadly, it was an equipment failure that caused his crash.
Looking at the more mainstream types of accident… The group that I normally ride with consists of several people who have had some kind of medical training. I myself was a first responder (20 years ago), we have a former paramedic and several nurses. One or more of us always have first aid supplies on hand. Cell phones work on most of our rides, when they don’t I always try to identify a location where they will and make sure the group is aware of it.
Despite all the planning in just the last couple of years we have had to deal with a broken collar bone that required immediate emergency surgery, wiplash, dislocated shoulders, lacerations and a variety of other issues. These are what seems to be the normal types of injuries that mountain bikers deal with.
As I stated in the beginning… how prepaired are you to deal with things ranging from road rash to a fatality?
I forgot to mention that I have been looking into organizing a backcountry first aid training for my riding club. There are several people around the area who teach this kind of class and would love to help us out. The major focus would be on stabilizing injuries and preparing for extraction, stopping bleeding, animal/snake/bug bites, hypothermia and dehydration. I’m sure they have some other ideas to cover. These are the ones that come to mind.
I think there’s two main reasons for lack of response, the first being that the forums are really just coming back to activity after a long dormant period so we’re not seeing a lot of traffic yet.
Secondly, and I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but you started a post that you were looking for useful input with an incredibly personal and painful story. After reading this topic initially, I felt any input I had differing from your hoped for response would be an insult to your personal experience.
Since you’re asking, I’ll say this. I try to be reasonably prepared for catastrophe but I acknowledge and accept that riding a mountain bike (sometimes faster than I’d ride a motorcycle on the same trail and with more gear) comes with risks and the potential of injury or death. I carry first aid kits, phones and wear protective gear. I don’t read the back of tickets or all paperwork on any trail boards, I don’t find out how to contact helivac services for a given area, I often ride alone on top of other things that would be frowned upon by those who had safety above all other priorities. It’s not that I don’t understand that many things can be prevented by preparation, it’s simply that I found my own personal acceptable level.
In hindsight of any catastrophic event, we will always find things that could have easily been done to lessen it’s impact.
Thank you schwim for your reply. After reading through this several times I understand how things could be taken the wrong way and i didnt post this to argue or offend anyone. I think my intention for writing it was to raise awareness. We all, or hopefully we all know that mountain biking has its risks. Most of us work hard to be prepaired. Unfortunately I experienced a situation I hope no one else has to go through. By putting my story out there I’m hoping that someone may notice and take that extra little step to be prepaired.
I don’t think anyone would view your post as argumentative or offensive in any way at all. I feel that some, like myself are hesitant to respond to a topic that has such an emotional element for fear that we would offend you in some way during our discussion.
I personally would attend any training that was organized by my bike club or Fatrac I think it’s a great idea. We recently had a member take a spill and crack some ribs. Fortunately it was on a fire road at the end of our ride. If it had happened high up on a remote singletrack it would have sucked. A ambulance was able to drive right up to us.
I forgot to mention that I have been looking into organizing a backcountry first aid training for my riding club.
That’s an absolutely fantastic idea. My local club is focused on building trail, maintaining trail, and riding trail. Over the past few years, we’ve branched out into things like “take a kid MTBing” and some ride skills work. I think something like “backcountry first aid” would be a great asset!