Last night was the last of four sessions of classes my partner and I taught. The course was called Let's Ride. It covered traffic handling skills and bike repair.
Near the end of the ride, a student fell, and in a freak accident, the brake lever entered her thigh and was completely submerged under her skin. It caused a lot of pain, and she was in quite a panic because it looked so very gruesome.
As luck had it, very helpful people were right there. We were in a county park, near the edge of the park and a road. In the park was a fire engine with full crew, a patrol car with an officer, an EMT riding his bike, and an OR nurse taking a walk. The officer called for an ambulance, which came quickly, with EMT's, as did an ambulance with paramedics. The cyclist-EMT and my partner disassembled the bike, separating handlebars from the bike so that our student could keep the handlebars in her lap. She didn't want anyone extracting the brake lever. The EMT's agreed and complied, and they gingerly lifted her onto a backboard and then a stretcher, taking great care not to disturb the handlebar/human interface.
The police officer said he is also a cyclist. He does mountain bike races. He had never seen a brake lever pierce a body before. I'm sure he never will again, either.
The student had brought her husband and kids with her for the first time. Husband was riding along with us. The two kids, age 17 and 7, stayed at the ride start point.
By the time the ambulance took the student away, the sun had set, and it was quite dark. I strapped the disassembled remains of the bike to the rack on my bike, and we pedaled through the quite-dark woods to our start point. I talked to the husband, making sure he was calm and wasn't worrying too much.
The kids took the news quite well. My partner and I accompanied husband and kids to the hospital. We found the patient in good spirits. Her injury, as it turned out, was minor. She said that at least half the pain was from the horror of seeing her body invaded in such a shocking and disgusting way. The lever didn't enter any muscle tissue.
She's sore today and has trouble walking, but she says she is looking forward to getting back on the bike.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
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