Monday, May 20, 2013

Bike Wreck & Rescue

I had been trying to get my husband John to ride with me for weeks. He was stuck in his "Deer Creek Loop" and had not done one Missoula MTB ride with me on single track. We headed up to ride the "Three Larch" ride starting at the Linclon Hills trail head. On the way, we dropped off our son Alex at the Gravel Pits to work on his new trick jumps.

It was a beautiful evening and for some reason, nobody was out. Ellie was at a friends house and John and I were set to enjoy a good 2 hour ride.

After a fun hammer-sesh to get to the top, we dropped down for the fast single track descent.

John covered in pine needles and dirt to keep warm
It was just a little ways down from the top after the fun little log drop, and short little uphill that John hit a graded chatter section of the trail. He hit a deep divot and flipped over the handlebars. He was not wearing bike gloves, so with sweaty palms from the long uphill, his hands simply slipped off the bars.
Right when I got to him, John said "I broke something" - and then he passed out.

John covered with Pine Needles to keep warm - Search and Rescue crew arriving to assess John's injuries.
John has Vasogagal, which is an extreme fight or flight response.
His body simply shuts down when he gets injured and he passes out. The bummer is that he also has jerky muscle spasms, dilated open eyes, sometimes foaming at the mouth and shallow breathing mixed with sharp inhales that sound raspy. Sorta scary if you have never witness it. It looks like a seizure, but it is not one. John has had these episodes with me many times, my job is to stay calm and if we are skiing powder, keep his face out of the snow so he can breath till he comes back.
Usually it is about 30seconds to a minuet. However, this time John was out for over 10 minuets! This was not fun. I called 911 and my son Alex after a minute. I could not explain the location of our wreck to the 911 operator, but I knew that Alex could guide them to us. Alex was awesome. He told me later that when I called, he just knew that something had gone wrong. He road his bike all the way up to the Woods Gulch Trail head to meet with Search & Rescue.

The Life Flight Helicopter
While that was happening, 911 also set up a team from the other side of Marshall Mnt with 4 wheelers. Within about 30 minutes a St Patricks helicopter was zig zaging slowly up the mountain looking for us. We were in a pretty wooded area, so when it got close to us, I ran to an open area and waved with my white bike jersey like a mad-woman. Then it followed me to John I knew that they had our location.

It was pretty cool when the Helicopter was above us. It was only like 40ft from the ground and the trees were all swaying from the force of the propellers.

After it left I thought, GOOD! They know where we are and folks are coming from either side to help. It had been 40 minutes since the wreck. Now I had the problem of keeping John still. He wanted to get out and walk. He did not want the fuss of all the rescuers coming to help. I had just taken an HHP class at the University, so I used facts from my class to keep John still. He is a logical guy being a Math Professor, so it worked. I was worried about his back, neck or head injuries that I could not assess.

We all hear about guys wrecking and breaking a bone way back in the woods. Adrenaline kicks in as natures helper and people just hike out injured. But, I was there - so I said, "no way" - this became an issue because John started lose the adrenaline and the pain was sinking in. He was still in shock, but he was starting to get cold and his whole body started shaking. I took off my shirt and covered him, then looked around for my options.
I could not lay on him for body warmth since he had broken a bone, so I started covering him with dirt and pine needles. It really worked! I put about 8 inches of forest compost all over him from head to toe.

It was comforting to talk to Alex and get updates of where Search & Rescue was on the trail. We were WAYYYYYYYY up there! Alex broke away from the crew once they were finally on the right trail, and biked up with extra blankets. It was so great to have him arrive. Alex is the kid you want when things go bad. He is level headed and does not freak out. Many times we have run into bears, been in crazy lightning storms, been caught in a flood while backpacking (Milford Track), underground in caves, and caught in rips in the ocean - and he handles himself like a Pro. Of course this is good thing since all his sports are extreme in nature. It is comforting that Alex is so good under pressure.

When Search and Rescue arrived things moved quickly. This was good since it was 2 hours later. John wanted to walk, but after taking 3 steps he passed out again. So they strapped him into a cozy rescue bag and put him on the board. Alex went with 2 other EMT's with our mountain bikes down the trail, and John and I started up the mountain too the logging road above us since it was closer. The Six-Wheeler was awesome! They started up the trail, but ended up just plowing straight up the mountain taking out bushes & small trees. We finally got to the ambulance on the Marshall Mountain side with the sheriff waiting. Since they open any gates, the sheriff has to file a report with the country why the action was taken place. So we are on record now. :)

A big thanks goes out to Kurt Kuger for hiking up to check on us and helping Alex with our bikes at the bottom.
Also, my MT ALPHA Women's MTB Team was ready to come save us - they were ready with riders to jet up the mountain too. They sent food to the ER (yummy soup & salads from the goodfood store!) And Sarah Castle brought me home from the ER so I could change quickly and get cloths for John since sweaty spandex is awful 5 hours later.
Also, my Knitting group drove up to help too, we were gone already on the other side of the mountain, but they sent a delish blueberry dessert to the ER and Monica contacted one of my Professors since I had an Ethics final in the morning. *Also, thank you to Kylee's mom and dad for taking care of Ellie and letting her stay the night. We were at the hospital till midnight, so Ellie spent the night at her friends. Of course, Kadin - John's brother was a awesome being on call to drive us home from the hospital and help me get John upstairs without him passing out at midnight.

In the end, John broke his clavical (collar bone) into 3 sections. Heal time is pretty quick for that injury, so in 3-4 weeks he should be good.

Here is an edit Alex and I made in New Zealand - a spoof on "Born Survior"
Remember - this is joke.......

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