A story of caution & responsibility. Readable in less than 3 minutes?
This could be any day. It has actually many days. if fact, you’d be surprised how many days it turned out to be! Here is a tale of woe that ruined 5 peoples day and a young man’s month. (I assume)
It’s a recent Saturday and I’m standing in the buzzards Nest Car Park at Glentress. I have my mountain bike tuition hat on. Fully fed, rested and motivated, I put down my risk assessment and start chatting with my client. It was a windy morning, but I swear I heard a voice shout “help” Hmmm, I thought? “HELP” came the cry once more. Did you hear that? I said to my client. Hear what? he said. HELP… we need HELP! Shouted a flailing figure emerging from the freeride Area.
Long story short, there were 3 lads, early 20s on recreational, low end hard-tails, dressed for the spring and completely unprepared for the scene that was waiting for me. Their friend, a young man in his early 20’s was out cold, not moving, with his extremities pointed in every directing apart from the right ones. In and out of conciseness, freezing cold with the side of his face swollen and cut in a bad way. He’d apparently ridden the wooden drops and hit the jump at the bottom carrying way too much speed, hit the jump, then cartwheeled his way to unconsciousness. A pretty serious accident as it turned out.
I won’t go into the details of how these guys did not have any idea what to do with their friend, who to call or what to tell them this situation. But by the end of the whole scenario he was in a state of continuing shock and borderline hypothermic despite lying on a matt with my coat on, a silver blanket on, an orange blanket on and inside an emergency shelter. At the time, this one really did seem like a close call. The guys didn’t know his full details, his full name, his next of kin, any of his friends and family or pertinent information about him either. They were friends from Uni just out to ride at Glentress. Their pal was also the driver, so they were stuck at Glentress in the rain with a broken bike and the worry of it all.
So the upshot of this all was the following:
- One seriously injured young man with a potentially serious head injury.
- Two stranded, cold and shocked young guys.
- A callout for both the Police and ambulance service.
- A wasted 100m round trip for me. (had to cancel my client)
- Possible loss of earnings for me.
- A wasted journey for my client.
- A possible refund for my client with possible bad press for Ridelines.
- Cost of equipment left at the scene.
- Ongoing medical consequences for the downed rider.
Now accidents will happen, but these guys were just out of their depth in challenging conditions, riding beyond their capabilities. The picture below is the result.
A while ago we posted on facebook about the amount of time and money we spent on first aid over just one month this summer. The post caused a lot of feedback, and although not one of these costs incurred were spent one our clients, being on the hill with a big backpack and a uniform essentially puts a target on your back for such things. I’m sure lots of our colleagues at other MTB companies can relate?
So in short this is not a lecture, more of a cautionary tail. Be prepared folks, know your limits and how to act should you be as unfortunate as our friends above. Heres a few tips.
For mechanicals try to carry at least the following:
- A spare tube.
- Tyre levers.
- A quality pump.
- A quality multitool with a chain-tool.
- A spare “quick link” for your chain.
For your wellbeing:
- At least a litre of water.
- Some high carb food or energy bars.
- A fully charged phone.
- Some money.
- A small first aid kit.
It goes without saying that you should know how to change a tube (video here) and join a chain (video here) you’d be surprised at how many people that carry stuff don’t know how to use it. Your first aid kits need mainly bandages and stuff to stop bleeding as apart from broken bones, bleeding is easily the most common symptom of an accident that we come across.
A rule of thumb (not hard and fast) an ambulance will usually only efficiently attend an actual postcode, so at least have that. Although these can be miles in length and useless if you have no door number. Usually though out on more remote trails and trail centres, you should be calling the police and asking for Mountain Rescue. For that, you’ll likely need a grid reference. There’s plenty of free phone apps that will do that for you too. But really it’s best to know where you are and be able to read a map to a basic level.
Also, you could get yourself on a first aid course? You’d be amazed at the minimum you could do just to make someone comfortable or even save their life?
Anyway, have a great 2019, be safe out there and look after your MTB brothers and sisters!