This blog comes from Denver Bicycle Café regular Scott Houchin, Scott is a trained Medic who serves on a lot of popular organized cycling events. This is Part One of a two part story from his current trip back east for a series of cycling events, serving as a Medic, and some of his own touring with Colorado friends.
Into the land where nothing dries out, that is, east of the Mississippi. The land of humidity and, this time, the land of hurricanes. On this trip, I had three rides where I served as a medic, two in Kentucky and one in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and little did I know as I got on the plane, that two of the three rides would be VERY effected by hurricanes.
Up and down til the rains came down in Kentucky!
My first ride is normally a really great ride with three days over rolling hills in Kentucky horse country. Yes, I know, I am from Colorado and rolling hills should not be an issue. Well, the rolling hills of KY are NOT like training on Lookout Mountain in Golden, CO. In some ways it is a lot worse. When you ride up Lookout it takes about 30 – 45 minutes of climbing and then it is over. HARD but over. In Kentucky it never ends, down 300 feet and then up 300 feet – over, and over, and over again – non-stop, all day for as long as you ride. Then there are the horse farms, river towns, lakes, small farm towns, etc., and BOURBON. The Bourbon Distillers are everywhere and on this ride, we were going from distillery to distillery. So far, so good!
And then came Hurricane Harvey. After devastating Houston for days, it finally pushed up the Mississippi River Valley into the Ohio River Valley. Kentucky borders the Ohio River more than any other state. So we got clobbered. My first ride was on Labor Day weekend – Friday through Saturday, and then there is the Louisville Mayor’s Ride on Labor Day on Monday. The rain came in on Thursday and on Friday we got 5 inches of rain. They called off the Friday ride due to the rain and then on Saturday it “only” rained about 2 inches so they had the ride anyway.
I had met the ride organizer on an earlier Kentucky ride on Memorial Day weekend. This was the first time that he was director of this new Labor Day ride and he was excited about it. He had changed up the format and it was a three day ride – all out and backs from a central location. He was trying something new and he had put a lot of work into it. On the previous Memorial Day Ride I talked to him and he had a big smile talking about the upcoming changes, however, when I saw him on the 2nd day of this ride at 6:30 am with pouring down rain and the same forcasted throughout the whole day, he was wearing the full strain of the experience on his face.
Oh those Kentucky truck drivers
On Saturday morning there were about 40 hardy riders sitting on their bikes in pouring down rain. He was on the loud speaker, which was overkill since there were only 40 of us. To put it into perspective, usually that ride attracts about 400 – 800 riders while on this rain soaked morning we had about 40. However, it was well organized and we were standing in the parking lot of Heaven Hill Bourbon Distillery, one of our sponsors. Bourbon warehouses all around us. After his opening announcements to start the ride, he disappeared quickly!
Despite the fact the ride was on, I was not scheduled to be on the road. I was a medic at the biggest AID Station and actually only saw one patient all day. A rider had cuts and bruises on one ankle on both sides, which was a little odd. According to the rider, they were pushed from behind into a ditch by a truck. The truck tapped (nudged) the back wheel of the rider and they went flying into a ditch.
It is a matter of opinion, several folks did not believe the rider, thinking that the rider just made a mistake and went in the ditch by themselves, while several others totally believed that a truck in Kentucky would do that in a second. They had very little to NO respect for Kentucky drivers. As the medic, I write down what the patient stated. So “pushed by truck into ditch” it was.
“The sun will come out tomorrow”
Finally on day three of the ride, Hurricane Harvey moved on. It was a beautiful day. We “GOT ON OUR BIKES AND RIDE”, as the song goes. I often join the ride as a medic and I had not gone 2 miles before I had a patient with a dislocated elbow. Turns out the rider had a toe clip issue and just fell on their side, landing on their elbow and dislocating it. Extremely painful injury.
I know that it was a dislocated elbow, now, after the X-ray. However, while sitting on a street corner looking at the injury with a bone poking out about an inch under the arm cover, my first thought was that it was severely broken and dislocated. Treatment option based on that quick diagnosis is call 911. I have assisted putting dislocated bones back in place and 99 out of 100 times in the ER Doctors always do it. If you are out in the wilderness, treatment can be hours or days away from a hospital. The recommended treatment is to lay the patient on a table, placing a rope/twine around their wrist and then attach weight. Hopefully, the dislocated shoulder will slip back into place. If it doesn’t, simply attach more weight.
Well, that is the treatment in the wilderness for a dislocated shoulder BUT we were about one mile from a hospital, so I just called 911. There is a good reason for this. I have seen a Doctor, in the ER, put a dislocated shoulder back in place BUT nick an artery, which does not sound like much. It is much. All scheduled surgeries were put on hold and the patient with the nicked artery was wheeled into surgery and operated on immediately. A nicked artery (internal bleeding) can, and will, kill ya. So, I thought, WHY TAKE A CHANCE on nicking an artery with a hospital a mile away.
I later saw that patient dancing at the end of the day party. Besides being sent to the right place (the ER) to have the dislocation treated they also has great PAIN MEDS, which, as I watched the patient I treated this morning writhing with pain, now dancing this afternoon, I suspect was given VERY GOOD pain meds.
I was fortunate that there were no other incidents on day three and it was a great ride, (remember up 300 feet, down 300 feet and those distilleries?). Harvey had left the state.
Pedaling with a purpose
My next ride was the Bike to Beat Cancer ride in Norton’s Children’s Hospital in Prospect, Kentucky. I really like this ride. It is a one day out and back ride with options for centuries, metric centuries, half centuries, and quarter centuries (family rides). Probably anywhere from 400 to maybe 800 riders. The reason I really like this ride is the money raised from it goes to a great cause, fighting cancer. It is put on by a Hospital that treats cancer patients, mostly children, from all over the south. The whole concept of riding to stop cancer is never more than an arm’s length away. They treat riders that have survived cancer like kings and queens. For others, with friends or family who did not survive cancer, we ride and raise money in their memory.
I have too many family members and friends that died from cancer: my Dad, my Uncle Bill, one of my ole good mountain climbing pals, Lori Martin. I always think of them – a lot – every time I do this ride. In fact, the ride leaders basically MAKE you think of the people you have loved that have died due to cancer because this is a fund raiser to find cures. Many of the people riding are research types in the cancer field. I can say many things about Kentucky, some of which are not very complimentary. But, when it comes to medicine, they take it very seriously. Norton’s Children’s Cancer Hospital is at the top of the list nationally regarding cancer research.
So, on a personal level when a hugely successful hospital is putting on a fundraiser ride for substantial bucks (each rider had to raise a minimum of $500), I’m in. Many raised thousands. Thus, the ride was well funded too. Fantastic food, music, entertainment, excellent support, etc. A great ride and a great day for cancer survivors who are treated very well and excellent support.
I chose to join the half century, which was the most popular ride and where the patients are, and I did not treat any patients all day. I did catch the tail end of an accident as they were loading the patient into the ambulance. I found the riders buddies and called it in to the ride organizers (name of patient – what hospital he/she was being transported to – a few words on the injury). Turns out this patient went right over the handlebars and hit on their shoulder. Something had to give and it was the patients collarbone. Nothing glamorous or difficult, so the EMT’s immobilized the wound and transported to the hospital. For folks over 40 broken collarbones (clavicle) can get pretty complicated. Hopefully this one would be simple and the cyclist would only be out of the saddle for about only 3-4 months.
Best news! No hurricanes on this ride. It was a great day with excellent food, beer (after the ride) and entertainment. I will be coming back next year! You can find out about this ride at the official site for Bike to Beat Cancer ride for each calendar year (this is for the 2017 event). I’m also happy to tell you more about it if you see me at the Denver Bicycle Café. You can also read my blog on “Common Cycling Injuries” from the Denver Bicycle Café Blog, dated November 2016 http://denverbicyclecafe.com/category/news/