I had to re-up my CPR certification last week. As part of CSCS wtih the NSCA…. (certified strength and conditining specialist with the National Strength and Condtioning Association) which I have to re-certify every few years, and a current CPR cert if required. I can’t really argue with that. In all of my years of working with clients in the gym and on the field I have never had to call on any life saving tehcniques, but you know how that goes? You say someting like “that” and the next day someone pases out and needs rescue breaths and chest compressions. I’m ready- at least the info. is really fresh in my mind.
I got my CSCS cert in the Spring of 98’ in NYC but a year prior I took the ACE exam (your basic study for a week or so type personal trainer test- I admit it!) and needed the cpr for that too, so I have been fluent in cpr speak for quite some time now. And when I sign up for one of these classes, it’s usually a weekday late in the afternoon set-up, for 5 hours of classroom and practical led by a cerified cpr tech. It’s always interesting because you get people from ALL walks of life- but other thatn that, the materail takes about 2 hours to cover but for whatever reason I think “they” think of the class is longer is will be more meaningful With the dawn of the AED (automatic external defibraltor), you don’t really need to do much, just open the case and listen to the robot voice tell you what to do.
Last weeks class had a 55 yr old, 300 lb “security” gaurd, a gent who was trying to get a job as a high school wrestling coach, a woman who runs a homeless shelter, a woman who spoke such bad English I have no idea what her reason for being there was, but she needed a larger shirt (I’ll leave it at that), a guy in a golf shirt, golf pants, golf hat and who talked about golf- he might have been a little drunk, and another woman who worked with disabled kids. And then me. I didn’t bother saying what I did other than that I operated a small business- it didn’t seem worth it to go into detail. And so the class went on. And as is often the case with these refresher courses my mind wandered and I thought about the times in the past- crashes in bike races, where I witnessed some life saving techniques in action and never are the situations as contained or straightforward as the “real life” videos they show in these classes. I thought of 3 crashes that I witnessed or was a part of in the past that I’ll mention, not because I like re hashing bad crashes but most people like a story and I can tie it/them into the fabric of my cpr re-fresher course material.
At Redlands in 2004 there was a nasty crash on stage 2? Maybe 3. We were descending a pretty shallow grade really fast and it was really hot out. I was in the front middle of the group and Dave Zabriskie- riding for Postal at the time, hit a crack in the road and lost the front end of his bike causing a massive pile up at aorund 40 mph. I had nowhere to go but into the pile. I remember hitting it without even coming close to braking and flipping over the bars, landing on my right forearm and having my legs fold over me and then having someone land on me- grinding my arm into the pavement. SUCK! When I finally got pulled from the pile there were guys all over the gound. Dave was bleeding from his ears and mouth and totally passed out- really not good. Mechanics and directors were running all over the place. It was mayhem and probably 25 guys where a part of he mess- none as bad off as Dave. I seemed ok, except for the gusher in my forearm. I basically had a hole up near my elbow and the pain was setting in. FLASH: to the video in cpr clsss on heavy bleeding. I was definitley light headed, not feelig right and bleeding heavy. I needed a compress. I got a rag from my mechanic, which he tied around my arm and put me back on my bike- we were 10 miles form the finsish and did not want to be out of the race. I don’t rememeber riding to the finish but I made it and went right to medical where I got what I needed. No stitches for the hole, just a big ass gauze. Zabriskie got air lifted out and lived to fight another day. A month later I showed up at the tour of Georgia with a rollerblade elbow pad on my arm- the hole was not all good just yet. Seems like whenever I crash, I land on that same area.
At the 2005 Fitchburg Longsjo Classic I witnessed the crash that almost ended Henk Vogels’ career. It was the Wachusette Mtn RR day- again it was HOT and I was in a group with Henk and about 6-7 others about 1 min up on the field and we were bombing the long and pretty straight descent on the course at around 50 mph. I was towards the back of the group and I saw Henk look back while in full super tuck to see where the group behind was at. As he did that he drifted to the right a bit and crossed the rear wheel in front of his and CRASHED……. hard. He bounched up and into a gaurd rail and did a serious number on himself. The race was stopped and he was hospital bound, but it took some time to get emergency personel to the scene. FLASH: back to class and the video of the person in an auto accident. In the video things are pretty calm and no one is screaming or really bleeding all over the place. Having the skill and where with all (is that one word?) to put it into practice right then and there is something you hope someone has- you might night actually save someones life. That was scary. I had the skills to get involved but someone else did. To this day I kick myself for not being more pro active but Henk got the care he needed and a year later (long time) , he was back in the group. As a side note, he is one of the top 3 toughest bike riders I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.
In the 2006 TOC, stage 3, there a a crash RIGHT at the end of the neutral roll out, on the day we were heading down the PCH right next to to the ocean- big cross wind day. My teamate Zack Grabowski went down hard in the pile up and was totally (I guess he either was or wasn’t- totally just sounds more extreme) knocked out- he looked dead to me. I missed going down but came to a halt behind the stack and saw Zack on the ground. I straight up panicked because he looked dead to me. I stopped and waited as medical personel rushed to the scene. The peleton led by Gerolsteiner was NOT waiting and was ripping down the road. Noramally the roll out and the first few miles are pretty low key so I figured I would be able to ride back through the cars and back into the group. My Teammate Davide Frattini was with me and we both waited to make sure Zack got what he needed. FLASH: I should be checking his airway, checking him for bleeding, etc etc. That’s what my mind did NOT go to. I was freaked out and even more so when I realized we had to bolt to get back into the race. Long story, or short story short, Davide and I chased like mad men to get back on. The field was flying down the road in the cross winds and guys were getting shelled. Our team car was back with Zac so we had no one to give us an illegal draft back up! I went into panic mode and my legs were LOADED. I was really ready for this race- meaning i was hopefull that I could maybe do a top 30 (20-30) place- just keeping it real, the field was pretty stacked.
Our team car finally came up to us, Zack was fine, and we were on the bumper at 45 plus. AND… that was not enough. The moto judge kept coming back and giving us a hard time and eventually just left us so we grabbed onto the car and were instructed to “NOT let go” by our director. I’m not sure how fast we were going but I can tell you that it was not safe for me at all. In fact, I started to panic a little, especially as we were rounding some bends by the ocean and the g forces were adding to my panic. I let go. Davide made it back to to the group. I was left in no mans land and rolled up on a random rider every few miles. My TOC was over. I can’t be mad about stopping for a friend in need but the reality is that my stopping made 0 diferrence, it only made for the excuse as to why my race ended early. Maybe I would have won the stage and gone onto ride for some euro team. But probably not. Things happen so fast sometimes, even when they happen in slow motion that you can’t always make the “right” move. Maybe I did. Regardless, Zack ended up just fine. I got to go home early. Not awesome.
The 5 hours went by pretty quicly when I factor in all the day dreaming. there was no written test but I can honestly say I walked out of there with my cpr skills up to date. So don’t hesitate to let me give you emergency care should the situation present itself.