I have to say I’m a bit perturbed and wondering whether riding on the road in Melbourne between 7am and 8am in the morning is such a clever idea. Let me explain………
Last week, I’m riding back from Sandringham and I’ve managed to latch on a peloton that’s travelling about 30Km/h. I’m at the back and enjoying the slipstream on what has become a bright sunny day. The bunch turns the corner from St Kilda Rd into Marine Drive and speeds through Elwood. Suddenly, the bunch is breaking and zig-zaging. A few rude words go through my head, but I stay upright and moving. Thank God…
A few of bunch stop. I see the reason why. There’s rider down and he’s in bad way. He’s lost a lot of skin, he can’t move and he doesn’t know where he is. I pull over. Another rider and I move him off the road and lay him flat on the path. Someone’s taken bike off the side of the road and more riders are stopping. Traffic is breaking and moving out the lane.
I take a look at the rider, he’s bespectacled, in his 20’s and has gravel pock marks on his face that are bleeding. He’s in a lot of pain and going into shock. His mates turn up and are shocked by his condition. The rider’s name is Raf and the remains of his shredded jersey and bib shorts identifies him as a member of the St Kilda Cycling Club. I pull out my phone and call triple ‘000’. This poor guy needs an ambulance, quickly. I realise I haven’t called ‘000’ in a very long time. It feels surreal.
My call hits an IVR, I request ambulance and about 15 seconds later I’m talking to a human female operator. Good, I hate talking to phone robots with dysfunctional language recognition. By this time, Raf’s mates have twigged that medical help is needed and start pull out their phones. They are in shock but have regained their composure to act. One of Raf’s mates tells them not to call I’m already on the phone. One of them takes off their jacket and places it on Raf to keep him warm. Somehow, another of Raf’s mates has his Mother’s mobile phone number. She’s on her way to meet us.
The operator asks me some screening questions about Raf. This were I find out that Raf has somehow come off his bike at 45 km/h, detached, hit then bounced over the curb. He’s slid 6m on the gravel between the curb and footpath and collided with a No Standing sign. That must of really hurt. This were it becomes tricky. The operator wants to know our location. I haven’t got my glasses on. I ask one of the riders what the nearest cross streets. It’s Kingsley St, but the operator can’t find it. Some of the riders use their mobile phones to access Google Maps. The name of this road is confusing, it could be Marine Drive or Ormond Esplanade.
I’m really worried and becoming frustrated by how long this is taking. Finally, one of the riders identifies our location as 135 Marine Drive Elwood. This still doesn’t seem to help the operator. The same rider identifies St Kilda Road Brighton as the next major intersection. This seems gel with the operator and an ambulance is dispatched. Now we wait. I talk to two riders that seem to know him. Some of the other riders talk to Raf. He’s conscious and can speak. I hope these are good signs. I ring my wife and explain that I won’t be meeting her for coffee.
The Ambulance seems to take an eternity and worse still its headed up St Kilda Road. Riders wave trying to get the driver’s attention. Shit…the ambulance going the wrong way . I reach for my phone. Fortunately, it swings around comes towards us. Other riders start to leave. The show’s over. Raf’s mates speak to the two impossibly young paramedics who arrive on the scene. Dear God…they look like kids, there’s a Asian looking guy with goatee and strawberry blonde gal with her hair in a pony tail. They swing into action. The trolley is pulled out from the back of ambulance, along with a back board. They ask questions of riders who witnessed the accident. Apparently he’s jack-knifed his bike and gone over the handle bars.
Paramedics check Raf’s pulse and his blood pressure. He’s able to explain that his back and wrist are very painful. They wipe the blood from his face. Shit…he’s got gravel still embedded in skin of his face. I look at this helment. Its also pock marked with gravel, however it is still in one piece. I draw some comfort from this. He hasn’t landed on or hit the curb with his head. This explains why he’s conscious.
The Paramedics ask for assistance in rolling Raf onto the backboard and lifting him on to the trolley. I can’t help, I’ve got dodgy discs in my back. Raf’s mates help out. He’s being loaded into the ambulance. I say goodbye the riders I’ve been speaking to and collect my bike. They are figuring where they are going next. At this point, two people arrive. Judging by their age and gender, its Raf’s mother and sister. Their timing is impeccable as the ambulance is about to leave.
I place my bike on the road, mount the saddle and clip into the pedals. I ride along the road as it changes from Ormond Esplanade, to Marine Drive, to Jacka Boulevard and finally to Beaconsfield Parade. I wonder why it isn’t just called one bloody name. I’m soft pedalling and doing about 27 km/h. I’m really twitchy about the traffic and divert to the bike path as soon as I can. This morning has left me a little shaken and wondering how fine a line it is between cycling home to my wife and being in the back of an ambulance like Raf.
Until next time, ride safely,