Cycling to work in Victoria, I rounded a notorious sharp
downhill bend on Old Esquimalt Road to find a cyclist lying on the other
side of the road. A 52-year-old on a cruiser, he had misjudged the
corner, gone wide and come off. Three people were on the scene: one was
just standing looking at him, one was calling an ambulance, and another
was berating the victim for his stupidity. I checked him over and found
a dislocated knee and a probable collarbone fracture, but he was fully
conscious. I made him comfortable and we waited for the ambulance.
Meantime, a friend of the victim happened to pass by, and we loaded the
victim's bike into his van. After 20 mins, the ambulance arrived and
they scooped him up onto the stretcher. The paramedic said to me
"where's his helmet?" I replied that we were putting it in the van with
the bike to drop off at the victim's house. "Oh no" demanded the
paramedic in authoritarian fashion, "I'll take that". He looked at the
helmet (a plain white polystyrene affair which had clearly not even
contacted the pavement) and immediately began admonishing the victim -
before he was even in the ambulance! "You and I need to talk", he said
to the poor embarrassed and crippled fellow. "This helmet should have a
hard shell!" Quite unable to believe my ears, I pointed out that the
victim had not fallen on his head - to which the oh-so-knowledgeable
paramedic replied "If he had, we would be here scooping up his remains".
My suggestion that what the victim needed was a hard shell for his knee
was met with a 'does not compute' look. And with that, they put the
helmet into the ambulance with the victim and drove away.
I wonder if
they allowed his mashed knee to be repaired before they lectured him on
helmet design. I doubt they would be regaling him with stories of their
own cycling experience.
Originally posted on bc.cycling newsgroup.
Andy Reynolds is a cyclist in Victoria, British Columbia