Editor's note:This story contains very graphic descriptions of emergency room situations.
SALT LAKE CITY — Warmer weather is upon us, which means more people living it up in the outdoors. Also, the number of motorcycles on the road increases significantly. With the influx in motorcycles there is also an increase in the number of motorcycle-related injuries and crashes we see in the ER.
During the spring and summer months, it almost seems like a daily occurrence that we get someone in who has been injured on a motorcycle. Sometimes it is the fault of the motorcyclist but many times it is not. Either way, they are the ones who usually end up with more severe injuries.
I never understood why people who ride motorcycles don’t wear helmets and other protective gear that could easily save their life or significantly reduce serious injuries. I have witnessed numerous times in the ER a situation where if patients were just wearing a helmet, they could have avoided an extended stay in the hospital and incredibly large medical bills.
One time I took care of a middle-aged gentleman who was intoxicated (his first bad choice) and tried to get on his motorcycle and drive back to his house. Before getting much faster than 15 mph, he lost control, hit a curb, fell off the motorcycle and hit his head on the concrete.
When he came into the ER he was confused, combative, and told us he had “a splitting headache.” He ended up having a fracture in his skull sustained when his head hit the ground. If this man had only been wearing a helmet (and not trying to drive drunk) he would have sustained very minor injuries and probably would have gone home. Instead, he spent several days in the intensive care unit. That is an example of the tens of thousands of dollars that could have been avoided had he worn a helmet, not to mention the unnecessary pain and nausea.
Several years ago, I was driving on I-80 in southern Wyoming. The westbound lanes had been merged into the eastbound lanes because they were doing construction. I had my two sons in the back of the car with me.
We were traveling behind two motorcycles going about 60mph. It was a windy day — I know, shocking for southern Wyoming — and in a split second, a gust of wind blew the front motorcyclist into oncoming traffic. There was a horrific sound as the motorcycle collided head-on with the car in the other lane. Before I realized what happened, I had driven through the mess of metal and smoke, not sure exactly what was going on.
I have taken care of people with almost every affliction, sickness, or ailment and have seen some really gross things — but never in my life had I seen something like this first hand. I was scared. The first thing I saw as I stepped out of my car was the severed right leg of the gentleman from the motorcycle — it was lying next to my car about 30 feet from his body. I also noticed that the entire left side of my car was speckled with blood from the hood to the bumper.
I ran to the gentleman on the road that had been hit. He was heavily geared up so I pulled his coat down to see his face. He was not breathing, had no pulse and was contorted in a position I knew was not compatible with life. I then went over to the car of people who had been hit. They all had very minor injuries but were shaken up tremendously.
I often reflect on that experience and can remember it like it was yesterday. I thought of how fast a person’s life could change. I felt incredibly sad for that gentleman and his family for the tragedy that came to them because if it.
These are just two stories out of hundreds I could tell involving motorcyclists. I hope those who ride motorcycles and are reading this article will consider, if not already, wearing a helmet and other protective gear as they ride on the roads. I also hope that people in cars will pay more attention to motorcyclists that are on the road so they can prevent a tragedy as well.