Skip to content

Unintended First Responder

The Unintended First Responder

So, I had an exciting day on the trail today. I was leaving the park after my hike when I came upon a man who was on the side of the road after crashing his bike. He looked like he was in a lot of pain and was bleeding from a few places. Luckily I keep a first aid kit in the back of my car for all the hikes I go on and decided to see if I could help. It was time for me to be an unintended first responder.

Now for all of you who have that first aid kit that you haven’t opened in the back of your car, go ahead and crack it open. Just to see what you have to work with. What I found was that I was fairly unprepared. My kit, which was one of those all in ones from store had more gauze than I knew what to do with and an equal amount of rubbing alcohol squares. What it was missing was a normal human sized band-aid. I had the pads that would cover an entire foot for the rare occasion your entire foot blisters. And then I had these tiny things that I thought I had to pick up with tweezers.

My best efforts

Never one to let a little obstacle like that get in my way, I put my many years of watching TV shows like ER, House and Scrubs to work. I handed the poor guy a gauze pad. That was helpful, and made my way to the micro band-aids. Most of the blood was coming from small cuts so for a second I thought maybe the kit knew more than me. Then I tried to put one on. I think instead of the bandage helping to stop the bleeding the blood just felt sorry for me and gave up. At least it kind of worked.

Next up was a shoulder that seemed like it may have been dislocated, or maybe a broken collarbone or scapula. Either way he was in a lot of pain. A pain I know well, the kind that makes your vision cross and your stomach to turn upside down. Luckily, after 4 shoulder surgeries I have a little experience with this one. I looked him dead in the eyes and said, “Shoulders suck man”. I think I might have to work on bedside manner in my next emergency situation.

He made it to his feet and I got him in the car and to the fee station where he could sit inside out of the sun. I improvised a sling out of a jacket to immobilize his arm while an employee called for an ambulance. I felt pretty good when the paramedics showed up and didn’t take off my wonderful make-shift sling. Maybe I got that part right!

I felt so bad for this guy, whose name I never even got, and sure do hope he is alright. He was heading to the hospital for what I hope is a night of decent rest. Because the one thing I know about shoulders is that it will hurt tomorrow…because shoulders suck.

The Great Outdoors

We all take risks when we go to the great outdoors. We mitigate the risks the best that we can but I’m sure for this fella, there was no place as lonely than the side of the road in the middle of a national forest.

His friends and the workers at the fee area that I took him kept thanking me but I didn’t even think about it. When we go into the great outdoors, they are great because of the people that we find there. Complete strangers that are bound by their want to explore. If somebody needs something, the next person is always quick to help in my opinion. If I was the one sitting on the side of the road I am sure that this man would stop for me and render whatever aide he could.

That is what makes hobbies like hiking, biking, camping so great. It isn’t the exercise. It is not the squirrels (don’t get me started on squirrels) it is that nobody is a stranger, just a friend we haven’t met yet. And hopefully everyone one is willing to help someone in need.

If anyone who reads this knows how this man is, please shoot me an email at

Lessons Learned

While I hope that today ends with as good as an outcome as possible for this fella, I think there are some lessons we can all share.

First off, check your First Aide kit. Make sure that it has what you think you will need. One piece of advice would be to get an ice pack or two. We had several first aid kits but none had an ice pack. That was one thing we really could have used.

Second lesson was that some locations, due to liability, will not allow their employees to render first aide. I understand the reasoning but it leaves a bit of a void. Just know that you may be the only person who is allowed to help your friend until paramedics arrive.

Third lesson which worked out wonderfully today was if you see something weird see what you can do. Several people stopped by and offered help, went to get help, went to find this man’s group who were about a mile or so away, and drove the group back so they could help out as well. Everyone really stepped up to make a difference.

And lastly, if you are out in some amazing spots enjoying nature, there is a good chance that your cellphone won’t work. This can cause some confusion and lets be honest. We are massively dependent on cellphones these days!

Be safe out there everyone!

More from the Fatman

If you enjoyed this post you may enjoy more of the posts on my Fatman’s Rambling page. Blogs such as “Hiking Alone not Lonely Hiking“, “Winslow, Arizona” and “Screw it, I’m Trying” as well as many others may interest you there. If you have any comments or topics you would like me to cover, feel free to email me at Or you can keep the conversation going by following me on any of the below social media platforms.

4 thoughts on “Unintended First Responder”

  1. You did an awesome thing by helping that biker! Good point about checking out the first aid kit. Keep hiking and sharing your experiences, I love reading them!

  2. What a good thing you did, but like you said outdoors people tend to be a community that come together when needed. I’m glad you were able to help and hopefully the biker is doing ok.

  3. Pingback: 2021 Review - Fat Man Little Trail

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: