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Mock rescue about training

HANGING ROCK — For every mile of paved road in Lawrence County, there are 15 miles of scenic, yet dangerous, ATV paths that twist and turn through the hills of the Wayne National Forest.

Those remote, yet picturesque, trails can be an ATV devotee’s dream — or on the very rare occasion — a rider’s worst nightmare.

Saturday, ATV enthusiast Ron Massie was a part of those rare nightmares, if only for a brief period of time.

Massie — part of a ever-growing teenage ATV population — was found lying in the underbrush and leaves after falling out of his ATV while riding the Wayne National Forest trails near Hanging Rock.

Lying motionless on the steep slope some five yards from the trail, Massie wasn’t sure if he had injured his head despite wearing a helmet. Not wanting to move in the fear of further injuring himself, he had no idea if or when help would arrive.

Then, out of the corner of his eye, the teen spots a man in a blue shirt and hat coming towards him. It is Jeff Scott from Upper Township Fire Rescue. Approaching, Massie tells Scott about the fall and his head. Comforting him, Scott explains the rescue procedure they are going to use and urges Massie to continue to lay still.

Within minutes, members of Upper Township ATV Rescue, Patriot Ambulance, Wayne National Forest and the Hanging Rock ATV Club Trail Patrol appear on the scene ready to assist.

With delicate caution, Scott and five others carefully immobilize Massie’s head while placing a blue retractable backboard underneath his now angled torso.

Following the tightening of several straps, the teen is lifted and carried back to the trails where an Upper Township ATV towing a rescue basket awaits.

With a purposeful watch, rescue workers power their ATV’s towards the Patriot ambulance waiting on a much-wider and accessible county road. There, Massie is lifted from the rescue basket, placed on the ambulance gurney and lifted into the rescue vehicle.

The doors close, yet the ambulance doesn’t speed away.

Instead the rear doors of the ambulance reopen, the gurney is unloaded, the backboard straps untied and miraculously Massie stands up and walks away under his own power with a sly smile.

No, Massie was not instantly cured of his wounds in the ambulance — actually Massie wasn’t injured at all. His “injuries” and subsequent rescue were all part of a mock-rescue designed to education ATV riders as the 2009 riding season kicks off.

Much of the seminar focused on treating those with head injuries suffered in ATV falls or rollovers.

“The mentality of pulling people from the scenes of accidents needs to change immediately,” said Scott who headed-up the seminar. “Riders need to know what to do when they are involved or come across an accident.”

Scott gave those in attendance the first and most important rule when assisting someone who might have head or neck injuries from an ATV fall.

“Never, ever try to remove the helmet off of a crash victim.”

Besides the additional damages removing a helmet might cause the victim, participants were told that the damage a helmet incurs during a crash is key for doctors in determining the amount of force the head took on impact and how to treat the patient.

Scott, along with Rob Blankenship from Patriot Ambulance, gave a tutorial on how to move a person onto a backboard, assist on putting a head and neck collar on and how to apply head blocks to an injured patient.

Blankenship also suggested items that all ATV riders should carry with them on the trails if at all possible during the 2009 ATV season that runs from April 15 through Dec. 15.

“Besides a means of communication, riders should carry a basic first aid kit with them along with having a trail map or GPS system to know where they are or to give rescue instruction,” Blankenship said.

Nationwide, ATVs seriously injure and kill more than 150,000 riders annually, including 40,000 teens.

And for Scott, that’s why mock-rescues like today are so important.

“It’s not a matter of if something is going to happen, but when something will happen.”