It’s a scene that any person would dread seeing.
An accident involving a motorcyclist on a highway seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The victim lying sprawled out along the ground, unconscious. Witnesses gathered around unsure of what to do.
The scene was all too real for Saanich’s Cynthia Reid.
Reid was on her way to a dog show in Calgary on July 22, when she came across a motorcycle accident roughly 40 minutes outside Lake Louise on Highway 93.
“I rolled down my window and just said ‘Do you need my help?’ and when they said yes, I sprang out of the car and opened up his leather jacket. When I looked at him, I thought holy moly, and I just thought I better get to work right now because he’s dying now,” she said.
Reid sprang into action.
“I ran over and they had just taken off his helmet and he was laying on his side. He was a big heavy set man,” said Reid, who worked as a critical care nurse for more than 25 years. “He was cyanotic to the point that I looked at him and he was navy blue . . . he was dying before my eyes.”
Reid established the man had a heart rate, but he wasn’t breathing, so she tried to open his airway. She turned him on his back, praying he didn’t have any spinal injuries, and stuck a pen on one side of his teeth and a six-inch leather knife sheath that she takes with her hiking on the other to hold his mouth open.
Roughly 15 to 30 minutes after she opened his airway, the man eventually came to.
Within half an hour RCMP arrived on scene, followed by Lake Louise Fire and Rescue and an air ambulance.
“He was semi-conscious and doing things that I asked him like squeeze my fingers, move his feet. I tried to keep him still. Gradually he woke up,” she said.
The man was Don Brown and he was transported to Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, where Reid visited him following the accident.
He was on a two-week ride with three other couples through southern B.C., and 24 hours from home when he was in the accident.
His wife Maggie said the driver in front of Don didn’t see him signalling to turn left. He hit the truck and flipped over the handle bars. He ruptured his liver which caused abdominal bleeding, had a brain bleed, a broken collarbone and nine broken ribs.
“I was crying I was so thankful, I just kept hugging her,” said Maggie. “It was this phenomenal act of bravery and just to have her quick thinking and using whatever she had to pry open my husband’s mouth is unreal. She’s his guardian angel. He breaks down whenever he hears Cynthia’s name.”
Brown is now recovering at home, but still doesn’t remember the accident. Maggie hopes to nominate Reid for a medal of bravery.
But Reid was quick to note, she was just in the right place at the right time.
“Nursing becomes part of you, wherever you go, even though you don’t want to hear is there any medical personnel on board?” she said. “This one just went well. Timing is everything. He’s here and he will ride again, but I’d never been so glad to see someone dressed properly.”