Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Final Chapter

Last week a fire department in a mid size town in Quebec organized a half marathon for firefighters from all over. A 21 years old fireman died while running. This young man was fit, he had previously run half marathons. I'm sure because of his job, he must have passed medical tests to gain employment. But he died! 21 years old.
The organization had everything ready for any emergencies, hey they are firemen, they had doctors, defibrillators, ambulance, but it was not enough to save this young man.
If you think about it; The young fireman could have died when going into a burning house to rescue someone. His heart was the problem, he was a ticking bomb. His death had nothing to do with running, it could easily have happened while doing his job and might even have added another victim!
When I joined the Canadian Armed Forces, I was 17. Every year we had to run a mile and a half. Men had to complete it in 12 minutes and women in 14 ½  minutes. I never had any problem running, I could run it in less than 10 minutes. I would do my run and then I would run along my wife who you couldn't call Speedy Gonzales... Running was just not her thangs, you could say. Running beside her, she would focus on my footsteps and it distracted her from the run itself and it allowed  her to qualify. In the eighties, the run was canceled after someone died while running it.
You might think in conclusion that running can be a risky business, but it's not the case. I believe more people get a better quality of life because they are training then there are who die from it.
I meant to talk about running training but I'll keep that for another post and I'll continue with death. Strange where my mind goes sometimes...
The reality is that we are all going to die, some too young but never too old. You can't let death be your driving force, even if you stay home in a padded room, you will not survive.
People die while eating at their favorite restaurant. Often they choke on food and to not get embarrassed they go to the washroom to clear their throat. Unfortunately, no one sees how serious it is and they choke to death.
You can get killed crossing the street. I have been to London and on the side walk they had written “Look right for traffic” for us tourist. Maybe it's thanks to those indications that I'm still breathing!

I remembered one statistic I read mentioning you had a better chance to die from a lightning strike than winning the big one at the lotteries.
I don't know if you’ve seen this before but it cracks me up every time:
This man was in an accident (work accident, not car accident), so he filled out an insurance claim. The insurance company contacted him and asked for more information. This was his response:
I am writing in response to your request for additional information for block number 3 of the accident reporting form. I put 'poor planning' as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully and I trust the following detail will be sufficient.
I am an amateur radio operator and on the day of the accident, I was working alone on the top section of my new 80 foot tower. When I had completed my work, I discovered that I had, over the course of several trips up the tower, brought up about 300 pounds of tools and spare hardware.
Rather than carry the now un-needed tools and material down by hand, I decided to lower the items down in a small barrel by using a pulley, which was fortunately attached to the gin pole at the top of the tower. Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the top of the tower and loaded the tools and material into the barrel.
Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the 300 pounds of tools. You will note in block number 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh only 155 pounds. Due to my surprise of being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope.
Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate of speed up the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40 foot level, I met the barrel coming down. This explains my fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley.
Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold onto the rope in spite of my pain. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of tools hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel.
Devoid of the weight of the tools, the barrel now weighed approximately 20 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the tower.
In the vicinity of the 40 foot level, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, and the lacerations of my legs and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of tools and, fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the tools, in pain, unable to stand and watching the empty barrel 80 feet above me, I again lost my presence of mind. I let go of the rope . . .


  1. Just got your comment, my Wonder Woman dress is at the cleaners.

  2. I laughed too! Then I wondered why I laughed. Human nature is weird.

    The running being dangerous thing made me think of anti-vaxxers. People do occasionally die or otherwise react badly to a vaccination. I personally know someone whose daughter went from a normal baby to severely mentally disabled. A horrible and very sad situation. Yet vaccinations save so many lives, many many more than they harm. You have to look at the balance.

    Exercise can cause injury or death. But not exercising can cause obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure etc etc ... and death.

    1. Yes Yes Yes Natalie exactly my point. I also think that 21 years old young firefighter, if he didn't trained might even have died earlier.

  3. Sometimes there are undetected health issues, especially of the heart. I wonder if that was the case with this young man. It is quite tragic at that age.

    1. He couldn't be a firefighter if he had heart problem detected. A few year back, a hockey player from the NHL collapsed when he returned to the bench. He had a heart condition, even athlete who are being follow closely can have an undetected health issue. We never really know!

  4. Huh, I remember you reading or telling us this story and laughing and laughing! :)


    1. I don't know if it's true but I can visualize so much the accident!