I just wanted to let you know of an unexpected use that my Aerostitch Panniers were put to during a dual sport ride in New Mexico in March, 2002.
Six of us from Minnesota in need of some motorcycle riding headed for Las Cruces, NM for a week of dual sport riding. The first day found us headed for Kilbourne Hole, a steam volcano, that produced a depression of about 300 feet and 1 1/2 mile across when the steam vented and the molten lava collapsed. A few route options were available and arriving at the Hole by automobile was possible - ideally in a rented car but none the less possible. We were off to a good start with pavement left behind, a couple of gates already opened, and directions from a ranch wife that included an arm raised, pointed over her shoulder, and the words "over that way a ways."
The day was in the 70's but winds were 30-40 MPH, so drifting, blowing sand was present. Upon arriving at Kilbourne Hole, one of the crew found a large thorn protruding from their front tire. With the words "don't pull it out" being uttered by an observer, the thorn was pulled and a resulting hiss meant we were going to be fixing a tire. Care was taken to prevent sand from getting in the bearings, tire, eyes, mouth, etc., but that was all pretty much in vain as the sand was blowing everywhere. The repair was effective and so off we went again with Deming as the goal.
The route got very rocky and the day was quickly drawing to an end. Sharp black lava rocks, red rocks, round rocks, bedrock, rocks of all kinds. The trail split but with a quick exploratory ride, the left leg was determined to be the correct route. I was last to the trail fork so I waited for the other five to all get going on the correct route. A short distance down the trail, a large cloud of dust was raised by the rider in front of me. I thought that this wasn't a good sign but clearly didn't appreciate how serious it was to become.
The rider was still on the ground as I rounded the right hand curve with his right leg resting on the small fairing on his DR 400 Suzuki and in obvious pain. He quickly told me that it was bad, he had heard a snap, and it really hurt. I unzipped his Roadcrafter pants' leg, pulled up his jeans, and unzipped his boot. After carefully removing his boot, it was obvious that his foot was able to pivot about six to eight inches above his ankle. No obvious wound or blood but nonetheless a serious fracture was my conclusion based on Red Cross first aid training I had been through.
I was getting a fleece jacket out of my pack to put under his leg when one of the other riders returned to check on us. A quick discussion between the two of us concluded with him leaving us a space blanket and small fleece from his seat while he set of to tell the others of the situation and to seek professional aid. I started looking for splinting material but the only natural things of any substance that I could find had thorns growing out of them and were not useable.
As I was mentally going over the spartan provisions carried on my ATK, I remembered the plastic pieces that give the Aerostich Panniers their shape. They were quickly removed and although my first attempt to use them for a splint wasn't successful due to the tape getting tangled in the high winds, two nylon straps were used and the splinting process completed. The downed rider indicated that the splint was very effective in reducing his pain. With the leg stabilized, we proceeded to prepare for an expected wait for the professional rescue effort. Fluids, a couple of energy bars, another long sleeved shirt, an Aerostich fleece, his Roadcrafter jacket, and a space blanket proved to be adequate protection from the high desert night temperatures. My fleece was used for a pillow to support the injured leg.
Our location was thought to be 20-40 miles from Deming, NM and we could see lights from the direction we assumed to be Deming. Our rescue was uncertain at this point in time so we tried to prepare for a long wait in temperatures expected to be in the high 30s to low 40s. The stars were spectacular, lots of commercial air traffic overhead, and one satelite was observed traveling west to east. We both stared at lights in the distance and mentally got them to move, indicating rescue was on the way, when in fact it was so dark that our perspective was incorrect and after a few minutes we knew the lights were in fact stationery.
After about five hours when the rescue effort did appear, it was quite abrupt. The brush and the rescuers' route brought them up a dry wash and around a small bluff, preventing us from seeing their headlights until they were quite close to us. It was a Jeep station wagon and Ford Bronco, both 4x4, from Columbus, NM. The rescue team, made up of EMT, fire department, and law enforcement all admitted to never having been on that particular trail past a point about a mile from our location, because it was too rough.
The EMT commented on the effectiveness of the splint constructed from the plastic in the Panniers and applied an air splint over the top. The rider was secured in a plastic toboggan with a nylon harness and he was loaded into the back of the old Jeep station wagon. About 45 minutes was needed to cover something just short of a mile due to the rocks being driven on and the discomfort of the rider with the broken leg. After the rocks, it was loose sand following the same dry wash. Eight to ten miles down the dry wash, the ambulance was waiting and provided the transport from there to Deming and ultimately on to El Paso, TX for an orthopedic surgeon that would mend the fracture of both bones with stainless steel and screws.
Aerostich Panniers work very well for transport of items needed for traveling in the high desert with a dirt bike but in addition can provide materials much needed to prevent further injury to someone with a fractured leg or arm. Both Deming and El Paso medical staffs commented very favorably on the effective splinting job that was done as a result of having four pieces of fairly rigid plastic and two nylon straps. It's a real advantage to have items along on a dual sport adventure that can serve multiple purposes. The Aerostich Panniers did exactly that. A very useful and effective product.
- Milo Bjerke (2002), Aerostich Customer