Administration and Leadership, Columns

National EMS Memorial Capital-to-Capital Bike Ride Enters New Haven, Conn., on Day 9

Entry 9: Mission Impossible

“Good morning! Your mission, Muddy Angels, should you decide to accept it, is to cycle over 91 miles from Sturbridge, Mass., to New Haven, Conn. As usual, should any of your group become lost or fail to find a Dunkin’ Donuts along the way, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck Muddy Angels.”

Awakening to begin another leg of the ride at times can feel like something out of Mission Impossible, especially when the weather forecast calls for cold temperatures and windy conditions. An hour before the morning briefing meeting, cyclists load their luggage, prepare their bikes and grab a quick bite of much-needed coffee grounds embedded in sugar-coated fiber. Everyone is polite to each other, but you can see it in their eyes that secretively they yearn for closure (of their eyes) to sleep just one more hour or 22.

The temperature was indeed cold outside—43 degrees to be exact, but with the added wind chill factor that came to 43 degrees minus 43 degrees. There is a conflict within the biker’s psyche at this point: One wants to cycle on flat terrain, but to stay warm during such chilly conditions, one needs to climb hills to create heat in their muscles.

Everyone carries cycling clothing to stay warm, but there’s a limit to how much you can layer and still look cool. And as we already know, it’s hard to look cool on a bicycle wearing a helmet that looks like an alien-shaped spaghetti strainer.

The photo above captures, what I believe, is the essence of how dedicated these cyclists are to this ride’s mission, despite the lack of sleep, harsh weather and long hours on the saddle. I remember this young lady riding last year. Unfortunately, I do not know her story of why she rides. I only took the photo before this morning’s briefing because I originally found it humorous to see this participant falling asleep while in the act of eating an apple.

Tonight, as I write this article, I have fallen asleep myself several times mid-sentence. At that point I again reexamined the photo and decided, at least for me, that this young lady captured the essence of what others in EMS are willing to endure and sacrifice to bring public awareness of PTSD and LODDs for prehospital care providers. She is a hero in my book, even if she did almost sleep through this morning’s debriefing.

Others may interpret this image as just another example of futility – a mission impossible for our profession. Then again, these are the same people who have probably been asleep the whole time anyway, so they don’t really matter right now. What does matter is a showing of your support for these riders and support staff who have partaken in this journey. So please, at the very least, take the time to thank them for their efforts to help us help ourselves. They have sacrificed much to be here.

Well, enough said. I can’t concentrate anyway. My roommate is snoring too loud.

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