Renee Petersen had worked every Bendigo International Madison for the past 12 years as a nurse in the emergency department of Bendigo Hospital. This year she took the evening off to watch the race and enjoy her night.
But she ended up working anyway.
Ms Petersen spent her evening taking care of an injured cyclist after a crash which meant four riders and one spectator were taken to hospital.
Ms Petersen was halfway through a glass of wine and a meal, when she turned around to see the tail end of the crash.
She can’t quite put her finger on what alerted her to it. It might have been the noise, or it might have been the gasp of someone behind her.
She walked over to see if St John’s Ambulance needed assistance. A chaotic scene greeted her.
“I thought, ‘There’s too many numbers, they’re going to need some help’,” Ms Petersen said.
“The very first thing was, ‘There’s going to be head trauma, there’s going to be neck trauma, there’s going to be chest trauma, and all of those things are a threat to life’.
“I thought, ‘If I can just get over there and make sure there’s enough hands there, I might just be able to save a bad outcome.’”
It was almost an instinctual response that kicked in when she got to the scene, Ms Petersen said. She could see several cyclists on the grass, but they were sitting up and talking, so she knew they didn’t need her help.
It was the ones not moving – the spectator and Japanese cyclist Minori Shimura – who really concerned her.
Ms Petersen went directly to Shimura. She checked the injured spectator, but found he was being cared for by an emergency physician who had been watching the race.
“This is work that anyone in the emergency department does every single day, seeing that sort of trauma. So my response to it was exactly what I would do at work,” she said.
“His airway was OK, he was breathing, so I immediately checked his pulse to see what was his blood pressure like, what was his heart rate like, and that was OK. My first priority, was to stabilise his neck.
“Someone got me a tablecloth and rolled it up so I could make a neck brace, and then cut his shirt off to make sure he didn’t have any chest injuries.”
Ms Petersen isn’t even sure how long she spent helping. She thinks maybe 15, or 20 minutes, but others there said it was up to an hour.
She praised the efforts of the St John’s Ambulance volunteers who were first on the scene, and Shimura’s translator who helped to keep the cyclist calm.
“The St John's Ambulance volunteers did an amazing job … they really should be commended for the work they did there,” Ms Petersen said.
“It might be nice there if they had some other paramedical support thought for that sort of race.
“The volunteers are fantastic ... but I think they need someone there in case of that sort of incident.”
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