On the 11th anniversary of 9/11 our thoughts and prayers are with all of the families who lost loved ones. We felt the following quote was quite poignant today…..
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi
We originally published the following story by riders4helmets supporter Ann Cavanaugh entitled “The Story of Two Helmets” in April 2011 and thought it would be nice to re-post it again today in honor of 9/11. (Note: Ann if you read this, please get in touch and let us know how you are doing).
Peace in this world is great in this world. Let us Hope as One…..
The Story of Two Helmets – by Ann Cavanaugh (originally published April 2011)
I have two helmets; one for work, and one for riding. I’ve had these helmets for a long time; The colors and styles have varied, but I’ve always had two. Now, one of those helmets is no longer used, because of a few seconds that changed my life. So, which helmet is on the shelf? The answer may surprise you.
April 28, 2008, was a beautiful spring day, warm and sunny. A little after 4pm, my crew and I were dispatched to a medical call, for someone who had a seizure. Firefighters wear their regular uniforms to medical calls, not the heavy “turnouts” and helmets that we wear to fight fires and cut people out of wrecked cars. When we got to the scene it was clear there was a great deal more going on than first reported. The person we were sent to help was out of the car he had been driving, and was walking away from the ambulance crew, refusing to talk to them. After we pulled up, he turned and began walking back to his car, got in, and started it. The next few seconds changed my life, though I don’t remember them. I was standing in the open driver’s door, trying to talk to the man, when he put the car into reverse, and floored it. I learned later that I had been dragged by the vehicle a dozen feet and thrown, my head slamming on the pavement. The traumatic brain injury I suffered, along with the spinal damage and other injuries ended my career in the fire department. My red Captain’s helmet now sits on a shelf.
Would the results have been different if I had been wearing my fire helmet? No one can really say. The impact on the side of my head was extremely violent, and fire helmets are meant to protect those wearing them from heat, falling objects and if the floor beneath them gives way. I can say I would have rather been wearing either of my helmets that day than not. Today, three years later, I can say that I’m lucky. I’m alive, and can still put on my riding helmet and walk my horse around the arena a few days a week. This, my own version of Hippotherapy, has restrengthened my damaged left knee, and helped heal the trauma to my balance system. The “cognitive fatigue” from the traumatic brain injury I have and the pain from my spinal injury are almost overwhelming some days, but spending time with my horse is always motivation to keep going. I hope to get back to my life, and to competitive jumping one day, though I’ll never work as a Fire Captain again. I still need surgery on my spine, which I hope to have soon. This April, I’ll enjoy the beautiful spring weather, and before I tack up my horse for our walk, I’ll put on my riding helmet. Won’t you do the same?
- Ann Cavanaugh, CA