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Racer collapses during mountain bike race at PIR

Posted by on June 23rd, 2008 at 11:04 pm

Short track MTB racing

(BikePortland file photo)

30 year-old bike racer Colby Brooks collapsed while participating in the singlespeed race at the Portland Mountain Bike Short Track Series held tonight at Portland International Raceway (PIR).

Race organizer Kris Schamp was riding alongside Brooks just moments before the incident. He told me via telephone this evening that according to several witnesses, Brooks was riding along and suddenly collapsed near the start/finish area of the race course.

On hand medical staff began CPR immediately and continued “for over ten minutes,” but Brooks remained unconscious until the ambulance arrived. The ambulance crew immediately employed their automated external defibrillator (AED) device and Schamp says Brooks “finally came to after the first jolt.”

AEDs are not required equipment for Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) events.

According to Schamp, Brooks was breathing and “O.K.” as he was carried away on a stretcher.

He was taken to Legacy Emanuel hospital and friends say he is currently awake, stable, and a bit confused about what happened (due to being unconscious for so long). There’s still no word on what exactly caused the collapse.

Brooks is an employee at the Hollywood Bike Gallery store.

I wrote about this race earlier today and a few people are already commenting about the incident. One racer named Dan wrote,

“I was there tonight and really thought the race should have been paused until they could get the… victim off the track. I will never forget the sight of people performing CPR on that man while people raced by on their MTBs six feet away.”

UPDATE: 6/24, 7:39am — Friends of Colby Brooks report that he is still in the ICU and that he’s “doing great!” They also add that nurses are commending the first-responders for their “fantastic job” keeping Colby alive by doing CPR before the ambulance arrived.

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  • Ed June 24, 2008 at 12:02 am

    I was at the start for the next race. I think very few people knew exactly what was going on and everyone assumed it was the usual broken collarbone or arm. While the participants would have been more concerned if we\’d known all the circumstances, the staff correctly was focused on attending to the rider rather than explaining what was going on. As far as moving him, I don\’t think that would be appropriate unless the staff knew for certain what the problem was. Under the circumstances, keeping him where he was made more sense.

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  • Russell June 24, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Wow, I really hope he\’s okay, but I do find it disconcerting that they did not pause the race. I also find it worrying that AEDs are not required by OBRA at all events. They\’re simple to use and really make a big difference.

    Anyways, my thoughts are with Mr. Brooks.

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  • Jackson Wild June 24, 2008 at 12:19 am

    If you don\’t know CPR, please take this as your wake-up call to become certified. No tech, no frills, good basic life support can make all the difference.

    Jackson Wild RN, CCRN

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  • Matt June 24, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Re. pausing the race–

    I\’m not sure what the rationale was, but I think that trying to remove racers from the track and disperse them would have caused further problems, given that he was down so close to the main exit points. Also, in general, trying to stop people is probably kind of difficult and might have prompted further crashes/injuries.

    That said, since PIR is hosting so many events on Monday nights (the two bike races and the… rollerbladers?) I don\’t see why paramedics aren\’t kept on site. The race fees are pretty reasonable right now, so if they have to go up a bit to keep an ambulance around for the night, I don\’t think people are going to bitch much. Alternatively, maybe some sort of distinct bell/buzzer system could be implemented to alert any medically-inclined folk who\’re present that there\’s an emergency?

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  • Bill June 24, 2008 at 12:39 am

    They don\’t have a \”red flag\” system like auto racing?


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  • Steve Pappert June 24, 2008 at 12:45 am

    defibribulators are the most important medica device that is not close enough to the people that need them. this has been recognised I believe. the life saving potential is huge. I hope for the best for mr. brooks

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  • jake June 24, 2008 at 5:40 am

    RE: race pause,
    Matt is correct about not pausing the race, the incident took place just after the start/ finish line , which is a area of higher alertness anyway, and Mr. Brooks was at the far outside of the course, considerably more than the six feet mentioned in another post. I have absolutely no doubt that the capable race staff and organizers would have stopped or rerouted the race had the situation necessitated it.

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  • Steve June 24, 2008 at 6:20 am

    I\’m not sure how pausing the race would have worked, I was out of contention when I passed by them and decided to pull off the course anyway. One thing I did notice was that access for emergency vehicles (if they are not already there) is not good. I would vote for an increase in race fees and an ambulance on site.

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  • w. June 24, 2008 at 6:23 am

    I\’m definitely going to have to agree that pausing the race would have caused more confusion. I was definitely rattled at first but realized the best thing to do was continue on since Mr. Brooks\’s collapse (as noted already) was clearly more than 6 feet away from the racers. His collapse was well off the course. Trying to coordinate the 40+ racers and their fans with regards to pausing the race would have probably caused a lot of unneccessary rubbernecking & crowding. I think we\’ve all seen and/or experienced some emergency situations when there are simply TOO many people around. I would like to commend those who were able to relieve the medical person during the 10+ minutes of chest compressions.

    I wish Mr. Brooks all the best and my thoughts are with him and his loved ones. It is amazing to hear that he \”awoke\” after EMS were able to use AED\’s.

    With regards to AED\’s at the track, I will have to say that I am quite surprised. Cost has come down significantly & the units can be operated by virtually anyone as they have clear instructions printed on the machine AND actually \”spoken\” by the AED. Granted, many schools are finally being stocked with an AED but a race facility would almost seem like a given.

    Let\’s not use this time to point fingers about who is at fault but move forward and determine what we can all do to make our races & racers safer.

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  • mac June 24, 2008 at 6:29 am

    What a great endorsement of learning CPR. That someone could be kept alive with CPR for ten minutes before defibrillation and come out of it being alert enough to be communicative is astounding.

    I agree that if an event sees fit to have medical personnel there, then it would be ideal to have a basic kit with an AED, iv\’s, etc.

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  • Mark C June 24, 2008 at 7:27 am

    I recently took a CPR class, and I agree that an AED should be present at all OBRA events. The devices are practically fool-proof, and in cases like this involving a young person, the problem is very frequently an interruption of the heart\’s normal electrical rhythm, in which case you need something to shock the heart back to normal.

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  • Tom H June 24, 2008 at 7:48 am

    My thought are with Colby, and a a speedy recovery.

    I was amazed at the rapid response of the people around the finish line. I do not know who they were or where they came from, but they certainly saved Colby\’s life.

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  • Jon June 24, 2008 at 7:52 am

    In my opinion, stopping a race if the racer is not impeding the route is not a good idea. All stopping the race will do is draw a huge crowd of people to watch the injured person and clog the area. Almost every race has a medic that is paid to be at the race. These medics typically attend to the cuts and minor trauma. They know who to contact when the injury or medical condition is too difficult for them to handle. It sounds like the person was attended to almost immediately and the proper services were called in. It is always easy for people to comment on what should have been done in hindsite, but things tend to be a lot less clear the moment they are happening.

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  • Jami June 24, 2008 at 8:35 am

    If others think that it was in poor taste (to go on riding as if nothing happened), it probably was.

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  • Joe R June 24, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Glad Colby is ok. Makes ya think.

    If I were into mtb racing, and I ever collapsed… Race ON!

    No whining!

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  • Bonnie R June 24, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Words can\’t describe how elated and grateful I fee that Colby survived and is \”doing well\”, according to the ICU nurses caring for him at Emanuel Hosp. Our prayers and thoughts are with him and his family as he recovers, hopefully really soon! As one of those who helped with CPR last night, all I can say is thank God for CPR. Everyone should be CPR trained, and yes, I also agree that we should have AEDs onsite at all the races.

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  • jeff June 24, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Jami, as someone who was there, I don\’t think it was in poor taste. Like nothing happened? I think everyone there was quite aware, and had Colby in their thoughts. Props to those who administered CPR. I wish Colby a full and fast recovery.

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  • ALD June 24, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Let\’s not forget this is about someone\’s life last night. What does whining have to do with it? Absolute wake up call regarding CPR. Understand the complexity of halting a race, but still think it would have been best to put the breaks on out of respect once the seriousness of the situation was realized.

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  • AMA June 24, 2008 at 9:14 am

    First off, my best to Colby and his family and here\’s hoping for a speedy recovery. Also, many many thanks to those of you who administered CPR.

    A couple of thoughts:

    – I\’m happy to chip in on a defib machine. Is there anyone at OBRA or BikePortland willing to set up some sort of fund to get a defib machine at every race? I will gladly donate to that cause.

    – In real time, it seemed agonizingly slow to get the emergency response through all the gates to the inner track. I\’m sure this was partly due to wanting help to get there faster than humanly possible.

    However, if there\’s not going to be an ambulance on site, maybe some kind of response plan can be worked out ahead of time with the fire/ambulance folks? That might be a relatively inexpensive way to make sure that emergency services can respond as effectively as possible.

    Anyways, thanks to all of you that helped out, and good luck to Colby.


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  • bArbaroo June 24, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who performed CPR. I am very grateful that you were there and able to help him.

    Colby – get well soon.

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  • velo June 24, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Glad to hear that this is likely going to turn out all right. I have to second the call of \”learn CPR\”! It\’s not hard and a really good thing to know. I did it as part of a wilderness medicine class and although I haven\’t had to use it I am definitely glad that I know it. Someone doing CPR on this rider saved this guys life, the EMS system is great, but certain things just can\’t wait that long.

    So, my thoughts with the rider for a speedy recovery and a return to racing!

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  • Mark June 24, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I was there also, about 50 feet away in the grandstands. Under the circumstances, people did the right things and chose their priorities correctly.

    The race might\’ve been stopped, but \’respect for the situation\’ at that point is beside the point and a secondary consideration to saving the person\’s life. If he had been in the path of other racers, well, of course. But as it was it was better to let the race go on to keep traffic flowing away from the accident.

    Stopping the race would have caused traffic and confusion at exactly the wrong place, as he collapsed just beyond the start/finish. As it was, the only people near him were people who had a legitimate reason to be there.

    Second-guessing a fortunate and successful outcome in which bystanders uniformly stepped up in brave and effective ways is kind of poor in a radio-talk show way.

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  • bahueh June 24, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I can tell most of you have never participated in OBRA races nor known any aspect of the OBRA community…
    listening to some of these responses is frustrating as OBRA does ONE HELL OF
    A GOOD JOB at keeping riders safe and responding to injuries immediately and with great concern.
    Mike Murray himself is present at the majority of races and is an ED physician…there are generally nurses and EMT\’s racing themselves and, while they are under no obligation to do so, willingly and happily attend to broken riders sometimes at their own expense…I\’ve witnessed it more times than I can count and have been the recipient of that volunteer care.

    the OBRA community (and it is just that..a community that sometimes more closely resembles a family) does what it can to medically attend to everyone in need…so until you understand the situation and the logistics and cost involved in running these events, your opinions on what \”should have been done\” are worthless.

    For Colby\’s situation….he could not have been in a better place nor with better people during a racing event when this happened…I\’ve raced with other organizations and what we have here in Portland is above and beyond.

    Racing is inherently dangerous…period.

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  • tonyt June 24, 2008 at 10:01 am

    While to some, continuing the race may have seemed in bad taste, I think that under the circumstances, it was probably the best and most efficient use of the officials\’ energy.

    Keeping the race going keeps racers and spectators AWAY from the emergency area.

    If they had stopped the race, then officials would have had to deal with racers coming toward the start/finish area, as well as spectators gathering there too. Everyone wants to know what\’s happening, a crowd forms and things get more complicated.

    Then the officials not only have to deal with the emergency at hand, but a hundred questions coming from hundreds of people.

    Having participated in many OBRA races, I can tell you that the people running them are incredibly real, compassionate, and concerned human beings. They are racers, former racers, family members of racers, and race fans.

    I can say without reservation that I know that if something happened to me, my safety would be their #1 concern.

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  • Adam June 24, 2008 at 10:15 am

    I\’m glad to here Colby is doing well. I hate to see anyone go down but especially a friend and coworker. I hope to see an ambulance on site at the races from now on. An AED would be a great thing to have on site as well.

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  • ralph June 24, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Glad to hear he is recovering.

    On my browser the headline is broken into two lines with PIR being on a line all its own. As I scanned back to the start of the second line I read it backwards as RIP.

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  • Brad June 24, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Worse has happened at OBRA races and the events continue. It is a competitive SPORT and the participants accept that bad things can and will happen. Do not cast OBRA officials or race organizers as insensitive because nothing could be further from the truth. In addition, others on the course didn\’t know what had happened and I seriously doubt that anyone thought to themselves, \”That dude just flatlined. Time to launch an attack!\”

    For the sake of debate, should bike commuting be banned in light of the tragedies suffered by the bike community over the past year? Shall we suspend or cancel a Sunday Parkways or Bridge Pedal once someone crashes or has a medical emergency?

    I join others in wishing Colby a speedy recovery and a hearty thanks to the people that make OBRA racing possible.

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  • Mike Murray June 24, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I am very glad to hear that the outcome of the medical emergency that happened at the Short Track last night is better than it sounded like it was going to be when I got the call from the first aid provider last night. There are a few things in the thread above that I think need to be addressed:

    – From all the reports the I have gotten so far this was a medical emergency that just happened to occur at a bike race, not something directly related to the race itself. There was no element of trauma and it was not related to overexertion. This could have happened at home, while out in countryside on a solo ride or while at the mall. Obviously it was a bit of luck that it occurred in close proximity to first aid providers and in a location with a short response time for EMS.

    – Stopping the race; obviously this is always a judgment call. Many times, if there is no obstruction of the course, it is better to keep the race moving then to stop the race with the confusion associated with that. An analogy might be if there was someone that collapsed at the mall it would not make sense for everyone in the mall to stop shopping.

    – AED; while it is never a bad thing to have a near by AED if someone has a sudden cardiac arrest, this is not a device that would be used at bike races very often. Cardiac arrests at bike races are very rare events. I starting racing in 1972. I have been to over a thousand bike races from local races to World Championships. I have never seen a cardiac arrest at one. I know that there has not been a non-traumatic arrest at a bike race in Oregon since I moved here in 1980 until this week. AEDs have no utility in traumatic arrests, which are also rare, only 2 since 1980 in Oregon. When I started the first aid program for OBRA in the early 80s I used to put airway equipment in the first aid supplies; oxygen, ventilating bags, etc. It became obvious after several years that this was not needed as it never got used. An AED would get used less frequently. In addition a single AED would not be sufficient to cover all races. There were 3 bike races Monday. AEDs will be of more utility if they are installed in places where there are larger groups of people that have a higher risk of diseases that would cause cardiac arrest. Malls, airports, schools are all reasonable places for AEDs. Frankly an AED is much more likely to be used at any restaurant or bar than it is to be used at a bike race.

    – System to alert the first aid provider; this is already in place. In most cases this is done by handheld radios. It is not possible to have a fool proof system that will get a medical person to a site immediately every time, of course.

    – Ambulance stand by; this is distinctly NOT inexpensive in most locations. I addition it often leads to unnecessary ambulance transports. It is not unusual that a clavicle fracture or even a significant abrasion will be transported by ambulance if one is on site or called by the public. Especially in areas where the ambulance response times are low, like at PIR, I would discourage this practice. If ambulance stand by is used it is essential that there be a first aid provider associated directly with the event who can triage when the ambulance is used.

    If anyone has any questions or concerns regarding first aid support at bike races they should feel free to contact me. If you would like to participate in some fashion that would be even better.

    Mike Murray

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  • Kronda June 24, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    @Jami #14: Do you always let other people decide what you think? Some people think it wasn\’t in poor taste–so then what?

    Since Colby is reportedly \”doing great,\” I\’d say that everything was handled perfectly. Certainly from what I saw on the scene, things seemed to be very organized and \’not-panicked.\’

    @Mike #27: Kudos for having such an awesome team of first aid folks in place. Your clarifications on the usefulness and practicality re: AED and on-site ambulance are very enlightening.

    On another note, I did my first short track race ever last night (beginner race, pre-emergency) and it was fantastic fun. I\’ll be back, and highly recommend it.

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  • erin g. June 24, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Thank goodness Colby is doing well. The community is thinking about you.

    I was a mere spectator but was extremely impressed by how the organizers handled the crisis situation. They were quick, calm, and strategic. Whereas I am no expert in these matters, what I observed was that the careful, organized handling of the crisis protected everyone in the race while supporting the collapsed rider with the urgent life-preserving care that he needed. My heart goes out to those who performed the CPR for nearly ten minutes. You are heroes.

    I just wanted to express my support and encouragement to the organizers, emergency helpers, and everyone involved for responding to a most frightening situation in a fashion that resulted in the most positive outcome possible.

    Most importantly, get well soon, Colby!

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  • Kris June 24, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks to everyone who chimed in here with messages of support for Colby…

    This morning, I visited Colby at Immanuel and he is doing great. Obviously, he is still shaken and confused by what happened and he doesn\’t remember anything of the race. However, he had plenty questions on how his race went and who was ahead of him (I guess we bike racers are just a little weird like that…).

    The doctors and nurse I talked all confirmed that our first-aid volunteers really saved Colby\’s life by performing textbook style CPR. So I like to extend my deepest gratitude to all of them (Bonnie, JV and the various others who worked hard to pull Colby through).

    As for the decision not to pause the race, that was a conscious decision we made for the very reasons some others already mentioned here. We had close to 300 racers yesterday and canceling the races would likely have caused serious crowding around the incident area and kept our volunteers from focusing on the task at hand, basically keeping a racer and friend alive.

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  • Chris June 24, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Mike, thanks for the clarification(s)! I think there is a lot of confusion out there in regards to AEDs

    Kris, great news! My thoughts go out to Colby, his family, and his friends. Hope he has a speedy recovery!

    And again, thanks to those that responded! My heart was aching when I saw CPR being performed. I was so relieved when I heard the racer had been revived.

    I want to reiterate how important it is for folks to have first aid and CPR training. If you offered to help donate money towards an AED or stand by ambulance, please consider spending that money on a training course for yourself or your team.
    Lots of classes! Check it out:

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  • Phil June 24, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    I didn\’t see Colby go down, a banner blocked my view, but what I did see was a look of sheer horror on the face of a bystandering in the stands who saw Colby collapes. The look on her face stopped me and scared me. I knew at that moment something very serious and terribly wrong had happened. She immediately jumped onto the course and yelled to get attention and help. Whoever she is, great great work.

    The following 10 minutes of CPR were hard to watch but it was great to see how people responded and saved his life. Why did it take so long for the Fire Deparment to arrive? It\’s a relief to hear that he survived, I really didn\’t expect that.

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  • […] Get well soon, Colby. […]

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  • MattD June 24, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    I\’m happy to hear that Colby is doing better, and I wish him a speedy recovery.

    This year our cycling club put on a first aid and cpr class at the begining of the season. Not a month, much of what I learned went into the initial assessment of a teamate who went down in a wreck and ended up with a pretty significant concussion.

    The activity we participate in can be dangerous. As others have mentioned, I strongly suggest that take a basic first responders class, and get CPR certified. 8 hours of your time and save someones life.

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  • David June 25, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I haven\’t read all of the comments here so maybe someone already said this…one reason to have stopped the race is that if, on the off chance that another racer had suffered some sort of trauma while the CPR was being administered, there likely would not have been people available to help that rider. Stopping the race would at least have reduced the (admittedly very slim) likelihood of a second serious injury occuring that would have necessitated medical attention– attention that was necessarily focused on a life-threatening situation.

    I\’m not second guessing the decision that was made, but as we consider the incident in hindsight with an eye toward future policy, I just wanted to bring up another thing to ponder.

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  • carol June 25, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Again, the gal that first ran over was a real sweetheart (arm tree girl) that showed a concern for a fellow human by LOOKING, something that the rest of us in the stands didn\’t take in soon enough!!!….bravo to her concern!!!!! If we could all be so lucky to have someone like her around when we get into trouble!!!

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  • Caroline June 25, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    I have to disagree, David #36. Stopping the race would not have prevented anything from happening. In fact, I bet you\’d have more trouble likely to happen with gawkers fainting, tripping over one another, stopping confused racers, etc. I agree with most the commenters here that keeping the race rolling, whether planned or not, was wise. Gawkers and general chaos around Colby would have slowed down his rescue.

    I agree with Mike Murray about the AED. Bike racers are a pretty darn healthy, intelligent, and resourceful group. Invest your money in a CPR course, learn it, and remember that even if you don\’t remember exactly how to use it in the heat of the moment, you\’re a superstar for trying, and covered by Good Samaritan laws.

    The American Heart Association\’s CPR algorithms just changed, so you may notice people doing different sequences (15 compressions: 2 breaths, sometimes 30 compressions, 2 breaths, etc). Go along with whomever takes charge or seems the most at ease. Probably the biggest mistakes people make are not ensuring breaths go into the lungs of NON-breathing victims and 2) not performing deep enough chest compressions. CPR is not pretty, nor does it always work, but in a lot of cases — such as Colby\’s — it\’s worth a shot!

    Here\’s a great 5 page overview of CPR from the AHA.

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  • Kristin M June 25, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    I hear that Colby is leaving the ICU in the very near future. This makes my heart strings sing. As one of the first people to reach Colby, I feared the worst, but clung to the hope.

    To Phil and Carol, I am the \”arm tree\” girl. Thank you so much for your kind To words. I don\’t know what got into me, nor did I know I could jump a fence so quickly. Along with the hundreds (thousands?) of bikeportland.org readers, I would like to applaud everyone who was involved in saving Colby\’s life–this extends beyond those who were at his side.

    I didn\’t catch of all your names, but hopefully I\’ll see you again at the race track and be able to shake your hand.

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