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Why helmet safety has become my #1 priority

safetygear
helmet

#1

This topic has been brought up here before but I don’t want this to get buried in a previous thread. In my opinion, the more safety awareness we have, the better. Last Friday, me and a friend decided to do a quick ride before heading to a basketball game. Not a “real ride” where we pack a bunch of filming gear, protective gear, etc. just a quick 15 minute run at a local high school. My friend has been skateboarding since 5 years old and is an avid photographer/videographer so riding with him is always a good time and his shooting/eboarding skills are impeccable.

So we did a few laps in a high school parking lot and decided to ride inside of the track and field area where it’s a softer clay surface. I did my run first as my buddy filmed. Then we switched places and I started shooting him. This was pretty much the last shot before we were getting ready to leave. Suddenly and without warning, he took a bad fall while turning a corner, no mechanical errors, just clipped the edge of the track. I was wearing a helmet, he wasn’t (he’s in the middle of a move and his helmet was packed in a box - still no excuse). He started seizing on the ground and fell unconscious. Instincts kicked in, dialed 911. As I’m waiting for the medics, all I could do is watch his breathing. In my mind, all that mattered was that he was still alive. His injuries looked so traumatic - seizures, foaming at the mouth - I feared the worst and at best - a life of assisted care.

The ambulance arrived in record time. He actually woke up but was confused and slurring his words. All good signs but not enough to make any clear diagnosis. I took his car to the hospital and had to wait an excruciating 45 minutes in the waiting room before I could enter his room in the ER. The whole time I’m texting his mom and alerting his friends and co-workers. By the time I see him, he’s awake but very groggy and still confused. The doctor says he has a subdural hematoma - a fracture in the skull and bruising in the brain. As his parents arrive, he becomes agitated and belligerent to the point where they escort us into a private waiting room as they administer sedatives and painkillers to calm him down. Essentially, one of the worst experiences of my life. Fortunately, we were less than a mile away from the University of Michigan Medical Center, one of the best, most state of the art hospitals in the country.

The following day is promising. The CT scans throughout the night show no further bleeding, no permanent damage, just a few weeks of bad headaches. I visit him in the morning and he is alert, aware and remembers everything. I said a prayer and thanked God for listening to me. Yesterday he looked even better and today he will be discharged from the hospital and bedrest for the next two weeks at home. Long story short, we dodged a bullet, but we shouldn’t have put ourselves in the line of fire in the first place.

I would say that generally, guys like myself with families, tend to ride in a way that minimizes risk - from safety gear, to understanding the limits of our machines and our bodies. It’s like a subconscious switch that protects us because of this fear of not being able to provide for our kids. For some of my friends who are in their early 20’s without kids, that switch hasn’t been activated yet, they are fearless which is both admirable but very scary. Eboarding is still a sport that emphasizes speed over safety and I take full responsibility for contributing to that kind of behavior with my videos. I take full responsibility for not saying “no”. His take is that he didn’t bail correctly when he got the speed wobbles. His parents keep telling me not to beat myself up. But I see it differently, this should never have happened. I came very close to tossing all of my boards and parts into the garbage and buying an Xbox but then I realized that I have a greater purpose and that’s to put more attention to safety. Will people still get hurt riding on these machines? Yes. Can we minimize not just our own risks, but others who are not hardcore DIY enthusiasts? Yes. But we shouldn’t have to wait for loved ones to get critically injured to truly understand that.

I’d like to urge everyone to ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET even if you’re just going down the block. Even if it’s not a “real ride”. Always have a spare or two or three for anyone who wants to ride with you. No helmet, no ride, simple as that. And as an added safety feature, I’ve programmed speed limits on my VESC’s with ERPM. Some of you may scoff at the idea of lowering the speed of your machines but until you’ve experienced what I did last Friday, keeping other’s safe should always be at the top of the checklist. If you see reckless behavior, point that shit out. It’s not cool and it will ruin this sport by putting lives at risk. I don’t give a fuck about speed as long as I have my buddies next to me.

It will honestly take some time for me to get back to riding anytime soon, but just wanted to share this story while it’s still fresh in my mind. Please be careful out there and keep each other safe.


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#2

:fist:t2:



#3

Same exact thing happened to one of my friends downhilling in the anaheim hills. I had to dial 911 and cover the golf ball sized hole in his head until they arrived, the whole time playing down his injury to keep him calm. Definitely life changing…Then, two years later, I let my guard down and blew out my knee. Moral of my story? Not sure…Helmets suck for protecting your knees?

I’m glad your friend is still kickin!

Thanks for sharing your story and taking the high road!


#4

Thanks for sharing, hoping it can help prevent others. Good to hear your friend is on the mend.


#5

I see this more times than I’d like to when I worked in a recovering center as a Occupational therapist. One of the deadliest injuries is Traumatic Brain Injury which is probably what Happened to your friend. Get your friend to do MRI scan of brain every 3-4 months for the next year. There will be repercussion for the brain down the line. I’ve had patient who develop Parkinson because of too much TBI when they were younger sustained from soccer or boxing. It’s really no joke.

Wear your helmet, people! And if you’re going more than 20mph wear a full face helmet, I’ve had a patient rip his jaw off from going more than 30 mph down a mountain. It ain’t so fun when you need more than a year or two to recover…if you survive initial impact.


#6

Thanks for sharing the experience @RunPlayBack. I’m very glad that your friend is OK, and hope that he’ll continue to recover well.

I think that safety is woefully overlooked in the skating world in general, and with esk8, and especially DIY, it’s far easier to end up at dangerous speeds.

Maybe we can turn @RunPlayBack’s experience into something with a positive outcome if we start to encourage riders to protect themselves from these kinds of accidents. How about a Sticky on the this forum about safety that all members are required to read?

I see many posts where a new builder starts out saying “I want a top speed of 28-30mph!” Every time I see it I silently hope that speed is never achieved. I think that we, as a community, should start to dissuade that kind of planning with new builders. Very few people know how to safely ride at that speed. The casual person who skated as a kid and now wants an electric board for fun and commuting should be guided to start at a more modest pace.

Unless you are a pro, on closed course, and wearing full gear including leathers, top speeds shouldn’t be touched. We’ve gotten really good as a community at building incredibly fast boards, but we haven’t gotten very good at practicing restraint. No amount of fun is worth the cost of a major injury.


#7

I am already using the full face helmet and feel naked if I don’t have.

My next priority is some sort of wrist/palm protection that still alllows finger dexterity.

Seems like buying some slide or wrist guards is best and just remove or modify the insert or puck to not get in the way.

This is one safety product E boards needs to get more people on board.


#8

Glad to hear your friend is doing better. I’ve only done one ride without a helmet, it was more of a slow paced ride at a speed I could kick push a regular board at for about half a mile. Felt horrible about it, but I was trying to do some photography early on a sunday morning, no cars or people around…still no excuse.

I’ve been debating on how much I would wear my full face helmet with the two boards I have incoming now that it’s summer. My FF worked excellent during cold weather and I always wore it (especially considering it cost me ~$300). But I missed the breeze on my face when it started getting warm and stopped wearing it and switched back to my old Bell.

Since I play on going 24-26mph consistently when I get these boards I think I’ll have no choice but to where my FF. I always thought that if I end up not tucking my head to the side when I bail my jaw would be forced inward to a point where I’d fuck up my teeth or as @Nate described my jaw getting ripped off.

I plan on wearing elbow & knee pads from now on as well. Too many scars and I’d like to not fuck my knees for life…


#9

My thoughts and prayers are with you, brother!! Thank you very much for putting yourself out there like that. This is very important stuff to share. I lost my friend Dustin to a motorcycle accident a few years back. He was a daredevil and did way more risky stuff than what got him hurt. He was busting a wheelie on a Harley Fatboy across a parking lot, he’d done that a million times, and clipped the curb setting down the front end. I wasn’t there, but my buddy Bill was and he had to hold him down and used his t shirt to hold his skull bits together. Dustin was a really great guy. Loyal, honest, would literally give you the shirt off his back. Aaaaarghhh…I’m crying like a little bitch…I gotta get some air…Peace…


#10

Good luck to your friend @RunPlayBack. That 2nd last paragraph was one of the most inspiring safety things I have ever read. And to all of you that don’t wear your helmets: Wear them


#11

Thanks for the response guys, I just can’t take a passive approach to safety anymore. One accident is already too much. @treenutter is right about having some kind of sticky about safety. And a thread like this goes beyond theoretical recommended safety warnings because these stories hit home for many of us.


#12

What is your buddie’s name? Was he the other dude in the video you made on that abandoned highway?
@RunPlayBack I really hope that you are doing OK. I wish you peace, bro. Sometimes it hurts more when you aren’t the one that got beat up. I’m so glad he’s still with us!! Try not to think too much. Take care…


#13

Hope he recovers. Most people don’t think of falling until it happens to them.

I wear full face DH helmet anytime I’m goin above 20 mph and a regular certified skate or bike helmet regardless of how fast I go. I wear wrist guards when under 20. 20-26 I’d add knee and elbow pads. More than that and I’d use my DH leathers with padded elbows and knees. I’d also use full fingered gloves.

@CSN you can use full finger gloves and just remove the puck. You can cut off the thumb if needed to get a better feel of the joystick. I have $200 motorcycle full gauntlet armored gloves and since the fit is perfect I can easily manuever a joystick with those. They definitely feel safe!


#14

His name’s Robbie the other dude I did the highway video with is Patrick, both of them are highly experienced skaters/longboarders in the area. But Robbie is definitely in a lot of my videos, he was the one who pulled a manual on one of my boards. Again, it’s like the friends who know how to handle a board are the ones that get hurt the most.


#15

Nice!! I love that video where he pulls that sweet manual. One of my first intros to ESK8. Inspired me a lot!!

Someone needs to talk to THESE guys! LOL


#16

100% agree…i get a lot of slack for not wanting to go over 15mph, but stories like yours are exactly why i refuse to go any faster than i normally go without the electronics on flat ground. Its not worth the cool factor, and plus you get a wayyy longer ride time anyways


#17

Before I started in the esk8 world I didn’t ware a helmet but after a few rides I discovered that it’s a very good idea to ware a helmet!!


#18

Specifically the dummies at 1:04 lol


#19

Solid advice mate. Thanks for sharing.


#20

Yeah, next time I ride with these guys I make them wear helmets all the time, not just speed runs.