We were living in Ontario at the time, southwest of Stratford. It was a bitterly cold evening in January when our thirteen-year-old daughter got a phone call just after supper. As she talked we could see by the gleam in her eye that someone was offering an enticing activity. We heard her say she would ask, and saw how excited she was as she hung up the phone.
Turns out the “in group” among her peers were going tobogganing that evening and wondered if she would like to go along. We frowned. “I just have to go,” she told us. “They hardly ever ask me.”
The temperature had been around -40 degrees that day—C or F, at that depth there’s no difference—and now it was dark. We had our reservations…
“Please,” she begged. “This will be my ONLY chance this winter. If I don’t go tonight, they may never ask me again!”
Reluctantly we agreed. After all, who were we to ruin our daughter’s social life forever for a few safety concerns? So her father loaded up her toboggan and drove her to the hill where the activity was to take place; a number of thirteen- to seventeen-year-olds were already gathered with their equipment. One of their “sleds” was actually a tractor tire inner tube they sat on –and hung on for dear life– as they flew down the hill.
The phone call came about eight-thirty—a friend who lived across from the hill called on his way to the hospital—saying our daughter had been injured and he was taking her to emergency. She and another girl were going down on this inner tube when they hit a bump and she went flying. He didn’t think there was too much to be concerned about, but we’d want to come and check up on her.
When the sun shines during the day and the temperature drops so low after sundown, the melted surface snow forms glare ice, rock hard. This was what she’d come down on, head and one shoulder first. She’d been knocked unconscious. The young people, not knowing what else to do, had grabber her arms and dragged her up to the top of the hill again.
Our friend told us that when she’d come to at the top of the hill she was complaining that her shoulder hurt. I immediately became concerned for fear she’d broken her collar bone. My Mom Forsyth was a St John’s Ambulance instructor for years and I clearly remember her telling me that you must NEVER move a person with broken bones.
Health fact: You can actually KILL a person by moving them when they have a broken collar bone. The broken bone can pierce the aorta and they bleed to death.
Bob rushed to the hospital; I had to stay home because some girls were coming over–I forget why. He phoned later to tell me that she was still groggy and that an x-ray showed she had a broken collar bone. I fretted and fumed, alternating between thanking God she was still alive and wishing someone had known something about first aid.
It was indeed the last time that winter that she went tobogganing. It took a few weeks for her broken bone to heal. Also, we learned later that another woman, mother to some of the school children, had taken their class tobogganing that afternoon and had more or less the same mishap on a toboggan, flying off and breaking her collar bone. The owner of the property said, “Enough of this,” and closed that hill to tobogganers for the rest of the winter.