Off-duty firefighter uses bike part to save woman’s life

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An off-duty Albuquerque firefighter’s quick action and creative thinking helped a bicyclist survive a bad crash.

The cyclist was hit by a garbage truck, and the firefighter used part of her bike to save her.

“I’m still just kind of in shock honestly,” said EMS Captain Kerry McKinstry of the Albuquerque Fire Department.

McKinstry was on a morning walk near Yale and Lomas two weeks ago when he heard the commotion.

“The truck was here, with the nose facing this way. Obviously they were turning right, and she was probably right about in here, and she was just laid out,” he recalled, at the scene of the accident.

A woman riding her bike was hit by a garbage truck. McKinstry ran under the truck, his instincts kicked in.

“She was describing the pain, so I was just trying to concentrate on her,” said McKinstry.

The woman’s leg was mangled.

“I’m used to having a big red truck with me and obviously I didn’t have that morning, so what was going to kill her was the bleeding, so I had to control the bleeding,” McKinstry explained.

McKinstry got creative, and spotted the woman’s bike.

“I just had my tennis shoes on and my shorts, and a tank top so I really didn’t have anything,” McKinstry said. “So I just looked over and the tube was actually sticking out quite like that,” he explained, pointing to a bike tube hanging out of the tire.

He told another good Samaritan with a knife to cut the bike tube. Mckinstry used it as a tourniquet on the woman’s leg to control the bleeding. He tried to comfort her as they waited for an ambulance, saying, “we’re gonna make this, we’re gonna be OK.” McKinstry said the woman was coherent, adding, “her bravery was just uncanny.”

The accident happened just yards away from the hospital, but as a trained paramedic McKinstry said he knew to treat her life-threatening injuries first, and wait for an ambulance to arrive with the proper equipment before they moved her to the emergency room.

The garbage truck driver called 911, and the woman was rushed to UNMH. A main artery in her leg was severed, and in seconds, she could have bled to death.

“I just look at it, I was at the right place at the right time and this is what we do, you know it was someone in need, and I helped,” said McKinstry.

The woman lost her right leg, but thanks to a bike tube, and quick action of the EMS Captain and 19-year AFD veteran, she survived.

“It was weird how it worked out, but it worked,” said McKinstry.

The firefighter actually befriended the woman he saved. He told KRQE News 13 she’s in good spirits recovering, and should be released from rehab within a week.

“The short amount of time I had with her, she’s a very unique individual, and I think this is going to empower her and she will be on a bike again, I guarantee it,” said McKinstry.

The Mayor’s office plans to honor the firefighter as part of Friday’s Heroes, but a date has not yet been set.

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