Chad Frisby is a firefighter-paramedic with the Provo City Fire Department. As a cyclist, he always wears a helmet. But one day, he didn’t follow his personal "helmet law."
June 10, 2006, Chad was riding a motorized skateboard on the Provo River Parkway. He was near Nunn’s Park when he crashed, falling backwards onto his head. He wasn't wearing a helmet.
“My wife was waiting at the mouth of the canyon for me, with the kids in the van. She sees a fire engine and an ambulance goes roaring up the canyon with lights and siren, and says to the kids: 'I hope that's not for daddy!'" Unfortunately, they were wrong.
Chad spent a little over a month in the hospital recovering from a subdural bleed and full circumference skull fracture.
Adam Phillips, Physician's Assistant in the trauma unit at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, sees injuries like Chad's on a regular basis.
“When someone hits their head hard enough to break the skull,” says Phillips, “the brain sloshes around in that space and usually impacts on the same side of the skull and then rebounds and hits the opposite side.”
Phillips says that "sloshing around" is what injures the brain, and the effects of those injuries can last minutes, or - as in Chad's case - years.
“In his case, his injuries were in areas of the brain that are known to affect personality, and he, colleagues and others, have noticed that he had a bit of a temper, compared to what he had before the accident. And that's a pretty common thing,” says Phillips.
A hot temper is the biggest change in Chad's personality. It is also the biggest struggle for Chad, his wife and four kids.
“It's been a trial for myself and for my wife, and bless her heart, she's still my wife and I love her, and I'm grateful for that," says Chad. “There were people who looked at my MRI and my CT scan and saw those things and said, ‘that's a dead man. He'll never recover from that.’ That's how severe it was. For some reason - obviously, I'm not dead. I'm not exactly sure why, but I'm very happy I'm not, and I want to make sure that I make a difference.”
Phillips says that it is important to remember that we don't get to choose when accidents happen, but if we prepare for them and use the proper head and safety gear while enjoying the great outdoors, chances are good that you'll never have to visit him in the emergency room.