The noon sessions I skate at are "adult open skating". This is good, because there are no kids -- but since they're not figure skating sessions it means there are often a lot of low-level recreational skaters. They happily skate in slow circles around the rink chatting with one another, while a few of us figure skaters work on more challenging stuff.
As a general rule, I watch out for them. I am doing fixed patterns which are supposed to be in specific parts of the ice, so in theory it'd be nice if they got out of my way. But I am much faster, and more maneuverable, so if I see somebody coming I stop or swerve around them. This generally works okay, though it can be frustrating for me (since I'm often unable to practice doing the pattern "right").
Yesterday was very uncrowded, and at one point there were only 3 people on the ice. I decided to quickly do a opposite-direction pattern while everyone was off the ice, since I rarely have space in which to do this. I started out just fine, but somehow even where there are only 3 people on the ice, they manage to try to occupy the same space. Thus it was that I saw an older recreational skater heading toward me.
I immediately slowed down and started to avoid him. Unfortunately he started to avoid me too, and we both managed to swerve in the same direction. We bumped shoulders, and he grabbed onto me. I'm not sure if he was trying to hold on to stand up, or trying to support me, or what, but since we were going in opposite directions that didn't work. I tumbled over backwards, bashing my elbow a bit, but unhurt. He, wearing hockey skates, slid right off the front of them and landed on his face.
I turned around to see if he was okay, and I saw him touching his nose, looking a bit dazed. My eyes quickly scanned for injuries, and I spotted a red mark on his forehead. His nose was also starting to bleed, and he was starting to stand up. Immediately I skated over and put my hand on his arm, telling him to sit still, not to try to get up yet.
He sat on the ice, leaning on his elbow, looking down. With gravity's help, his nose proceeded to bleed quite a lot, splattering bright red dots all over the fresh white ice. His head was bleeding too; it was quite a mess. I sat around on my heels, holding him still, not quite sure what to do. My coach asked if he was okay, and I said no, we needed paper towels or something. She hurried off the ice to get some.
I stayed with him, and considered my options. I didn't want to get anybody's clothes bloody, but I had to do something to control the bleeding. N skated over, and I asked if she had a towel or tissue or something. She handed me one tiny piece of kleenex, which seems terribly insufficient given the puddle of blood his nose was generating. But I used it to put pressure on his forehead, which I considered a bigger problem anyway.
Eventually Lisa came back with paper towels and an ice pack, and we helped him catch and stop some of the blood. I asked him a few times to tilt his head back, but he didn't. I'm not sure if he didn't understand, or wanted to keep the blood from getting on his clothes, or what. I kept asking him how he was feeling, and he kept saying that he felt fine. Which was surprising, given how much blood he was generating. It was all over the ice and his face.
Somebody from the side of the rink said they'd called the paramedics. He insisted that he didn't want anybody coming, that he felt fine, but I thought it was a good idea since he just kept bleeding away. Especially since he was an older fellow, I wanted to be sure somebody competent looked at him. I could tell that his head wound needed stitches, and I didn't know if he might have a broken nose and/or a concussion.
Finally, to my relief, they showed up. He was still bleeding, though less profusely. My coach and I took turns putting pressure on his head and encouraging him to hold towels over his nose. I was very happy to relinquish control to the medics, then I stood up and watched.
I felt soooo bad that this had happened! So did my coach. I mean, I know it was just a fluke accident, but still. One of his friends came up to me and said (jokingly), "Why don't you pick on somebody your own age?" He saw that I was upset, so he hastened to assure me he was only kidding, and "Anyway, he's only 74 after all."
Sheesh! The medics decided to take him to the hospital, because he definitely needed stitches and they wanted to verify nothing worse was wrong. So they bundled the poor fellow up into a stretcher and carted him away. "Sorry we messed up your ice," my coach said to the rink manager.
He just shook his head, looking at the bright red splatters and puddles. "It's okay, I've seen worse."
It was then that N mentioned that we should have been wearing rubber gloves, and I noticed there was blood all over my hands. Ohhh.... damn, that's right. I'm not trained in these things. I had been so worried about helping him, I hadn't even considered medical precautions. I excused myself as soon as possible, and thoroughly soaped and washed my hands. I examined them carefully, and I didn't see any nicks or scratches, so I don't think it's a big issue. Still a little freaky though.
Today my sister and I skated at a different rink, to see if it might be less crowded. I managed not to send anybody to the hospital, so I consider the experiment a success.