This is probably gonna be a long one, so before you start you might want to get something to drink, go to the bathroom and let the dog outside. It’s OK I wont start without you.
Ok you ready?
When I started competing in BBQ in 2011 I set goals for our team. This was to give us something realistic to work for and to avoid wasting money for no reason. Examples of such were not finishing dead last, have fun and hopefully better our cook. This year’s first comp was no exception.
Before I start let me go back to our first year of competing. We went to a non-sanctioned competition in Godfrey, IL. It was a comp with plenty of heat, humidity and Cicadas. Ask my son what he thinks of Cicadas, his response probably isn’t very flattering.
This was a less than stellar cook. I had a huge grease fire and the chicken was absorbing heavy white smoke. That is definitely not what you want. As we were turning in our food nothing made me happen, I didn’t even taste the chicken because I knew it was bad.
At the awards ceremony my son was off playing. It was just my wife, my daughter and myself. While sitting there, my daughter asks me “Dad can I go up and get the trophy if we get one?”.
I think sure why not, what are my chances, slim at best? Low and behold we got 3rd in chicken and as promised she was allowed to make the walk to the front to get our ribbon and check.
Now fast forward to this past weekend. It was just going to be me and my son this time. My wife was sick and my daughter didn’t feel like going.
I was pretty excited that this was going to be a father/son weekend. I don’t get to spend as much time as I would like because I work 2 full-time jobs as a paramedic. I had set pretty high expectations about wanting to do really good at this competition. I had been playing around with the new flavor profile this winter and have been feeling pretty optimistic about doing good. To add to the stress I wanted to place in the top 5 so my son could get the opportunity to walk to the stage to get a trophy.
My weekend started with getting off work on time and fully rested. That hasn’t happened in a long time and was really worried that I would be trying to make the trip tired and late.
On my way home I remembered I had a slow leak in a tire and something told me to get it fixed before we head out. My initial plan was to just fill it up before we go and then if needed before we headed back, but I had a bad feeling we were going to blow a tire on the way down. Heck we were already going to be cutting it close getting there in time to get stuff done. I didn’t want any unnecessary delays.
After determining it was just a leaky valve stem extension the fix was quick and free.
I wanted to leave town at 9, but 10 at the latest. We were on the road at 10:02.
The road trip there was pretty entertaining. My son got to relive the 80’s and 90’s era of music with me. I can’t believe how many songs I knew the words to.
Once we hit Kentucky, the winds really started playing with the motorhome and the steep grades testing the engine and transmission. It was a bit frustrating being stuck behind semis struggling to maintain 55 mph and knowing you only had 57 mph worth of speed in your vehicle with no way to pass. I hate giving up forward momentum.
We arrived on site at around 5 pm. We started to unload and get set up. Normally we are there a lot earlier and are out socializing with our friends at that point.
I asked my son to finish getting some stuff out while I went over to say hi to Gilly’s BBQ. I typically would wait until later but after that drive I needed to have a break of sorts. After a brief talk I noticed a KCBS rep golf cart driving towards us. This was great I needed to get my meat inspected. Normally I would have to walk around trying to find someone who knew who was doing the inspections.
We get through the inspections and the reps are about give us our entry containers when I hear something you never expect to hear at a competition.
“SOMEONE HELP!!! HE JUST COLLAPSED AND I DON’T THINK HE IS BREATHING!!!!!!!!!”
OMG!!! did I just hear that right? Not waiting to hear it again, the paramedic instinct took over. I apologized to the reps and out the door I ran into the direction of the man on the ground.
The assessment started as soon as my eyes locked in on his body. Hoping it would be the common result of the “collapsed not breathing” nature, a seizure patient, it was not. I approached the slowly becoming cyanotic gentleman, announced I was a paramedic to the bystanders and checked for a pulse.
Just a moment ago the only thought going through my mind was I needed to start injecting my meats, now here I was performing CPR. Again the duck on the water scenario was, I’m sure, playing true. Calm and collect on the outside but 100 mph on the inside.
I knew what I wanted to do, attach a heart monitor, intubate, start an IV and if the pt could be so fortunate to have a shockable rhythm, defibrillate him.
I asked for an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator), these are becoming more and more popular in public places for the layperson to use in situations exactly like these. This site unfortunately did not have one.
Still this stranger, BBQ competitor, BBQ aficionado or whoever he may have been, has the all of the right things happening for him to have a good outcome. Early CPR, with frequent changes in fresh personnel to ensure high quality compressions. My son even played a role in helping by running to get us gloves. I don’t even think he let me finish making the request. He told me later that if he didn’t do it then someone would have had to stop CPR to go get them.
The EMS crew arrived on scene, treated and transported him to the hospital.