A Few Words About the Blair Saddle
My namesake saddle. The flagship of the fleet, if you will, also the belt credited by an orthopedic surgeon with saving a young climber from a wheelchair and a lifetime of paralysis after sustaining a 50′ fall. In May of 1984 a 22 year-old climber took a 50′ fall out of a euc he was removing and broke his back over a Husky 185 when he hit the ground. He fell into a 15′ high thicket of poison oak and it took the paramedics several hours to effect the rescue. His back broken, the climber was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. The doctors credited the width and substance of the backpad with saving him from permanent paralyzing injury. They said that the belt acted like a splint and held the bones in his spinal column in vertical alignment as they broke against the chainsaw. They said that a lighter-duty belt would have offered no support and in all likelihood the bones would have splintered instead of merely breaking. The result would have been a lifetime in a wheelchair. The chainsaw looked like it had been crushed by a truck. I visited the young man in the hospital. Six months in a fiberglass body cast later I got a call from him that he was well recovered and mobile.
If I’ve been dramatic, it’s not been to capitalize on a man’s misfortune. I’m deeply affected by anyone who is injured doing tree work, but I’m also very proud that one of my designs saved a man’s life.
The story I just told is a dramatic example of how a quality tool, properly selected and properly used can come through for the user in an unexpected manner. Older, experienced climbers with bad backs are selecting these saddles for the added support. I believe that a younger climber who starts right out with properly fitted and supportive equipment, uses correct hearing protection and follows sound advice in lifting, never need to have to brag somewhat self-consciously twenty years down the line about being deaf and wiped out in the back. These belts are tangible examples of our commitment to improving the safety and welfare of the tree worker.