George Bearskin thought he had a bit of good luck when he spotted a caribou crossing the road Dec. 3. He was driving a grader on a lonely stretch of road at kilometre 342 near LG-4 and pulled over to the side. “I saw the caribou in the treeline and I shot it,” he said. After seeing the caribou go down he went back to the truck because he had left his knife in his lunchbox.
Returning to the caribou he turned it over and went to work getting the hide off. “As I was cutting the chest and got to the stomach my knife popped out,” he recounted. He cut himself about an inch above his thumb, severing an artery. “There was a geyser of blood,” Bearskin remembers. “I tried to stop the bleeding by pressing my hand on it. It didn’t stop.” Bearskin stood there for a “couple of minutes’ wondering what to do and started back to the road. Two vehicles went by without stopping and then two police came by. Looking at Bearskin the police weren’t worried at first but decided to stop to check things out. They saw all the blood. Bearskin remembers the police being more worried than he was at that point, “because they knew how serious it was.” The two SQ officers, Louis Nault and Marc Filion of the Radission detachment, were actually on their way to the airport as they were scheduled to fly out that day. They put an emergency bandage on the wound but the bleeding wouldn’t stop. Bearskin said the trip took about 20 minutes to travel the roughly 40 kilometres to LG-4’s nursing clinic. “When we got there we had to find the clinic,” said Bearskin. “We were running around and as we got to the corridor where the clinic was my legs started to get shakey.” Bearskin said the corridor started to spin and he hit the floor gasping for air. The next thing he knew was the nurse was giving him a needle and slapping his face to keep him awake. Bearskin had fainted and was going into shock. A helicopter was called to medivac him to the Chisasibi hospital. Bearskin said he was still bleeding at this point.
He arrived in Chisasibi around 1:15 p.m. Two doctors working on him phoned a specialist in Amos who told them what to do. They pinched the vein at either end and the bleeding stopped.
“A little farther off the road and I wouldn’t be here,” Bearskin said. “I was very lucky. If the police hadn’t stopped who knows how long it would have been until the next vehicle and I would have passed out trying to make it to LG-4.” Bearskin said his family was very happy with the outcome and they think it was a miracle he is alive. Bearskin ended his tale with a seasonal greeting: “I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I want to remind everyone to be careful over the holidays.”