GANANDA, N.Y. (WROC) — A small delay in running a basic errand put Ray McLean at the corner of Gananda Parkway and Walworth Road at 7 p.m. on September 22 of last year.
That’s where he saw a wrecked motorcycle and Austin Sierra, 17, underneath it.
“There was a lot of blood, there was body tissue all over the place. He was conscious and I noticed he had a left lower leg amputation below the knee,” McLean remembers.
After McLean told those looking on to remove the bike, his instincts as a former paramedic kicked in.
“I immediately said let’s get a tourniquet. I didn’t have time to look for one, someone just handed me a tourniquet and slapped it on him, put it on him. He then passed out,” McLean said.
In the right place at the right time.
It didn’t quite seem like it that night, with the helicopter flying Austin to the hospital, but what happened on that flight turned out to be a story Austin Sierra is alive to tell.
“My first memory was me seeing my dad. I went into cardiac arrest on the Mercy Flight and my dad passed away in 2019 and I saw him in the chopper while getting airlifted to Strong,” Sierra said.
Sierra awoke to a doctor telling him he lost his left leg.
“Honestly, I was just happy to be alive,” Sierra said. “I had already known when they went to tell me that my leg was gone. I had known about it on scene so it wasn’t that much of shocker. It was just more of being grateful that I was alive and starting my journey.”
A journey fueled by the goal to not miss out on life.
“Because this is my senior year,” Sierra said. “I knew that I wanted to ride again, that I wanted to come back to school to see my friends and I wanted to get out there and live life as a teenager again.”
And he did.
Sierra returned to school just 51 days after Ray McLean found himself in the right place at the right time.
“That was sheer grace of God that he showed up when he did,” Sierra said.
Dr. Mark Gestring, who heads up the UR Medicine’s Kessler Trauma Center, agrees.
“There’s no question that the actions that were taken right at the scene saved the kid’s life,” Dr. Gestring said.
Dr. Gestring and his team know what McLean did that night was remarkable, but not hard.
In fact, they’re part of the Stop the Bleed program which shows regular folk how to use a tourniquet, comparing the training to CPR.
“We’re trying to get bleeding control kits into the public space so that anybody can get access to one of these things,” Dr. Gestring said.
So more and more people can do what Ray did — what Austin’s mom told Ray she would not have been able to do.
“And that really hit home. Your family, my family, if they were laying in that ditch, I would want them to have the same chance at life,” McLean said.
By having someone there with the right tool and the right training, because McLean says it should not come down to someone like him being in the right place at the right time.