Letter: Remembering Dr. Bevins
The extreme kayaking community was very small in the ‘80s and I vaguely remember meeting Dr. Bill on the Encampment River in Wyoming. We shared many adventures after that, and I’ll always remember his cheerful smile and laughter. He was a very strong partner in whatever we did, and he always carried his emergency first aid kit. He was famous for stitching up many broken kayakers, and I had the privilege of seeing him in action on the Russel Fork River in Kentucky. We were relaxing after a great day of paddling, when Bill overheard one of the kayakers complaining about a cut on his hand.
“Could I see that?” he inquired in his calm Southern accent.
The kayaker’s aluminum shaft paddle had snapped in the middle of a class V rapid and was held together by a small hinge of aluminum. The kayaker had grabbed the middle of the paddle in a desperate attempt to survive the rapid, and the hinged section had come back together and cut a very deep gash into the muscles and tendons of his right hand.
Dr. Bill instantly sprang into action and set up an emergency table with the light of a gas lantern and quickly cleaned and stitched the wound. He told me later that the wound was really severe and required lots of intricate stitching. It could have easily gotten infected and caused permanent damage to the hand, but this was just an average day in the life of this great man. He will be deeply missed, but his spirit will always be with us.
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