Hannah Smith was only a 16-year-old high school basketball player in rural Lebanon, Oregon, when she herd the screams of her father. Their father, a millwright at a local factory, was working on pulling a tree stump out of the ground using a rig. When Hannah and her sister, who was 14 at the time, came running they found their father sprawled under the engine block of his 1949 fire-engine-red Ferguson TO-20.

Somehow the machine managed to turn itself round, and it did not have a roll cage. The motor was still running and the weight of the engine lay across him – that’s 1.4 tones of weight to be exact.

Hannah and her sister desperately tried to dig their father out. Just the day before, their father has tilled this patch of garden to prepare for planting, meaning the ground was soft. Hannah – 5ft and 3 inches, 125 pounds – clawed at the earth with her bare hands, screaming to her sister to do the same. This wasn’t making any difference as their father continued to struggle for air.

Hannah and her sister then took hold of the smaller front tires, wrapping their arms around it and counted one, two, three. The Ferguson didn’t move. Whilst sweat ran down Hannah’s face and forehead, she started to feel lightheaded but on their 3rd attempt, they finally managed to create movement and managed to move the tractor 3ft and their father was able to get out.

But, how?

“Behind her forehead, deep in her temporal lobe, twin nut-sized neuron clusters had by this point show an electrical signal over her hypathalamus, another neuron cluster, which in turn activated the adjacent pituitary glands, whose function it is to broadcast a portfolio of hormonal messengers throughout the body’s various systems. “

“Among other things, the epinephrine would have flooded her liver, then bound chemically with cells there to help form glucose – giving her a bust of energy, the stressor equivalent of a sugar high. Coursing through her bloodstream, the epinephrine would have entered her heart, found the pacemaker cells there and emboldened them to make that muscle beat harder, faster, stronger – a myocardial turbocharge for the whole of her anatomy.”

Originally written by Andrew Hancock and published on ESPN

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *