Review of a well managed incident:
A high school aged male skiing down rock face in woods between Upper
Contour and Twin Hemlocks. He lost control in deep snow and impacted a
tree. In the fall and impact his left ski failed to release. A report of
an injured skier with a knee injury was reported. 3 patrollers responded 1
on machine from Weasel Gulch, 1 from Chair 1 tower 4, 1 loading bottom of
chair 2. Snowmobile had very quick response time.
First on scene patrol found a skier off trail apx 50 feet in deep snow. He
complained of severe pain to left leg at boot top area. A rapid body survey
was done with a focus survey on the injury. Pt was quick splinted. This
was accomplished before the 2 additional patrols arrived on scene.
Toboggan was dragged into the woods loaded and extricated to Twin
Hemlocks. The tow rope on the snowmobile was utilized to get Patroller and
loaded toboggan out of the flats in Twin Hemlocks as well as getting from
the bottom of 2 to the tunnel entrance to patrol. In the patrol room a
whole body survey was done with a repeat focus survey on the injured leg.
Mother was contacted and being close came direct to patrol room. While
waiting for mother, a boot removal was done, with the leg re-splinted in a
cardboard splint, ice and elevation also provided. With review of injury
and current condition it was recommended by patrol to activated EMS, mother
agreed. Pt was transported via EMS. He did sustain a boot top fracture of
1. Don't prejudge a reported injury. As I learned from my first training
officer, Captain Schultz, "every run you respond to, plan on being shot at,
someone will be bleeding, in arrest, and needing longboarding". As I was on
lift 1 and got the report of "knee injury on Twin Hemlocks" I envisioned a
beginner with a slow rotational injury, not a high impact situation in the
woods. We did continue to respond aggressively until injuries were
confirmed. In this case a good practice, and one I will maintain. It is
easier to back down a response then to ramp up a response.
2. Dave Nelson was initial patroller and managing patroler. He did an
awesome job managing the patient alone.
- Do a rapid body scan including a nexus exam on everyone
- The quick splint is a great device in the field
- We are the experts in boot removal. Do it.
- A cardboard splint is a better splint to transport to the hospital in.
3. The snowmobile is great in the flats. Consider practicing being towed
by the snowmobile.
- rope wrap
- gradual tensioning rope and initiating movement
- speed of tow
- release of rope without stopping.
Talk to me if you have questions or want a demo.
4. "Should I have activated EMS right away". Though a patroller will never
be "wrong" activating EMS in this case no, the patroller was not wrong not
activating EMS. EMS was activated strictly for pain management. Not for a
concern for life or limb endangering issue. If in the same situation EMS
was immediately activated and you asked me "was I wrong activating EMS" my
answer will still be the same, no you were not wrong. The way it was
handled in this case was very appropriate, allow mother to be present and
participate in decision.
5 what could be improved
- Initial patroller should call out on scene (on arrival) this may or
may not include initial impression, but let us know you have arrived on
- If you are in a bad radio spot try using a lift operator in the top of
one of the lifts to relay for you
- We should have asked someone to stay at the top of upper contour where
the kids enter this area to prevent skiers from approaching from above.
6. A practical review of closed run, pass clipping: from my understanding
this was not an out of bonds issue, as we had not closed Twin Hemlocks. If
Twin Hemlocks was properly closed for night skiing and someone was to drop
this area they would have no choice but to exit the area on a closed run.
No matter how someone gets onto a properly closed run, being on that run
should result in a warning (clipping of a corner of their pass) or if pass
has been clipped previously, removal of pass.