Saturday, January 20, 2007

The radio code for an incident on my ski hill is "10-40", no matter the severity - torn rotator cuff, dislocated knee, sprained ankle, and internal organ damage due to trauma are just some examples of the 10-40's I've attended to this season.
But there's a category of 10-40's that I feel deserves a different code - the splinter, the bruised calf - I call these injuries "10-Baby"s. Sure it's better to be safe than sorry, but come on...

Most recently I had 10-Baby call from a 57 year old lady, with whom there was a language barrier, and who was accompanied by two incredibly pushy overprotective males. When I arrived on scene she was unwilling to move her right leg and the pain was 10 out of 10. This is incredible pain, the most you could imagine ever having, on par with pain felt from injuries such as a broken pelvis, torn achilles tendon, or testicular torsion. So, I expose the injury to reveal...nothing. Then I asked her to identify the area that hurt and determined it was near neither bone nor tendon. This was my first hint that I was looking at a 10-Baby, my second hint being the fact that the pain seemed to move, with each attempt in finding the pain resulting in a different location. Sure enough, time revealed that the pain moved from a 10 to a 6 to a 4 and finally ended with her walking out of the first aid room, no treatment done and no limp apparent.

Perhaps our society is getting more pussy and the slightest bit of discomfort turns us into whining deteriorating fools. Perhaps with time we've become adapted to an unchanging environment of constant weather, temperature, slope and lighting, namely our house. Perhaps the lesson to people of the 21st century is that if you work up the courage to leave the living room, expect the possibility of discomfort. And please don't call ski patrol when your muscles hurt.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I love my job but ... yesterday I had a moment of ...discomfort.

It was the last run of the night, the sweep, when patrollers ski down the hill yelling to make sure people know the mountain is closed and cleaning up the runs that are groomed in the night. It was also snowing hard with wind gusts reaching 60km/hr +, which you can imagine would increase when funneled up natural features on the mountain.
I was in one of these said wind tunnels having much difficulty rolling up a 4 ft x 30 ft orange plastic fencing that apparently makes a good kite in high winds, then again apparently so do I. Just pulling the bamboo out of the snow without being tangled in fencing was a feat unto it self, but as I rolled, the frozen slippery bamboo poles would slide right out of the fencing. The first couple of times this happened I fought the wind (winning some, losing more) to slowly weave the bamboo back into the fence. After a while of this I decided it was futile and I would just buy the morning crew a beer if they complained. As a note of interest, screaming in the wind on an empty hill is fun and relieves you of frustration but ineffective if you were actually trying to be heard.

By the time I was done that small mission, I took stock and realized one of my poles was missing. So now I'm kicking snow up hoping that my boot or other pole would catch my missing pole. The combination of powder, dirt and ice underneath and wind made for unstable standing conditions and several falls occurred. When my co-worker called me on the radio to make sure I was alright, I was no closer to finding my pole and was shamefully forced to admit to her, and anyone with a radio who was bored and listening, that I had lost my pole on a green run. Because they needed to close the chair lift, I was left searching and would have to travel up the hill to the patrol room with the lift maintenance guy on the skidoo. Ironically, and satisfyingly, I found my pole as the patrollers passed overtop me in the chair.

The skidoo ride was nothing short of an adrenaline rush that I didn't necessarily need. Mildly deathly scared of the speed, worried of losing my skis and poles off the back, not to mention my stomach, I was holding on with a death grip to the only accessible hold I could find and, since he was standing up, tried to refrain from smashing my face into his ass after we got air. 'Holy fuck' would've been the short version of that story.

Ok, I admit the skidoo ride was sort of fun. And I guess storms and snow make for good skiing later.
Alright I love my job again.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The ski/snowboard season has begun. And with great snow conditions comes numerous mountain incidents.

Yesterday I got the call to respond to one in the chalet shortly after I punched in. Standing at guest services he was complaining of tingling fingers. Thinking to myself, 'this guy called first aid because his fingers are warming up?', I asked him how long he had been cold. He answered, "yesterday".

It was the first run of the season, 1pm on Sunday, when he dropped into the backcountry to get some fresh tracks. The trees were tight and he quickly got disoriented. Deciding he might be close to the parking lot, he walked downhill following a creek through chest high powder but as the cold and night set in, he very wisely decided to a) abandon his downhill trek and follow his tracks back to where he originally dropped in and b) never stop moving.
26 hours later he on had dry blankets, heat pads upper his arm and was lucky to be recounting the evening to us in between chattering teeth. If he had delayed a couple of hours he would've found himself in the dark again, but this time facing -15 degrees C temperatures in his wet clothing.
The scariest part was that no one had alerted the search team.