I got a sharp reminder about the importance of first-aid skills while skiing at Mount Lyford yesterday. It was a gorgeous day, not quite enough snow but there were some really nice runs. It was Sarah and my first time using rope tows and “Nut Crackers” but we both seemed to get the hang of them fairly quickly and enjoyed the short runs they had on offer.
Late in the afternoon, immediately after a ski race with some friends, Sarah and I had left our jackets an the bottom of the rope tow and were doing laps skiing down in the sun in our tee shirts. I was on the rope tow admiring Sarah ski quickly down the soft snowy slope. She aimed towards the bottom of the rope tow, hit the small gully pretty hard and was still recovering as she needed to duck under the rope. She must have tangled an arm over the rope which spun her off course into the “Emergency Stop” button mounted on top of a waratah. She crashed into this waratah with her knee taking the impact. Having seen the crash I jumped off the rope tow and skied (rather quickly) straight back down to make sure she was okay.
She had some minor rope burn on her elbow and shoulder and was a bit disoriented. One of her friends was there as well so we both sat down and comforted her. Sarah said her knee was sore but the burns on her arm were worse. She stood up to show us her knee was fine, but felt queasy so sat back down. Her ski pants were unmarked at the knee and after seeing her tight under-armour long johns we didn't force the issue to actually see the knee. Holding snow on her burns and generally treating for shock with warmth and food was the treatment given.
This post is partly to remind myself, and possibly as a trigger for you the reader, the importance of doing a full check after an accident, remembering the patient may well be distracted or unable to tell the seriousness of injury.
After 20 minutes of sitting there the ski patroller joined us and gave her some water which did wonders. After some discussion she felt up to the challenge of going up the rope tow. It was at about this point I noticed I'd broken one of my ski bindings when I got off my skis in a hurry. Que an amusing ride for me holding onto one ski and attempting to balance on top of the other while being pulled up a rope tow. Reunited at the top of the rope tow we skied very slowly back towards the base – more because of my incompetence on one ski than Sarah going slow!
After an even more difficult pommel ride we made it back to the ski resort. Dumped our skis and went in to see about some first aid. We quickly discovered that Sarah's knee was completely ripped open. The patroller was really good, quickly cleaning the laceration and putting about eight butterfly stitches across it. Plans changed immediately from a destination of Hamner to Christchurch Hospital Emergency Department. Been there a bit too often lately!
Six hours and six stitches later we leave the ED and call it a day. Next outdoor first aid refresher that comes up has my name all over it.