A newfound respect for ski patrol

Dear Editor:

Last week my husband, my 17-year-old daughter and I spent our spring break skiing at Snowmass, a tradition for us. We love the Aspen area, the restaurants, the variety of skiing, the people, and last week I found one more reason to love it there – the ski patrol and 911 operators.

We were heading home on our last run of the day, a typical spring afternoon of slushy mess at the bottom, so we were trying to get a little momentum at the end of Longshot so we wouldn’t have to pole our way back. Suddenly my husband stopped, jumped out of his skis, and ran over to a boy we saw at the edge of a 20- to 25-foot ravine. We looked around and saw one ski at the bottom of the ravine and one track leading up to where the boy was vomiting blood. He had dialed 911 on his phone but couldn’t talk.

My husband took the cell phone to tell them where we were, and the operator talked him through what we needed to do: Keep him comfortable, ask him questions, and generally just keep him calm. We covered him up, and tried to keep him talking, and within about 10 minutes, the ski patrol was there. The first arrivals assessed the injuries, and the second arrived with the stretcher and by the time they had loaded him on the stretcher the ambulance was sounding at Two Creeks to take him to the hospital.

The accident investigators then tried to piece together what happened, with a likely scenario that he lost a ski at the top of the ravine and was airborne until he fell onto the rocks at the bottom. The good news is that he is going to be OK, thanks to the rapid response of the ski patrol. The 911 operator and the ski patrol director, Craig Chalmers, were incredibly helpful in talking us through what to do.

I have so much more respect for the ski patrol after seeing them in action. They were fast, professional, organized and efficient, as well as comforting to the victim. I’m sure ski patrols at other mountains are great, too, but this is one more reason why I love Snowmass. No one wants to think about ever having to use the services of the ski patrol, but knowing they are there gives us a great sense of comfort.

I just wanted to make sure the community is aware of their commitment, hard work and professionalism.

Elisha Zander

Nashville, Tenn.


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