Lift op a real lifesaver
Polly Fitz-Gerald knew she would load chairlifts when she tooka job with the Aspen Skiing Co. for the winter. She had no ideashe would save a life. Fitz-Gerald, a lift attendant at the Silver Queen Gondola, knewsomething wasn’t quite right one day in January when a familiarface shuffled by. Her friend, a Brit named Scott, didn’t lookor sound like himself. “He looked green – really, really sick,” she recalled. Fitz-Gerald learned her friend had taken a nasty fall at the bottomof Walsh’s and later felt ill enough to ride the gondola down.She tried to persuade him to let the ski patrol check him out.He wanted no part of it and said he would just go home and sleep.”I said, `No, this is my job, you have to stay,’ ” Fitz-Geraldsaid. Scott stayed, the patrol responded and found him in rough enoughshape to call an ambulance to take him to the hospital. “They removed his spleen, part of his pancreas and five pintsof blood from his stomach,” said Fitz-Gerald. “If he had gonehome and slept, he might not have made it.” She said she visited Scott in the hospital a few times and herealized how lucky he was. He had recovered enough to return toLondon about two weeks ago. Fitz-Gerald and her boyfriend wentto his good-bye party. “It feels good to save somebody’s life, totally,” said Fitz-Gerald,23, who is visiting the United States this winter from Sydney,Australia. As if saving a life wasn’t enough excitement for a season, Fitz-Geralddid a second good deed the same week she helped Scott. She founda diamond-studded watch that a woman left in a gondola car. “It was a Cartier, worth a couple of grand, I suppose,” Fitz-Geraldsaid. She turned the jewelry in to the Aspen Mountain concierge. TheSkico has a policy that the person who turns in a valuable cankeep it if it isn’t claimed in two weeks. The owner inquired aboutthe watch one week later. “She wrote me a nice letter,” accompanied by a check for $100,Fitz-Gerald said. Her good deeds didn’t escape her colleagues. They wrote a letterto Skico President and CEO Pat O’Donnell nominating Fitz-Geraldfor special recognition. She received it Wednesday morning whenO’Donnell made a surprise visit and presented her with the Skico’sAward of Excellence. The presentation was made at the base of the gondola, with scoresof Skico workers and customers looking on. “She exemplifies everything that the Aspen Skiing Company wantsto stand for,” O’Donnell said after the presentation. “If youhad five hundred Pollys working for you, you’d have it made.”The Skico recognizes top-notch efforts by its employees with avariety of awards, but only the most extraordinary feats earnthe Award of Excellence. It’s new this year and has been awardedto eight of 3,200 employees. Fitz-Gerald isn’t sure she will be back to work at a ski resortagain, but she’s certain she won’t forget her season at AspenMountain. Along with her Samaritanism, she learned to ski. “Idid my first black diamond the other day,” she said, breakinginto a smile.
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