In order to prepare for the upcoming ski season, Willamette Pass Ski Patrol holds a medical refresher and an on-hill refresher in November.
The patrollers face various different ski related scenarios during the course of these two days.
Jim Hutchinson is the assistant patrol director and head of the training task force.
Q&A with Jim Hutchinson of the Willamette Pass Ski Patrol
Q: What was the purpose of the medical refresher?
A: At the beginning of a patroller’s career they go through extensive medical training that’s called Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC)…so we basically do a whole year of training, but in order to keep our skills fresh, every year we have to review those. This year we were refreshing one third of those. We covered a wide, wide range of emergency topics, ranging from care of fractures, substance abuse, child birth—the whole range of different medical emergencies and injuries that we might face at the ski area.
Q: How does a lift evacuation work?
A: In the event that a chairlift malfunctioned and just stop running, we might have passengers stranded on the lift. That hasn’t happened here in at least 20 years, if not longer than that, but we have to be ready for it. What we do is we go through a process where we raise a T–chair up to each passenger and have them put a restraint around their upper body so they won’t fall off of the T. They slide the T underneath them and sit on that, and then we lower them down slowly to the ground. Everybody on the patrol is going through this process.
Q: What other ski area scenarios are there at the on-hill refresher this year?
A: We’re doing what’s called a mass casualty incident. If you have an accident with not one patient but as many as 20 patients, it’s a really challenging situation to deal with because you have to sort and prioritize all of the patients that are involved. Over there we have a simulated lift failure where there are many patients on the ground, some still up in a chair, and we’re having to sort through all of those patients and find out which ones deserve the highest priority for treatment. In that situation some of them are already dead. We don’t want to waste our time trying to help people who have no chance. We prioritize them into red, yellow and green. Red are the ones that are very urgent; they need our care right now. Yellow are the ones that are injured but probably can wait a littler longer. Then green are what we call the walking wounded. It’s a great opportunity for our teams to work together and to practice that important skill.