2011’s first day of ski patrolling brought an experience everybody dreads, but most of us patrollers never get to experience – I skied upon an unconscious person laying face down in the snow. My heart skipped not once, but at least twice. Although we practice these kinds of scenarios all the time during our training, it’s a completely different thing to be a first responder to a real life incident. There is A LOT more adrenaline flowing…
Luckily, my patient eventually came to, and the entire affair ended well. And that is the reason for this post – I know why! The guy was wearing a helmet! I shudder to think what the kind of impact he suffered would have done to him if he hadn’t, considering that he was completely knocked out for quite a while. And, from a completely subjective point of view – it certainly made our clean-up job a lot easier. : )
Helmet usage for the skiing and boarding public has more than doubled over the last seven years, and statistics spiked after two deadly accidents that happened only two days apart in March of 2009. One of them claimed Kathryn Miller – a veteran Jackson Hole ski patroller – and the other took the life of Natasha Richardson of Hollywood fame. Interestingly, as opposed to what’s true with motorcycle and bicycle helmet legislation, the snow sport helmet trend is growing without externally imposed incentives. Granted, both New Jersey and California now have bills introducing mandatory helmet use for minors pending, and on an international level, Italy and Austria have adopted helmet laws, but the overall increase in helmet use seems to be happening voluntarily – on a grass roots level. More and more people are realizing they have something to protect, and are opting to wear one, which is very encouraging news.
Although head injuries only account for 2.6% of the total number of injuries, they are indeed an exceptionally bad 2.6%. MUCH worse than a broken wrist or a tweaked knee. More than half of last season’s fatalities were actually wearing helmets, but don’t let that deter you from wearing one. Even if you are an expert on the slopes, there are thousands who aren’t and who can throw you into a tail spin before you can say HEL…. Many accidents are caused by those who don’t quite yet know what they’re doing. So, with the risk of sounding like the mom I am, I’m going to say it: JUST PUT IT ON!