The Best Christmas Present

Dallas Glass wrote:

Hey Guys and Gals,

So, as Jenni alluded to several weeks ago now, I have had a very interesting time patrolling. I must say it's the BEST job I've ever had! My days have been full of setting fences, traffic control, sprained knees, broken arms, and great rookie jobs, but Christmas day will be a day i will never forget as long as I live.

I had spent an hour or so positioned at the top of our main lift (Northwest) awaiting calls when my boss Paulette unloaded and told me to take a run, and a break. I decided to take Around the World, a long (2 mile) green run that wraps its way down the mountain, a run often avoided by patrollers due to the flat sections. I thought I'd mend some fence, and take a nice stroll. Well, I did just that, I mended fences, and was cruising down through our beginner area when a call came in from Frank (our head cafeteria guy), "Patrol, help there's a lady in the cafeteria, and I think she's having a heart attack! Please, get someone here, quick, quick! Hurry!!!"

"Patrol, dispatch, is there a unit available to handle a 10-50 (accident) possible heart attack in the cafeteria?"

I waited. Nothing but silence. I couldn't take this, could I? I'm only a rookie. Rookies are supposed to deal with bloody noses, and bum knees, not heart attacks, right? Still nothing. "Dispatch, 238 (me) from Galena unload." I responded.

"238 it's all you!"

"First Aid, 238, i need the AED and first out pack to the cafeteria NOW!"

After that I don't think I've ever skied so fast in my life. I was yelling at people to get out of my way. I skied right up to the steps of the cafeteria, unfastening my tele-bindings before I even stopped moving. I flipped my skis and ran up the stars to the lodge. I busted through the double doors to see Frank frantically pointing, "There, there!" he shouted. I looked to see an elderly lady laying on the floor.

At about the same time, Scott Dacus (a fellow patroller) came through the opposite doors. He dropped down and checked her pulse. I dropped to my knees, adjusted her head and put my ear to her face. "Look, listen, feel," resounded in my head. Nothing. Scott said, "Pulseless", "Apneic" I responded. He tossed me a pocket mask as he began to take his shears to her shirt.

I repositioned her head and chin, placed the mask over her mouth and nose and breathed. "One one-thousand" I thought. "Not too much, you'll inflate her stomach! Then she'll puke! Everybody pukes!" my mind argued with itself. "Ok, one good breath deserves another" Time seemed to creep by. I gave a second breath. "No to fast! Don't hyperventilate her!" I scolded myself. I looked up. Scott was ripping through her third layer. No one was ready for compressions! "Am I going to have to do one person CPR?" I thought as I felt for a carotid pulse. I saw Ken, another patroller bust through the doors. "Ok, one more breath" I thought. "One one-thousand"

"Ken, compressions!" I barked, feeling again for a pulse. Ordering around a senior patroller isn't something I normally get to do. Ken dropped beside the lady across from me, placed his hands on the lady's chest and Boom!

Let's take a second and discuss crepitus. They always say you'll know it when you hear it. Well, let me assure you, when bones break, YOU'LL KNOW!

Ken repeated with a second compression. AHHH the noise! It would make you sick to your stomach if you weren't so preoccupied.

The lady groaned! She was up! "Ken! Stop! Stop! Stop!" I threw my hands up, as Ken went for compression number three. The lady lay below me weakly groaning, and moving her head. For a split second Scott, Ken, and I all stopped looked at each other in shear amazement. I don't think any one of us had thought past CPR and AED, not one of us had thought it would work. At that moment, Micah, another patroller, arrived with the AED and first out pack. Ken, and I began to assemble the O2 as Scott began to open the AED, just in case.

Fortunately for us, a group of paramedics were at the hill on another, much less serious call. They arrived almost immediately after we got oxygen on her. Before I knew it, I was done. The paramedics had taken over, and I was reduced to crowd control. I never saw any hard vitals except to hear that her heart rate was 48 beats per minute, and her BP was REALLY low. The lady was a 64 year-old Vietnamese women who did not speak English. Her daughter translated for the paramedics between sobs, i spent the next hour or so securing a landing zone for Careflight. I'm not sure how the lady is now, but I do know thatCareflight, landed, stopped the rotors, unloaded, went inside, spent 15- 20 minutes with the patient, transported her to the helicopter, and flew away. When she left the hill, she was stable, and I had a very Merry Christmas!

Sorry the story is SO long, but i feel it is best appreciated in detail. I look back on the whole series of events, and even now, I'm shaking as I type this. There isn't anything heroic about it, it was simple, and it was a happy ending.

Well, that's my Christmas Story, one that I'll never forget. A present that is better than all the gifts I've ever received. I hope it helps.

Hank Lewis wrote:

Fabulous story and very well written. I was hoping that you would do this for us and for yourself. Congratulations! What a way to start your patrolling experience. I suspect now you will know no fear in dealing with situations, which is what I would have expected having worked with you. Keep us up to date on your adventures. It helps us all to hear real world stories from the hill.
Happy New Year!

Alan Moore wrote:

I second Hank's sentiments... I've been wanting to call you to hear the story and am glad you wrote it down for all of us to share. I also recognized your high level of competence and intuitive grasp of this work and am not at all surprised you had a good outcome - you beat the odds by a long shot, congratulations!

Take care.