On a rainy Sunday in November, us New Hampshire AMC ski leaders assembled to share safety advice. We covered group gear, incident management and weather. Other years, we have discussed how to handle an injured person, but this time, Scott decided we should go practice. The weather was perfect too. Cold and rainy enough to make everything difficult, but not so rainy as to put us in danger. Scott appointed the two least experienced folks as the trip leaders.
This trip was part of regular training provided by the NH AMC.
I brought my portrait lens on my camera, so all the photos are closeups of people looking puzzled. You’ll have to imagine our surroundings.
We followed a wheelbarrow track into the woods. After hiking 5 minutes, we discovered a comatose skier sprawled on the ground. It’s head was against a rock, and one of it’s ski broken. This skier was made out of discarded fire hose.
Our leaders made the classic mistake of diving into patient’s medical care and forgetting the rest of the group. We reminded them to step back and delegate. They seemed to get the hang of it.
A few folks lit a fire for team spirit and to warm water. JR used hand sanitizer to get the fire going and said it worked well. The fire did warm the people next to it. But we didn’t have enough fire to melt snow. Ash and branches fell into a cup of stream water when we tried to warm it. Sean pulled out his camping stove and had snow melted within a minute.
Meanwhile another group worked on medical care for the patient. Casey played head medic. She got her helpers to find extra layers in the patient’s pack, and get the patient untangled from the rock. Then they wrapped the patient in a tarp. The classic “burrito”. The tarp wasn’t quite big enough, so they tried using a bothy, but it wasn’t the right shape. The best the bothy could do was cover one medic and the patient’s head. After 10 minutes, the tarp had collected a puddle of rain water around the patient. Away from the patient, I showed four other people how to use the bothy bag. Our consensus was that we needed a bigger tarp to wrap the patient; another tarp overhead to keep the rain off; and the bothy was best for keeping inactive trip participants warm.
The last group tried to make a sled to haul the skier out. The broken ski was a puzzler. They couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Nor had Scott been able to years ago when he broke it on his own trip. The final sled looked mostly structural, but it wasn’t clear how to stabilize a comatose patient on it. And much of the structure looked like it would dig into the snow and not move. Using a roll up kid sled without any structure might have been a better idea.
A few people learned their gear wasn’t as waterproof as they thought. Only one person got cold because of it. We never did decide whether to haul the patient out or to send for help. After an hour, Scott decided we had learned enough. So we packed the skier back into the wheelbarrow and carted it back to the lodge.
All my photos