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In Canada, the use of helicopters to extricate injured skiers directly from a ski area is an exception rather than a rule. For the vast majority of injured alpine skiers and snowboarders, the traditional ski patrol toboggan is the preferred method of transporting the victim off the slopes. This investigation will review 43 helicopter medical evacuations (medivacs) from one major Canadian ski area in British Columbia. This ski area had an annual incidence rate of injury of 2.74 per 1000 skier visits (SV) during the 1997–98 ski season (366 mean days between injury, MDBI). The incidence rate of medivacs was 0.041 per 1000 SV (24 279 MDBI). The mean age of the medivac patient was 28.9 years, the age range was 51 years (10 to 61), and 79% of the patients were male.
Medivacs at this ski area are dependent on helicopter availability, weather, and a rapid risk analysis performed on the ski field involving the attending ski patrollers and on-duty mountain physician. This paper will also explore training issues and other uses of a helicopter in a major ski center.
helicopter, injury, evacuation, ski, snowboard
Lecturer, School of Nursing and Public Health, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia