Diary of a Ski Patrolman: Week 3
But there were extra little things I could do to help. I asked where they were from, and if I knew that area, I’d talk about it. Something like that might make them feel more comfortable, as if they were with someone that knows more than just their name and injury. Because at the end of the day, we’re dealing with endless dimensional human beings, we are not just dealing with names with injuries. Certainly we are doing first aid, but we are also just being there for our patient, as someone to talk to and as a comforter in a time of distress. I see both parts as important, and I think to be a really effective patroller, I will need to develop both sides and avoid having an “aid imbalance,” where I might focus on the physical aid, over the mental, or vice versa. Yes, we treat physical ailments, but just as much, we treat our patients as they should be treated as dynamic, unique individuals who on this day needed us.
I arrived at the mountain this morning as a bundle of excitement. I knew my test was going to be soon, and I was feeling just about as ready as I think I’ll ever feel for anything that I’ve spent two months preparing for. Of course, I also think this was the first test that I’ve spent more than a few days preparing for.
And I sure am glad I had two months of training because my test required just about all of the knowledge and skills I’ve learned as a part of Okemo ski patrol. All morning I was visualizing what condition my “patient” might be in, and what steps I’d need to take to successfully bring him down to the base. Different scenarios ranging from some crazy middle of the woods extrication, to something simple ran through my mind as possibilities.
So when I was told where to go, and found my fellow patroller lying on the edge of the trail as my patient, I had to quickly clear my mind, and begin reacting to rather than anticipating what injuries he might have. Although I had awesome help from a few of the veteran patrollers during the test, I was the leader and dictated what needed to be done, and in what order. Leading the operation and care of a patient is a difficult task, but a necessary one. Even if the leader is not using his or her hands on the patient — although I was also doing that today — the leader has the responsibility of assigning people to various tasks. On a real accident, with all of the skier traffic and activity around an accident site, one can begin to see how the care leader could have the hardest job of all. But it’s rewarding too — knowing what to do for just about any problem I’ll be faced with, and knowing that I can finally go out and help those in need…
Tomorrow in fact, I’ll be leaving the summit hut and heading off across the snow to my first real patient. Now it really begins…