SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Utah)   We continue our 5 part series on winter sports injuries and the partnership with Intermountain Healthcare that saves lives on the mountain.

In part two, we focus on the vital role of having a ski patrol team at Snowbird Ski Resort.

There are Intermountain Health doctors who are actually skiing among visitors.
They are part of the ski patrol team, a team prepared for any accident and are able to render aid right then and there on the mountain.

Kayte Suslavich, Ski Patrol “any day could be a day with accidents and different hazards on different days.
Kayte Suslavich and her ski patrol team at Snowbird make sure the slopes are safe every morning.
“We have to do the set up whenever you see banners or signs, that’s us. In general, with better visibility, people feel more confident but that may mean people may ski faster.”

It’s ski patrol who got Joe Buckle down the mountain and into the Intermountain Health clinic, last week, when she broke her ankle.
Buckle, ‘my skies got in the powder; just twisted it and my ski didn’t come off.”
In more severe accidents, it’s critical to provide life saving care on the mountain.

Dr. Ellen Guthrie is in the clinic today, but she’s part of a team who often skis on the mountain, prepared for any emergency.
“on the mountain, we not only have a top notch patrol we have physicians, Physician on the Mountain program.  We always have an emergency physician, trauma surgeon, or an orthopedist skiing with the radio.”

Having a radio to signal the need for more personnel and equipment.

Suslavich, “if anyone has an injury, this will come for you: a toboggan and it always comes with a burrito which has a sleeping bag and splint. Other things we can use, this is our O2 bag.  If you call for a backboard, there’s a collar, blanket.”

Tyler O’Roarke needed every bit of that equipment when he fell snowboarding and broke his back last year.
O’Roarke, “I was laying on my back on the slopes. I remember laying there. Ski patrol loaded me on the toboggan. That ride down was really painful.”

The ski patrol team has the equipment, knowledge of the mountain, and skill to give advanced care and life support.
Suslavich, “it’s a challenging mountain. People end up in situations they don’t want to be in but that’s our job to get out of those situations.”

The Physicians on the Mountain program has been around since 1971. They are volunteers who are official members of the ski patrol team. 

Ski patrol says: respect the signs. Crossing an avalanche gate is a misdemeanor and could cost you your pass.