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Injuries on the slopes lead to appreciation for VCH staff and physicians


One of the things many of the communities in Vancouver Coastal Health's Coastal region are known for is their mountains and access to recreation. Come winter, the allure of the slopes calls to many. But unfortunately, like with many high-velocity sports, when something goes wrong, the potential for significant injuries in high.

This is where the incredible staff and physicians of VCH are called into action. Whistler Health Care Centre, Lions Gate Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital staff and physicians have recently been publicly acknowledged for their actions by grateful family members and patients.

The first two are from Pique Magazine (Whistler) – letters to the editor (March 7, 2019) and the last kudos comes from a grateful parent on Twitter:

Snowboarding accident highlights our impressive emergency medical system

My stepson, who recently moved from Vancouver to Squamish, is an accomplished athlete in snowboarding, rock climbing and running. At age 30, he is in peak physical shape.

In early January, he and his brother and two friends boarded the Creekside Gondola for a day of snowboarding in fresh powder. It's a mountain he grew up on, but an unexpected impact with a tree stump changed (my stepson's life in an instant).

What played out over the next 48 hours is an example of our medical system working in the way it was designed to. Years of training, intuitive decision making, skill and teamwork all came together with the best possible outcome any family could ask for. 

It all started with the quick action of the Whistler doctor on the hill who recognized the seriousness of the injury and began administering pain meds (intravenously). Every day, doctors free ski Whistler (Mountain) with a radio and a backpack containing emergency medicine. This is a service that saves lives on the mountain, and our family strongly supports this program.  

The ski patrol got him to an ambulance, which took him to the Whistler Health Care Centre. We are so grateful for the stellar Whistler doctors who immediately diagnosed the seriousness of his injury and requested he be air lifted to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).

The weather gods were kind that day and the air ambulance arrived in an hour. The team of paramedics on the helijet kept him alive while he flew the 25 minutes to VGH, another superb link in this chain of emergency medicine. 

When he landed at VGH, he was immediately taken to a new state-of-the-art hybrid operating room. A team of trauma surgeons, led by Dr. Emilie Joos, and every available specialist at the hospital that afternoon worked to keep my stepson alive.  

That chain of professionalism extended to the ICU doctors and nurses who kept him safe those first tense nights and those who cared for him for five weeks in hospital. 

My stepson's case is a trauma team's golden moment when they can be proud of what went right. While the case is already the talk of the medical community—this one's for the record books—they plan to share his success story far and wide.

No words can express the thankfulness our family feels towards all the medical professionals who brought their "A" game every step of the way.

Meanwhile, the rehabilitation is going well and I have no doubt that my stepson will be back on the mountain next season with a whole new perspective on life. 

Ingrid Abbott, Tsawwassen

Grateful for the excellent care

I unfortunately suffered a freak accident while out skiing Boundary Bowl back on Feb. 13.

The reason for this letter is to thank those who made my immediate evacuation from the mountain as caring, calm and professional as possible.

(Thank you to) the wonderful women who reported the accident and then stayed with me until the ski patrol came. All I can remember is that you lived in Black Tusk. I will be eternally grateful for the support you gave.

Thank you to the patroller, Ian, who, with the aid of colleagues, a (toboggan) and a Ski-Doo, got me to the base of Whistler—again it was reassuring to be in such professional hands.

Lastly thank you to Dr. Clark Lewis at the (Whistler Health Care Centre). I, apparently, under much medication kept calling you the coolest doctor in the world. I can only apologize ...

In more than 20 years of skiing Whistler, this was my first, and hopefully last, call on the services of the emergency mountain and town staff. I can only thank you all once again.

Mike Wilmot, Whistler

Martin Jones‏ @therecedinghl

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