How Are Winter Sports Injuries Handled on the Mountain?

Part 1 of 5 Intermountain Healthcare is prepared for anything in tough terrain

SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) -- Winter sports injuries are common place especially here in Utah. They can be unfortunate accidents, but first responders at Intermountain Healthcare partnered with other agencies say they are prepared for the worst while handling the unique terrain of snow packed mountains.

In part 1 of our 5 part series we look at how doctors work with clinics to help the injured in the most challenging circumstances and save lives. 

Doctors say ever since the 2002 Olympics put Salt Lake on the map for world class skiing, winter sport injuries have been on the rise.
It may be comforting to know, if you do have an accident on the mountain you don't have to wait to get down the canyon to get the necessary care.

In fact, the clinic at Snowbird does more x-rays than many other clinic.

Joe Buckle has an ankle injury and is quickly transported by van to the main plaza at Snowbird Ski Resort and wheeled into the Intermountain Healthcare Clinic at the bottom of the mountain

Ski Patroler Sam Chovan, who's the first responder, takes down the report.

Joe is examined like any other clinic you'd walk into.
Joe Buckle, "I don't think it's broken. I can move my toes and ankle."

On vacation half way around the world from her home country of Australia, Joe is thankful for a seamless transition from being on the mountain, meeting with a ski patroller to down to the clinic within 15 minutes.

Joe, "it's very reassuring. Hoping it's nothing serious."

It's reassuring for the many patients who come through here, roughly 1200 of them a year during any given ski season.
Dr. Ellen Guthrie, Intermountain Health, "we are an emergency clinic. A hybrid between an urgent care and emergency room being up a canyon we have to be prepared for anything."

That includes heart attacks.  Dr. Guthrie says she's seen at least two heart attacks this season.

Back to Joe and her injury. The swelling concerns the doctor and recommends doing an X-ray.
Turns out, Joe broke her ankle.
The Snowbird Intermountain Healthcare Clinic is prepared for anything. They have the expertise and the equipment for being on the mountain.


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