Skiing and snowboarding are wonderful activities that provide memorable experiences for winter enthusiasts all over the world. Like many outdoor sports, there are inherent risks that come with playing in the mountains. The best way to ensure you have an amazing experience is doing your homework before you leave for the mountains.
Things to Consider:
• Physical Conditioning: Understand the physical abilities and ability of everyone in the group, especially at higher elevations.
• Clothing & Equipment: Bring more gear than you think you will need.
• Terrain: Understand the unique terrain of where you are recreating.
• First Aid Equipment: Even if you don’t have training you should be prepared to treat common medical issues.
Learn from your previous experiences. If there is something that you routinely use, add those items to your gear list. It is also essential that you remember to bring extra food and water. You burn through energy staying warm and that extra snack is perfect to carry.
Prepare for the Elements
When skiing at a resort or recreating in the backcountry, it is vital that you are prepared to stay out in the elements much longer than you expect. A seemingly common injury takes much longer to mitigate in a mountain environment. It is very helpful to bring extra layers to stay warm when you or someone in your party is injured. The rule of thumb in all medical situations is to not become a patient yourself when assisting an injured party.
Common Medical Gear that Patrollers Carry
Ski patrollers have a limited amount of space to carry all of the medical gear they need for the job. Even when using a backpack, weight and space are major limiting factors. Versatility is crucial when selecting the right first aid equipment to have on hand. National Ski Patrol’s Outdoor Emergency Care program has a minimum list of recommended medical supplies for patrollers. However, it is best practice to personalize your first aid kit for the specific activity and location you’re recreating in. Patrollers often respond to soft tissue and skeletal injuries, but they are prepared for the very worst life-threating scenarios as well. Common items they carry with them are:
• Nitrile (non-latex) gloves
• Sterile dressings
• Triangular bandages
• Medical tape
• CPR mask
• SAM or C-Splint
• Assorted bandages
• EMT shears
• Oral airway set
• Nasal airway set
• Plastic bags
• Permanent marker
• Space blanket or bivvy
• Writing pad
What First Aid Items Should You Bring?
Your first aid kit should help you handle most common injuries that you are likely to encounter. If you are looking for a pre-packaged first aid kit to stay safe at the resort or in the wilderness, Adventure Medical Kits has a wonderful line of Mountain Series first aid kits. Available in several sizes, these kits are elegantly organized by category so you can quickly find what you are looking for. Their kits include quick guide instructions on how to treat common medical issues. Having a kit assembled by the experts takes the guesswork away and makes sure you are properly prepared. Still, we strongly recommend that you get additional training on how to treat common injuries and are familiar with the contents before heading outside.