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Snowmobile Use

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I patrol at a small midwest ski area. (3 lifts). In the past we used the snowmobile quite a bit: mostly, bringing toboggans to the injured skier/boarder, bringing replacement toboggans to the top of the hill and bringing extra patrollers or equipment to the accident.

Recently there has been a change in management and the new policy strictly limits the use of our snowmobile. We have been told to use it only to bring replacement toboggans to the top of the hill, to bring O2/Traction splint to the patient and/or to respond to life threatening situations. Management mentions liability as the reason for the policy.

My question is: how unique is the our new situation. How does it compare to the average situation.

And interstingly enough there are also rumors circulating that we may be told by management to NOT apply traction (we use the Sagar) splints on midshaft femur fractures. That seems way out of line.

Comments anyone? Thanks
post #2 of 17
Our patrol has 9 snowmobiles and rely on them a lot. That said, we are always incouraged to use other methods (i.e., skiing) whenever possible.

Snowmobiles by many accounts are the number one liablity issue with resort operations. Any collision between a snowmobile and a guest is almost automatically considered the snowmobile's fault regardless of reality. It is purely a loss-prevention measure to reduce a resort's snowmobile operations on the hill.
post #3 of 17
Regarding traction splints: I have not heard of this before. I do hope that when you do say 'management' in regards to this subject you are refering to 'medical director' or the physician who is responsible for oversight of your EMT/OEC operations. This should be purely a medical decision.
post #4 of 17
I am in favour in restricting the use of snowmobiles on ski trails. A lot of skiers are not very snowmobiles aware. Snowmobiles seem to be a magnet for out of control beginners. We have fitted flashing lights on our sleds to increase visibility and the driver has to wear a fluoresent safety vest.

I think some patrollers are lazy. They just jump on a sled with out thinking about whether given the skier density if it is the safest method to get around. Snowmobile use at the resort I work at is restricted. We used to be able to return the toboggans to the top of the hill but now have to up load them up the lifts. If we are making snow during the day even the snowmakers are asked to reduce their use of snowmobiles on the runs. They usually catch the lift up and ski or ride to the snow guns.
post #5 of 17
Why are you "snowmobiling" toboggans to the top of the hill?

As for the hill at which I patrol, I don't remember a time where I saw a snowmobile at the top or, even much past, the lift stations. Not clear if it's a liability issue or if it's just SOP.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Why are you "snowmobiling" toboggans to the top of the hill?
It is the easiest way to get empty toboggans back to their positions after using them for a rescue.
post #7 of 17
Reducing and limiting snowmobile use is a big deal these days. Mainly for the reasons cited above. Whether someone hits you while you are on a bile or you hit them, it is a loss for the company. Period.

Our area has gone with a training and certification program for all snowmobile drivers, orange vests, warning flags, you name it. The primary question we are supposed to ask ourselves before using the bile is "can I do this job without the snowmobile"?

90% of the time, the answer is yes.
post #8 of 17
Getting a victim down a hill without a snowmobile is not a problem. However, getting a victim up a mountain down a slope and then up another mountain before you can get them to a patrol shack or transport is a whole lot easier with a snowmobile. Say you have an injury on Tucker Mountain in Copper's back bowls. Have fun without a snowmobile.

We had use of four snowmobiles and if we needed more there were three or four that mountain crew and snowmaking had. I think the risk involved in their use is well worth it.
post #9 of 17
Never out of the base area.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by bunion View Post
Our area has gone with a training and certification program for all snowmobile drivers, orange vests, warning flags, you name it. The primary question we are supposed to ask ourselves before using the bile is "can I do this job without the snowmobile"?
90% of the time, the answer is yes.
Our snowmobile is limited in that only full-timers who are certified are allowed to use them and they are only allowed on the lower half of the mountain. The snowmobile does play a big part in our operation though, since almost all our rescues from the beginner hill are done with the snowmo. Our beginner hill is totally separate from the main hill and getting sled over to first aid in the base lodge would be a major schlepp. A full-timer is stationed on the sno-mo at the beginner hill all day, and all he does is pluck injured people off the hill. More serious injuries are backed from the top of the beginner area, where we have a patroller stationed.

Quote:
And interstingly enough there are also rumors circulating that we may be told by management to NOT apply traction (we use the Sagar) splints on midshaft femur fractures. That seems way out of line.
I haven't heard anything, and can't see why, unless patrollers are having problems identifying "mid-shaft".
post #11 of 17
I think just about anyone will agree theat when it comes to a bile assisted transport of a sled w/ injured patient, the choice of a bile is fine.

I see too many patrollers at areas I have worked (yep me too!) use a bile because it was the quick & easy way to get from here to there.

I have never had a collision with a guest, but they have scared the Sh!t out of me at times.
post #12 of 17
I think snowmobiles are a great tool when used properly. They should not be used to bring a patient down the hill if a toboggan is available. They should stay off narrow, winding trails or steep trails. They should only be used by experienced personnel. My preference is to go uphill on a wide easy slope so that you can be easily seen and avoided by the public. They work well for hauling equipment and getting around the mountain quickly, especially when short staffed. It would be a shame to lose the use of it. Much better to be extremely careful.
As for the traction splint - so many issues come into play (weather, time, location, extent of injury, or other injuries); that it's hard to state what is right in all occasions. I know if I were told not to use one then that would be the end of it. I certainly would speak my opinion but people with much more at stake are making the call.
post #13 of 17

Snowmobiles

About 10 years ago, I was a lone county park ranger on night x-c ski trail patrol when two teenagers on snowmobiles came the bend on a wooded ski trail and literally almost killed me, and sped off into the night. (We did follow the tracks and they were cited then next morning.)

Today I am a state park ranger and the director of a busy ski (and mountain bike) patrol group, but the problems remain the same. We have major problems keeping some snowmobilers off non-motorized trails, as soon as the snow falls. Despite signage, ski patrollers, rangers, sheriff and conservation officers, as well as an excellent working relationship with our local snowmobile clubs, some riders think snow on the ground is a license to go wherever they want, at whatever speed they want. For the most part, things have improved, but it only takes one to spoil the good work of a whole club.

We have to use a snowmobile for trail grooming, and we could use it for rescue if we absolutely had to. We are looking for a small SnoCat to use instead.
post #14 of 17
I just want to add that ticket paying customers do not like hearing or smelling snowmobiles. They are there to ski, ride, and enjoy the outdoors. Give them a break.

You may want to purchase one of these to get your sleds up to the top. Yes its easier to get the toboggans up to the top of the hill with snowmobile in many cases. Toboggans on a chair lift is not that hard. Besides spending days in a court room talking to lawyers when a skier/rider slides into your stopped snowmobile is not that easy either.

post #15 of 17
Other people on my patrol have been saying that someday we might not be able to use the snowmobile. Snowmobiles are all over where I ski (also a midwestern ski area w/3 lifts), not just for ski patrol, but for management/maintnence. And the occasional ATV.
post #16 of 17
Bumping this thread in light of the "ultimate tragedy" thread.
post #17 of 17
I am not a patrol for VRI, but I believe VRI resorts use quad lifts to retransport toboggans and most of their patrollers, but they use snowmobiles extensively too, especially for transport in back areas of mountains such as situations that Lars was speaking of (seeing as how they are all right next to Copper).

TRACTION SPLINTS

WHO IS YOUR MEDICAL DIRECTOR? Patrollers applying traction splints do so under the authority of the MD who is your medical direction. He will either be your strongest advocate or your worst enemy on the subject. If he wants to take that skill away from you, it is because he doesn't trust your skills and abilities. You all must convince him otherwise. If he believes that you are competent, it is likely that this intervention will remain in place to benefit the patients.
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