New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Risk Management

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Roy Horn, 59, is in critical condition after suffering a severe neck injury from being mauled by one of his tigers during a regularly scheduled show in Las Vegas Friday night. The Siegfried & Roy Show has been cancelled indefinitely.

Roy never had a scratch in a performance with big cats in 35 years.

I've long believed that technical skill is necessary for risk management in skiing. I also have long thought it was sufficient. Even though skiing may be a far cry on the danger scale from working day in and day out with big cats, it is on the danger scale, and something along the lines of what happened to Roy Horn could happen to any of us. This has made me rethink the idea that technical skill is sufficient risk management in skiing.

Specificially, I'm wondering what the risk of catastrophic injury is to expert skiers who do not wear helmets. In other words, what is the statistical benefit of wearing a helmet to an expert skier? Does anyone know of any research in this area? Conversely, does anyone know of any study that has been done to measure the benefits of technical proficiency on risk management?

Sometimes we take precautions when the benefit of doing so is extremely small. For instance, if I have a .015% chance of getting mauled by a bear in my neighborhood, I would not arm myself with a rifle or even pepper spray to take a walk up the creek. To do so would indulge a fearfulness that would not exactly enhance the experience.

[ October 06, 2003, 08:18 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #2 of 26
You can read the American Medical Association report on helmets for skiing at the AMA site. From what I read of the summary, they concluded that the risk of head injury was too small to require the mandatory use of helmets, even for children, and that more study was required to determine the effectiveness of helmets in preventing skiing injuries.

The University of Virginia concluded the opposite, that chlidren and those over 65 should wear helmets. You can read that here.

One theory I've heard is that skiing head injuries are mostly concussions, not fractures as are motorcycle injuries. Helmets may not be as effective in preventing concussions as they are in preventing fractures.

For myself, I've decided not to wear a helmet, at least partly because I think the perceived safety of a helmet encourages more risky behavior.

Regards, John
post #3 of 26
A helmet may still stop you from cracking the back of your head on an icy run if you take a spill or hitting a tree dead on while sliding head first.

I know a few people who were knocked unconscious from behind and slid head first and they all had helmets on that stopped them from hitting a tree or drain pipe head on.

It's worth it as far as I'm concerned.

[ October 06, 2003, 09:14 AM: Message edited by: Scalce ]
post #4 of 26
I know one instructor who would be dead if it weren't for a helmet. One who tangled skis with another instructor skiing in a tight group went down and rang his bell really hard (two day headache) on the snow surface with a helmet. Got spun around and slammed down hard enough to see stars and had my friends gather up my equipment for me, don't know what happened to cause the fall it was on a blue groomer and untill I hit the ground I was feeling great about my skiing. I've seen several unconcious skiers on the slopes. I,ve been ran into several times. Skiers and boarders come way to close for comfort all the time. Lost an instructor to brain damage last season, don't know if a helmet would have helped in his situation but it wouldn't have hurt.

Don't know about statistics but "SHIT HAPPENS!!!!!". There are lots of things out there harder than my head (though some say nothing is harder) so I'm going to take what precautions I can.

My technical expertise goes a long way in protecting me but, I can't controll others, and unexpected conditions do occor

Yd
post #5 of 26
I'm with Ydnar on the shit happens thing, specially when it comes to other people. I watched a good friend get broadsided on an icy slope by an out of control idiot. The impact knocked her completely off her feet and she landed on the back of her head on the ice. She was wearing a helmet at the time and still suffered a concussion. I can't say for certain what would have happend if she had not been wearing it but I think it is safe to say she wouldn't have skied away from the accident.

I have worn one for the past two seasons, and even though it has not "saved my life", it has made some of my falls alot less painful, and most importantly it has saved my cranium from the chairlift safety bars on all european lifts.

To me it is an easy decision, if wearing a helmet saves me from even one concussion over my lifetime, it is worth it. Besides, I find it comfortable and convienent (I have not had to clean snow out of my goggles even on my worst falls).

Chet
post #6 of 26
To me, risk management has to do with far more than technical skill. While skill is important, so to is behavior (skiing speed, terrain preference, etc.) equipment (properly fitted, adjusted and tuned gear, helmets, etc.) and preparation (strength, aerobic conditioning and flexibility).

Doesn't neglect in any of these areas raise the risks involved in skiing?
post #7 of 26
To me a helmet is superior to wearing a hat on most days. My helemt adjusts ventilation options so it covers a wide range of temperatures and is dry when it snows or rains. The helmet is better at pushing tree branches out of the way when skiing the glades.

Does the helmet help me manage the risk of skiing? Perhaps, but it does the above better than a hat so I wear it.

Eight years ago, I did get a foot rest in the back of the head when a stoner lift attendant swung the wrong part of the chair while I was getting on it. I have had a couple of thousand lift rides and never had this happen but got a few stiches out of the deal. The liftie never even stopped the lift.
post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
To me, risk management has to do with far more than technical skill. While skill is important, so to is behavior (skiing speed, terrain preference, etc.) equipment (properly fitted, adjusted and tuned gear, helmets, etc.) and preparation (strength, aerobic conditioning and flexibility).

Doesn't neglect in any of these areas raise the risks involved in skiing?
I agree! I suspect that we may be a bit over-sold on the lifesaving aspects of the brain bucket, when it may be but one of many contributions to greater personal safety on the slopes.
post #9 of 26
Aside from the first reply, that there is no evidence that they result in fewer injuries, I prefer soft head gear to a helmet for most rec skiing cuz I can take it off easier, store it in outerwear, layer it, switch to a cap. Might think about one for certain terrain (trees, rocks, race), but not in general.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
Specificially, I'm wondering what the risk of catastrophic injury is to expert skiers who do not wear helmets. In other words, what is the statistical benefit of wearing a helmet to an expert skier? Does anyone know of any research in this area? Conversely, does anyone know of any study that has been done to measure the benefits of technical proficiency on risk management?
This reminds me of a conversation I've had more than once with a party who will remain unnamed.

It has to do with smoking cigarettes, and how in the 50's and 60's it was just "the thing to do", because no one knew it was bad for you, there were no "studies".

My wife politely suggested that the ignorant party "study" the bottom of an ashtray, or the inside of a cigarette filter. Or "study" the sound of a smoker's hacking cough, or the color of what he's coughing up, etc. You get the idea.

There aren't many ways smoking can help you, but there are countless ways it can hurt you. Common sense, not studies, will tell you that.

Vice versa with the helmet issue. I can't really come up with any ways that it can hurt you. But it sure seems to've helped quite a few folks on this board alone.

As for someone else's comment that wearing a helmet would induce more risky behavior, I'm not buying it. This is a mentality. If you think donning a helmet renders you invincible, there are far more complicated issues you need to deal with.

I wear one, but it wasn't common sense that forced me to put it on, it was a concussion.

My .02
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by Xdog:
As for someone else's comment that wearing a helmet would induce more risky behavior, I'm not buying it. This is a mentality. If you think donning a helmet renders you invincible, there are far more complicated issues you need to deal with.
"Compensating behavior" is a documented side effect of safety measures. It's an important issue in traffic safety and even more important in team sports. From what I can tell, helmet studies generally conclude that the risk of head injury in skiing is pretty low, and I know of no studies that directly support the idea that helmets would actually reduce the severity of injuries that do occur, although common sense suggests that helmets should help at least a little.
If I start snowboarding frequently, I'll get a helmet for that. The risk of smacking your head into the ground when riding is just too high. But at least for now I prefer to ski without a helmet.

Regards, John
post #12 of 26
Our entire family wears helmets. Why ask questions later when you can have the benefit of the doubt by wearing a helmet now? Someone we knew had a tragic accident at Whistler a few years back when he fell and crack his skull open on a rock. He died from the injury leaving his wife and kids to face the consequences. An accident like that may never happen to me or you, but why gamble?

Just ask Sonny Bono if a helmet would have saved him when he ran smack into a tree. It may never happen to you but you never can know for sure.
post #13 of 26
59 years old. :
post #14 of 26
Last season we lost a friend due to an on hill collision which resulted in a fatal head trauma. He was wearing a helmet. Not one of the uncertified modified skateboard type, but a real racing helmet with full coverage. There are plenty of instances where skiers still died in accidents while they were wearing helmets.

I wear mine when I run gates or when it is very cold. Running gates it aids as an additional blocker so I can take a straighter line and not worry about goggle displacement and a knock on the head with a frozen piece of plastic. They are warmer than a knit hat.

If you want to wear a helmet, go ahead. Don't preach about it though. Since there is no industry standard, there is no conclussive evidence that the helmet you have will ensure that you will walk away from even a light impact. Mine is full carbon fibre with Kevlar reinforcement, and fits properly with full head coverage.
post #15 of 26
The NY Times ran a good article and follow up last year (1/9/03, 1/19/03) about helmets. The first is free on their site, but has little info, the second article can be purchased.

From what I remember, the effects John mentioned factored into it heavily - people feel safter and take more risks with a helmet on. Emergency rooms were seeing more people come in with helmets than one would expect.

If a helmet is not combined with maturity and skiing within your ability, it won't do much to help you. The combination of the two seems to be the best.

gk
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
I've long believed that technical skill is necessary for risk management in skiing...
Back to the idea of risk management through technical skill, I wonder how many skiers are aware of Carl Ettlinger's "Knee Friendly Skiing" program? It's easy to follow and proven to reduce knee injuries significantly.

Regards, John
post #17 of 26
RISK MANAGEMENT

I just don't think the helmet debate holds a substantial position in the potential problem area. Wearing one makes good common sense, just like wearing appropriate clothing for weather conditions makes good sense. That is the personal side of the equation, and most winter sports enthusiasts give thought to their own personal situation.

The part I am concerned with is what lifer brought up. I am particularly concerned with the marketing aspect of skiing in general. The 'thrill' sales pitch leaves every portion of the industy open for serious consequences. ..Stop and think about what kind of mayhem we would have if that type of sales pitch initiated people into our modern transport systems.

There are important corresponding points:

1. Potential for speed(and abuse thereof)
2. Situations requiring instant decisions
3. Lack of proper skills and training
4. Conditions unsafe to any participant
etc., etc.

i.e. - Transportation safety has addressed most of these risk factors and regulated them with the interest of ALL drivers, while snowsports turns a blind eye to the same general circumstances. Bantering over a helmet seems petty when you can go to many resorts and see 14 year olds doing blind 6 foot jumps into an active run.

Skiing, today, has a lot to do with luck,,,, and then there is skill!

Shouldn't it be the other way around for the average skier?

...Another $0.02 worth

[ October 07, 2003, 07:11 AM: Message edited by: feal ]
post #18 of 26
Nolo, does this sound familiar? Helmets are for those who have brains to protect. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

There have been too many times that I was glad I was wearing a helmet. The last time was at the Academy last year. We were on ski boards and at the end of our run, nearing the cafeteria, I got too far forward and, before I knew it, I did a face plant and bounced three times, face down. I was dazed and motionless for a few seconds until I was sure I was still ok. Now you may think that I lack proper skill and therefore my lack of experience caused the crash. I thought I was well within my skill level.

There have been many limb whacks in the trees, head bonks on lifts and close calls with others for me to doubt a helmet’s usefulness. It may not save my life in a real high speed impact but it might. It certainly has prevented a lot of nuisance injuries. My helmet is warm too.

As far as helmet use promoting risky behavior, well maybe if you're twenty something. I'll be 50 next year and I think I take proper precautions. I do push myself though. I started to wear a helmet after I upped my risk level by skiing glades and when I started my kids skiing.

A lot of helmets may not prevent concussions. It depends on the type of padding. An old motorcycle article I read years ago found that helmets with snell ratings were less able to protect from concussions. Snell tests a helmet's ability to prevent penetrations through the helmet. Other ratings are more general and if the helmet has less dense foam or a construction that absorbs impact, concussion will be less likely.

I like my helmet and wear it even on the easiest terrain.
post #19 of 26
The issue of helmet use promoting risky behavior may be key to some of the differences of opinion expressed here.

Specifically, a 15 y.o. boy may put on a helmet to "allow" him to take bigger risks (eg, in the park and pipe). However, when I put on mine, it doesn't change my risk-taking behavior one iota. I suspect that people like me feel that it increases one's protection (albeit modestly, on average), has other benefits (*), and has almost no drawbacks in any area including convenience. Thus, I use one.

If I had a risk-taking teen, I would speak to him seriously about increased risk taking behavior when using a helmet. If it was apparent that he continued to take significantly more and greater risks when wearing a helmet, I would likely prohibit both the undesired behavior and the helmet (with appropriate consequences).

If I was serving on a committee considering mandatory helmet use among a population of individuals, I would have to estimate the fraction of them in which it would increase risky behavior since I would have no access to them as individuals (as in the case of a family member). I would then do separate cost-benefit analyses (estimates) on both these individuals, as well as on individuals like myself.

An optimal policy on helmet use clearly depends on the population subject to that policy.

Tom / PM

(*) Side benefits: decreases messy "hat hair", keeps me warmer, and keeps me from getting so mad when someone bangs me on the head with the safety bar, etc.
post #20 of 26
I've been knocked out 3 times in the past 4 years while skiing, and last year I got my self a Giro 9 helmet and haven't been knocked out since. I've had at least two instances where I should have been knocked out, but all I had was a multi-day headache. I will stand by my helmet as a "ski-trip saver" since I think I would have been out for the rest of the trip. It's probably also a life saver, but I don't think I've ever needed itvfor that extreme of a purpose.

BoB
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by PhysicsMan:
The issue of helmet use promoting risky behavior may be key to some of the differences of opinion expressed here.

Specifically, a 15 y.o. boy may put on a helmet to "allow" him to take bigger risks (eg, in the park and pipe). However, when I put on mine, it doesn't change my risk-taking behavior one iota.
Sounds reasonable and I know many people who wear helmets who swear the same thing and sking with them it seems that the helmet does not induce risky behavior.

However these same skiers will on occassion lecture me that they would never go into the woods without a helmet and that I shouldn't either. While I don't think the woods are risky that the slopes they do. They also admitting that they will ski riskier terrain (the woods) when wearing a helmet. So I tend to agree that a helmet can encoutage risky behavior.
post #22 of 26
I think that the risk management aspect of helmet use creates two distinct possibilities. It allows some of us to reduce our overall risk while skiing (ok, maybe by a small margin) because we don't change where and how we ski. I put myself in this category. I bought a helmet after being whalloped from behind by another skier. (I was making symetrical linked turns on an uncrowded intermediate run) The 'accident' made me aware of my exposure to risks that are difficult to control--short of skiing with a rearview mirror. My skiing speed, choice of terrain, etc. has not changed since donning a helmet, so there is no way my risk has gone up.

Alternatively, some skiers may see a helmet as a way to counteract some of the risks associated with desired activity (skiing more trees, at a higher rate of speed, more time in the terrain park, etc.). If the insurance value of a helmet is overestimated by some in this later group, they will indeed face greater overall risk.

I think age may play a role in 'selecting' risk management groups.
post #23 of 26
This whole business sounds kinda risky, we should all take up table tennis. :

Of course, you'll need to wear a helmet and goggles for that too.
post #24 of 26
In my case, I think I do take more risks when wearing a helmet. In my case, this is a good thing! My attitude when skiing used to be much less than aggressive, wearing a helmet has allowed me to move it more into the ‘normal’ range!

I’m the same way on my mountain bike. When I forget my helmet I’m not nearly aggressive enough.
post #25 of 26
Thread Starter 
I do a fair amount of skiing in trees, steeps, and avalanche terrain. When I am skiing in risky situations, I feel awareness is my number one defense, technical proficiency is number two, making my own decisions number three, maintaining my equipment number four, strength and fitness number five, and wearing a helmet somewhere around number six.

It would seem that most feel the helmet is #1. I think that is a triumph of marketing that could stand a bit of scrutiny. I am not dissing helmets, just asking if we've been oversold on its protective powers.

[ October 07, 2003, 10:21 PM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #26 of 26
Nolo,

Your levels of risk management seem right on to me. The helmet is like my seatbelt/airbag in my car. If I stay on top of things and have a little luck I'll never need them but if I ever do need them I'm glad they're there. Same thing with my helmet.

Yd
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion