During the last week in January, five of us from Seattle were at Silver Star for our annual ski week with our friends from Vernon. The snow had been wonderful and the weather perfect.
On that Wednesday, on my last run before lunch, I was struck by another skier. The contact threw me into the air and I landed on my left shoulder and side.
My friend and the skier who clipped me came to check if I was all right. I thought that I just had the wind knocked out of me so I told them to go on skiing.
When I got up, my ribs moved so I told my friend that I was going to the first aid station to get checked out.
He followed me as I slowly skied down the hill. Once there, I told them that I was on a blood thinner and thought that I might have broken my ribs.
I received immediate attention from the woman up front, one of the patrolmen and other members of the ski patrol.
They took my blood pressure and got all of the information, recognizing that my injuries were more serious than I had thought and wanted to get an ambulance to take me to the hospital.
I resisted, thinking that my friend could take me to the hospital. They continued to watch my vital signs and, once again, recommended an ambulance. Even though they had other accident victims coming in, they gave me undivided attention. I was impressed with their professional skill and how caring they were. Tracy (Griffiths), of the ski patrol, wrote me later that she had a strong sense that my injuries were very serious.
When my blood pressure continued to plummet, they ordered an ambulance and gave me an IV. As I reflect on this experience, I am impressed with the competence of everyone who took care of me knowing what had to be done to save my life.
The ambulance trip to Vernon Jubilee Hospital wasted no time.
Even during the ride down to Vernon, Steve Darby, a B.C. Ambulance medic, monitored my vital signs and spoke by telephone with the hospital in order to prepare for my arrival there.
At VJH, the trauma unit met the ambulance and immediately swung into action. It was quickly determined that I was bleeding internally from a ruptured spleen and had four broken ribs.
The doctors and nurses stabilized my blood and Dr. John Crowley removed the pieces of my spleen and the blood from my abdomen.
Again, the care that I received was exceptional. As a sidebar, I had a friend on blood thinners who had bled to death on an operating table in North Carolina, so I realized the risk.
Vernon is very fortunate, as am I, to have both excellent emergency care by the ski patrol on the mountain who are well trained and dedicated, as well as an outstanding, professional hospital staff that gives the highest quality of care with exceptional compassion.
God bless them all for how generously they give of themselves in supplying exceptional care to others.
Rev. Dr. Victor Hippe