The Ski Patrol at HoliMont does an excellent job of keeping people on the slopes as protected as possible. During normal business hours, we can count on our Ski Patrol to administer first aid to our members and guests, as well as our HoliMont employees. And when the unfortunate injury does occur, the patrol is always quick to jump into action and get the injured person the medical attention that they need.
But what if an injury happens to a ski area employee after hours and up on the slopes?
It’s a scenario that could easily happen. Nighttime groomers and snowmakers can find themselves in risky situations from time to time and, even though the staff at HoliMont is very well trained, unfortunately, sometimes accidents happen. Should something unlucky happen, what course of action is taken to get medical attention to the injured person? That’s where the Ellicottville Volunteer Fire Department comes into the equation.
Early in the morning on Sunday, March 16, the Ellicottville Volunteer Fire Department came to HoliMont to conduct a rather unique training session for its crew. To do this specialized drill, they brought some heavy-duty equipment along with them.
You see, given the fact that there are two ski areas in Ellicottville that might need the assistance of the fire department, as well as a fair number of roads, which depending on the weather, might not be accessible via an ambulance, the fire department has some specialized vehicles that can be brought out when the situation calls for it.
HoliMont Safety Manager Justin Latimer staged a scenario where an employee had a snowmobile accident about three-fourths of the way up Sunset.
“We wanted to see in real time how the Ellicottville Fire Department could help an injured person on our slopes without the aid of our Ski Patrol,” stated Latimer. “Injured employees after hours, in particular second and third shift snowmakers, have been a hot topic and a concern with our Ski Areas of New York. We have been fine-tuning our Emergency Action Plan, which looks great on paper, but we really wanted to see it unfold before our own eyes. When I initially met with the EVL Fire Department, I was a little leery when they assured me they could get anywhere on our slopes in the event of an accident. Last Sunday morning I was amazed at the response and support of our fire department.”
With the fire department on hand, the volunteers made their way up the slope in two specialized vehicles. The first was a John Deere UTV with snowmobile-like tracks that made it very easy to climb up ski slopes. In no time at all, the UTV was conveying its occupants up the slope as easily as a car would drive on a dry road.
The second vehicle was a modified Hummer H1. The H1 makes an ideal “rescue” vehicle for this area. With its power and climbing ability, the H1 can make it to locations that an ambulance cannot. And with the additions that the fire department has made to both the H1 and the John Deere, there is space to put an injured person in a stretcher and get them to a more ambulance-friendly location.
Latimer went on to say, “I sat in the back seat of the EVL Humvee during the simulation and as it crept up Sunset slope. I was reassured with confidence that we are in good hands. We are very lucky as a community to have such a dedicated group of volunteers.”
To see video of the H1’s trip up Sunset, go to www.youtube.com/user/holimontskiarea.