Why You Should Learn CPR (and Wear a Helmet)

As a babysitter, parents often times require that you have taken first aid and/or CPR classes. As a manager at the high school cross country team, the first aid bit comes in handy too. However, I never would dream that I would have to use CPR.

In fact, there is a very low percentage of people who have to use CPR, although they took classes for it. Nevertheless, this is what happened:

During the winter of 2015, my friend and I began to start our second year of snowboarding. It was her first day and my third. We were out on a cat track to some black diamond runs, gliding far beneath the thick fog and clouds. I had my board freshly waxed, so there was a bit of a time gap between us.

As I pulled up on the ridge to wait, I could no longer see her. I debated on hiking up but she appeared over the edge. Given that if you are slow or hesitant on that track, you will be forced to push yourself and that was what she did, I assumed that was what happened .

She sat down next to me and was breathing strangely. A skier passed in a puffy jacket with a guest pass attached. It was around that time that she spoke.

“My arm really hurts.”

“Ok, well can you move it?”

She tried to lift it and could not. She got a small twitch in her thumb, but that was about it. Nothing more, and nothing less.

“My stomach really hurts too.”

At this point, I am realizing that frankly, arms and stomachs are not really attached. I asked what happened, realizing that she was not stuck.

“A skier hit me right here, ” she forced out of her lungs while gesturing to her central back, “I rolled, and it really hurts.”

“Your legs seem alright, can you make it down and out the track to the lodge?”

“Definitely not.”

By now, I am out of my boots and walking up the hill a bit. These two elderly ladies who looked like they were going to make me some gingersnap cookies answered my yells but couldn’t figure out how to work their phones to get the patrol. An instructor with two young children was on their way however and she made the call.

It had been less than two minutes when I went back to her. I checked for pulse, breathing, everything. No movement, no response, and her face was purple.

I immediately began CPR.

She jumped and made an animal like noise as soon as the air made it back into her lungs after the first few rounds. She began to mumble, but I couldn’t make anything out. I ripped off my coat and first layers and she lay there in the snow, waiting for the patrol. They came with their sled and oxygen mask. Taking her by skis the steeper part, then by snowmobile the second area, we made it down to the lodge. They took her by ambulance to the hospital and I had to file a report. It was a hit and run.

Later that day, I arrive at the hospital. She suffered some memory loss, a ruptured spleen, a sever concussion, whiplash, and a broken rib. If she was not wearing a helmet, or with someone who knew CPR, she would have died.

It took around thirteen times to get an IV, multiple X-Rays, other scans, and intensive care, but she was released on Christmas Day and remains alive and well to this day.

I am so grateful that things went well that day, I don’t know where I would be without her. Huge thanks to the ski patrol and emergency teams for keeping us safe!

Oh and PS. Wear a helmet.

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