Skiers and snowboarders enjoying this year’s bumper ski season have been urged to take care on the slopes.
Ambulance Victoria paramedics want those enjoying the state’s winter wonderlands to do so safely, with 485 people treated and transported from Mt Buller, Mt Hotham, Mt Buffalo and Falls Creek during last year’s snow season between 1 June and 31 October 2015.
Cases paramedics have attended this ski season to date include:
A man who slipped on black ice and injured his pelvis after walking through an asphalt carpark in ski boots
A teenage boy who struck a tree at high-speed while snowboarding
A young boy who was standing stationary on his skis when he was struck by an out-of-control skier
A young girl who was collected by an adult skier at speed; fracturing her arm
A girl who was tobogganing and struck a fence with her leg outstretched; leaving her with a fractured ankle
Ambulance Victoria Group Manager Central Hume Ian Hunt said during an average snow season, one mountain alone in the ski fields could host around 30 lower leg fractures and four fractured femurs.
‘We’ve had quite a few fractures and quite a few people with suspected spinal injuries already this season,’ Mr Hunt said.
‘The fundamental rules when venturing to the snow are to make sure you’re prepared. The snow fields can change in a matter of minutes; one minute it can be a sunny day, the next you’re in a blizzard.
‘Make sure you dress appropriately, don’t drive up the mountain without carrying chains for your vehicle, check the weather conditions before you leave and remember that alcohol affects people more readily at higher altitudes, so understand that you will tolerate less.’
Mr Hunt reiterated that planning for a snow trip started at home and road ambulance transport from the Victorian snow fields costs more than $1,700 if you were not an Ambulance Victoria member.
‘People come up to the snow fields and pay the entry price to get in, but what many don’t realise is how expensive their snow trip might end up being if you need paramedics and transport and don’t have an Ambulance Victoria membership,’ he said.
`You also need to make sure that if you are relying on private health cover that it will not cover you for air ambulance and subsequent transfers by ambulance. The best answer is to have Ambulance Victoria membership.’
An Air Ambulance helicopter transfer costs more than $10,000 if you are not an Ambulance Victoria member.
Mr Hunt encouraged skiers and snowboarders to:
Carry tyre chains;
Allow for increased travel times;
Share the driving;
Have a fully-charged mobile phone;
Wear appropriate clothing, including helmets and, for snowboarders, wrist guards.
Ambulance Victoria membership is $44.90 for singles per year and $89.80 for families per year.