Edelweiss skiers recognized for rescuing friend
Trio act like ‘seasoned veteran patrollers’ helping hurt friend
We could all use friends like Kai O’Toole’s.
His three friends were honoured by Sommet Edelweiss ski patrollers on Jan. 29 for helping rescue him.
On Jan. 13 Kai, 11, and his friends – Callum Foley, 12; Jonas Wynen, 15; and Cole Williams, 11 – were skiing laps through the terrain park of their home hill, Sommet Edelweiss. Kai went for a grind on an A-frame box near the base of the park, but fell off it and broke his forearm. Both his arm bones were broken, a bone was poking through the skin, and his arm was bent in an unnatural 90-degree angle.
Cole was the first to notice that Kai was hurt, so he went down to tell Jonas and Callum who were waiting at the bottom of the chairlift.
“We didn’t believe him,” Jonas said, adding that he and Callum thought Cole was joking when he said that Kai broke his arm.
Cole and Callum ran to the ski patrol clinic at the bottom of the hill to notify workers, while Jonas unclipped from his skis and ran up the hill to Kai’s side.
“I was worried about his head,” Jonas said.
Luckily Kai was wearing a helmet and didn’t get a head injury.
Cole and Callum ran up the slope to their friend’s side as soon as ski patrollers knew where the crash happened.
“He was more mad about not being able to ski than his arm being broken,” Callum said about Kai’s immediate reaction to his injuries.
“You could see his bone,” Cole said.
The three stayed at Kai’s side, making sure no other skiers or boarders ran into their friend until the ski patrol arrived.
The first patroller on scene was Chris Holden. He said that Kai kept a level head and even downplayed the injury a bit.
“Kai was brave about it. He said, ‘I don’t think my arm is right,’” Holden said.
Kai’s friends took different roles helping Holden and the second patroller to arrive – Ian Izzard – treat him. One stood above the terrain feature to make sure no other riders ran into Kai; another held onto the toboggan and gave Holden first-aid supplies when he requested them; and another stayed with Kai to reassure him.
“They showed a maturity beyond their age,” Holden said.
“I’ve never seen friends jump in and support like that during an incident,” Izzard, who has 30 years of patrolling under his belt, added. “They handled themselves as well as seasoned, veteran patrollers.”
Holden and Izzard said that, thanks to Callum, Cole, and Jonas, they were able to get Kai’s arm into a splint and Kai into the toboggan to be brought down to the bottom of the hill.
His mom Lisa Utronki, a resident of Edelweiss, was waiting to load Kai into her car to take him to the CHEO in Ottawa.
Holden and Izzard presented Callum, Cole, and Jonas with certificates for their help and ski patrol water bottles on Jan. 29 outside their ski patrol office.
“When you guys turn 18, there’s spots on the ski patrol for you,” Holden said.
Stay safe on ski hills
Skiing and snowboarding are inherently dangerous sports — that’s part of the appeal for some: weaving through tight trees, bombing down steep hills, hucking off cliffs, or catching air in the terrain park.
But there’s a way to enjoy these sports safely. Edelweiss ski patrollers Chris Holden and Ian Izzard shared their safety tips with the Low Down:
Wear a helmet. Head injuries are serious and can be avoided by wearing the right helmet; Helmets have been mandatory for terrain parks since 2007.
Know the hill. Take a moment before riding to look at maps of the ski area, which are usually at the bottom and top of most ski hills. Runs are graded by difficulty from green circles – easy – to blue squares – difficult – and black diamonds – very difficult. Some ski areas even have double black diamond runs for experts only. Knowing the way down the hill can keep people from getting overwhelmed on a run that’s too difficult;
Know your limits. This isn’t the X-Games, take it easy;
Ski with a buddy, that way if one person gets hurt, the other can seek aid;
When someone is injured, get them help. The phone number for the ski patrol office is located on the office’s door. Other patrol clinics do the same at other ski areas, so take a moment before riding to write the number down. If the number is unknown, memorize where the injured person is on the hill — the name of the run and how far down they are on it. Besides calling the patrol directly, the best way to notify them is through another employee. Most employees and staff have radios that they can use to reach ski patrol. Relay the location and extent of the injury to ski patrol then attempt to return to the injured person’s side.