Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rescuers lauded after saving life on Baldy

Man survives cardiac arrest on ski mountain

Express Staff Writer

A Blaine County man who suffered cardiac arrest while skiing on Bald Mountain on Saturday was recovering at home Tuesday thanks to efforts of first responders, St. Luke's hospital staff and two fellow skiers who came to his aid.

The Sun Valley Ski Patrol responded to a call on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 10:18 a.m. that a skier had gone down on the 42nd Street run due to cardiac arrest.

Luckily for the victim, Jim Wood, 61, two fellow skiers from Twin Falls noticed his body lying motionless, Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle said.

The two skiers, Matthew and Dawna Alexander, recently completed cardiopulmonary resuscitation training and began performing CPR on Wood as the Sun Valley Ski Patrol arrived.

It was the beginning of a long chain of events that led to Wood's recovery, said Dr. Deb Robertson, who was on duty that day at the St. Luke's Wood River emergency room. "They started doing CPR right away."

The second vital aspect was the quick response of the Ski Patrol members and their ability to recognize and respond to cardiac arrest. Patrol members continued to provide care with a defibrillator and got Wood's heart beating again.

"The Ski Patrol all had their antennas up and got the automatic defibrillator down to him within seven minutes," Robertson said. "That's the second thing that increases survival."

Robertson said Wood's heart rhythm normalized while being treated on the mountain.

"It's an amazing effort between these bystanders and awesome training of the Ski Patrol," she said.


Ski Patrol members brought Wood to the bottom of River Run, where he was transported to St. Luke's Wood River via ambulance.

ER staff monitor the Ski Patrol radio so they can have advance notice of incoming patients.

"We were able to get Air St. Luke's involved even before he showed up at the ER," Robertson said.

A plan to transport Wood via Air St. Luke's fixed-wing plane from Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey was thwarted by bad weather. He was taken by Air St. Luke's ground ambulance to Shoshone, where a helicopter picked him up and took him to St. Luke's Magic Valley in Twin Falls.

Dozens of people from multiple organizations were involved from the time of Wood's cardiac arrest on Bald Mountain to his arrival and care in Twin Falls.

"I'm so proud of our local rescue community," Robertson said. "It shows that the immense amount of training they do pays off in these kinds of circumstances."

Elle and Robertson agree that CPR is an essential skill for people to acquire.

"This is proof that if you get CPR started early enough, that's what saves lives," Elle said. "It's important to learn CPR training. That's what saved him, early CPR."

Rebecca Meany:

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