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Woodbury Ski Area: Living Hell on Earth

Imagine a horror movie; a place where the “guests” must render first aid to each other.

In my opinion, Woodbury Ski Area in Woodbury, Connecticut is nothing more than a deathtrap – a deathtrap that lures families with innocent young children in, provides them with every opportunity to injure themselves, but lacks any kind of safety personnel.  Perhaps there should be a sign as you first enter the premises that reads:

“Ski, Snowboard and Snow Tube at your own risk.  Be prepared for extremely dangerous conditions, poorly maintained equipment and hopefully you are medically trained because you will need to render first aid to others as necessary.”

My experience yesterday at Woodbury Ski Area was not unlike many others who have gone there for a fun, family day only to leave shaken, horrified and angry that such a place has not been shut down.  Perhaps had I spoken with the police prior to my visit and known about the numerous lawsuits pending against the owner, Rod Taylor, or about the patron whose fleshed was ripped off his face, the child who was in intensive care following a crash, the little girl who sledded through a fence and into the parking lot, or the other child who flipped over a snow bank and landed in the river, the “medical student” employee who moved a skier with a neck and back injury off the mountain without properly collaring and boarding her which could have resulted in paralysis, I wouldn’t have been surprised by my own experience (although I wouldn’t have gone had I known).

Picture this….a magic carpet overcrowded with children just learning to ski and first time snow tubers without any personnel positioned at the bottom or the top of the carpet to assist or push the emergency stop.  Imagine a scene where patrons must scream to each other to press the emergency stop button, help each other up, and yell at snow tubers to move their tubes out of the way of skiers trying to get off.  Imagine pile ups, tangled skies, and chaos.  Picture a rope toe that operates without any safety personnel and children hanging on for dear life as their skies get crossed and they are dragged up the mountain. 

But never would I have imagined that I would be rendering first aid to another guest.  When I walked into the filthy “ski shop” I saw him sitting on the floor, sweaty, pale and holding a dirty bag filled with snow on his wrist.  The first thing I noticed was that there wasn’t a single employee trying to help him, nor was there a medically trained employee assessing his condition.  As a recently trained EMT, I watched in disbelief.  It became apparently very quickly that I was the only one who was willing and able to help this man.

I asked him if I could help him and he gratefully said yes, please.  He had slipped on some ice on the steps outside and tried to break his fall with his arm, creating what I believe was a compression fracture.  His arm was swelling rapidly so I immediately instructed him to remove his watch from his injured wrist, as it would soon prevent blood flow to his hand.   There was no first aid equipment available at all, so in order to immobilize his arm I resorted to using an old card board box top that I ripped off a box in some back room and fashioned a crude splint.  I secured the “splint” with scotch tape and tied plastic bags together to form a sling.  He headed to Waterbury Hospital for x-rays.

Now, luckily this situation involved a seemingly healthy man in his mid-thirties.  What if this had been a child with a head injury or open femur fracture?  Irreversible shock due to brain swelling and bleeding out would have taken their life before an ambulance could have arrived, as the ETA is about 20 minutes.  What about a cardiac arrest?  Imagine everyone standing around watching someone die…..that is the scenario that will eventually unfold at Woodbury Ski Area.

State Legislatures and Woodbury Town Officials, please created a law that regulated these types of places, that requires the owner to be insured, that requires an adequate number of properly trained employees, that require hazards such a large, rusty metal garbage bins to be removed from the end of the sledding hill or requires a safety rail around the large wood burning stove in the middle of the “lodge” to prevent yet another child from being burned. 

To know that this place exists and continues to stay open without oversight is the equivalent of sitting by and watching someone die and doing nothing about it.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Elena Bowen February 20, 2013 at 01:44 PM
I feel bad. I want it to succeed. I want Woodbury to have a place to be proud of. There have been way to many horror stories. Something needs to change. I bought over $200.00 in tubing gc for family. That money will be a waste. I do not feel its safe for me to take my nieces & nephews there. Sad.
Cardiac Companion February 20, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Hi Elena - please contact town and state reps so a bill might be supported requiring a minimum set of safety regulations. Amusement parks have numerous safety regs they have to follow so why shouldn't a ski-sledding areas? Woodbury deserves to have a place to be proud of and the residents CAN make it happen!!
ctmom February 20, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Sean, I think that is precisely her POINT. That there are no laws governing safety at a place like this and she believes there should be. I agree with her 1000 percent. She is simply asking "town officials" to join the call for regulations. Do you have a problem with safer recreational facilities for our kids (and us!)? Why the defensive response?
Cardiac Companion February 20, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Hi Sean: I wish there were laws being broken because that would shut this place down immediately. I have filed a complaint with State of Connecticut Consumer Protection as well as the Woodbury Police. THEIR advice to me was to seek help from government officials (ie: State Representatives) to support a bill that would regulate these places or at the minimum have it be required that the premises are safe, crowds are monitored by an adequate number of trained personnel and that medical personnel and medical equipment be immediately available at all times. The PDFs I have attached show the numerous lawsuits already filed against the ski area and owner.
Cardiac Companion February 21, 2013 at 05:35 AM
Hi Sean: Yes, please do bring it up at the meeting and please encourage any others who are on boards to do the same - this should be looked at from all angles. Is the property truly zoned for these activities? It seem rather disturbing that kids can sled right into a river or parking lot. Also, I think he put in a zip line and wanted to put one in - another recipe for disaster without adequate safety measures and trained personnel.
joe_m February 21, 2013 at 10:42 PM
Good intentions, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". Better, don't go there. Tell everyone you know and let them make their own decisions as to whether they want to make use of Woodbury Ski. It is their money and their decision. If enough people stop going there, Woodbury Ski will go out of business. That solves the issue. If enough people don't care or just want to ski or tube, they will continue to go. There are many things many people don't like and they want a "law". The result is a nanny state that tries to control all our lives. Me, I just want to pursue happiness without government interference. My happiness, not yours.
Cardiac Companion February 22, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Hi Joe - Unfortunatelty your proposal does not solve the problem since Woodbury preys on lower income families from New York City and New Jersery through Groupon deals and advertisement of bus services. My understanding from the authorities is that most people who go are first time customers and never return. However, there is an endless supply of first time, uninformed people out there who take advantage of a deal.
joe_m February 22, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Let the buyer beware. You can't legislate human behavior. Let them do their own homework. Why do we always think we have to protect someone else from their own shortsightedness? Yes, you do have good intentions, that admirable. But do we really need another law?
joe_m February 22, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Connecticut General Statutes Section 29-212(b) provides as follows: Each skier shall assume the risk of and legal responsibility for any injury to his or her person or property caused by the hazards inherent in the sport of skiing. Such hazards include, but are not limited to: (1) Variations in the terrain of the trail or slope which is marked in accordance with subdivision (3) of section 29-211 or variations in surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions, except that no skier assumes the risk of variations which are caused by the ski area operator unless such variations are caused by snow making, snow grooming or rescue operations; (2) bare spots which do not require the closing of the trail or slope; (3) conspicuously placed or, if not so placed, conspicuously marked lift towers; (4) trees or other objects not within the confines of the trail or slope; (5) loading, unloading or otherwise using a passenger tramway without prior knowledge of proper loading and unloading procedures or without reading instructions concerning loading and unloading posted at the base of such passenger tramway or without asking for such instructions; and (6) collisions with any other person by any skier while skiing, except that collisions with on-duty employees of the ski area operator who are skiing and are within the scope of their employment at the time of the collision shall not be a hazard inherent in the sport of skiing.

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