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.