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Emergency Service Assistance for Injuries on Alpine Ski Slopes: A Cross-Sectional Study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 October 2022

Moritz Wagner*
Affiliation:
Orthopedics and Traumatology BKH St. Johann in Tirol, Bahnhofstrasse 14, 6380 St. Johann in Tirol, Austria
Simon Pfurtscheller
Affiliation:
Innsbruck Medical University, Anichstrasse 42, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Dietmar Dammerer
Affiliation:
Dr.-Karl-Dorrek-Straße 30, 3500 Krems an der Donau, Austria
Paul Nardelli
Affiliation:
Clinic for Trauma Surgery, Anichstrasse 42, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Gerhard Kaufmann
Affiliation:
OFZ Innsbruck, Innrain 2, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Alexander Brunner
Affiliation:
Orthopedics and Traumatology BKH St. Johann in Tirol, Bahnhofstrasse 14, 6380 St. Johann in Tirol, Austria
*
Correspondence: Moritz Wagner, MD, BKH St. Johann, Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, Bahnhofstrasse 14, 6380 St. Johann in Tirol, Austria, E-mail: moritz.wagner@gmail.com

Abstract

Objectives:

Injuries on alpine ski slopes have been described in cohorts of a reasonable sample size, but constant improvements in safety gear, increased use of airborne rescue, and safety measures during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic mandate re-evaluation. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate skiing and snowboarding injuries, effectiveness of airborne rescue, and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a large sample size.

Methods:

Data on alpine injuries were prospectively collected from the state emergency services dispatch center in the state of Tyrol (Austria). A total of 10,143 patients were identified, with an average age of 33.5 years (SD = 20.36). The ski patrol was involved in 8,606 cases (84.9%) and some patients (n = 1,536; 15.1%) required helicopter rescue.

Results:

A total of 10,143 patients were identified from the dataset of the emergency dispatch center. The most frequently injured region was the knee (30.2%), and it was followed by the shoulder (12.9%), the lower leg (9.5%), and the head/skull (9.5%).

Conclusion:

The present findings indicate that the most frequent site of injuries on alpine slopes is the knee, and life-threatening injuries are rare. Airborne rescue is very time-effective, however clinical studies with patient follow-up should be emphasized to determine the impact of airborne rescue on patient outcome. The present findings indicate that the duration of all rescue operations has been prolonged as a result of the introduction of safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Type
Original Research
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine

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