my Mountain News

Saving Lives At Silver Star

Tue, 29/12/2009 - 12:00 am

Two separate successful resuscitations of cardiac arrests in a two-hour span at Silver Star reaffirmed the mountain's reputation as being one of the safest resorts in Canada.
Silver Star Patrol, working in tandem with the Silver Star Fire Department and Volunteer Ski Doctor Kira McClellan, recently responded to a call at a resort hotel where a patron was feeling light headed and experiencing shortness of breath. When patrol arrived, the patron went into cardiac arrest.
"When a situation like this occurs, our response time is critical," says Jeremy Griffiths, patrol and safety manager for Silver Star Mountain Resort. "You can have all the equipment in the world, but getting to a patient in time is a key factor."
Griffiths is in his first full year as the resorts head of patrol. He brings with him more than 26 years experience as a paramedic, including eight years working on England's helicopter crew, attending major accident scenes. Griffiths, who is now a licensed Advanced Care Paramedic in B.C, decided with his wife Tracy to change their lifestyle and move to Silver Star. The decision has worked out well for both parties.
"Jeremy is a low key guy who doesn't relish the spotlight," noted Brad Baker, operations manager at Silver Star. "But it is exactly these types of situations that make him so invaluable to the resort. With Jeremy’s wealth of knowledge and experience we have been able to advance the skills and training level of our patrol team and it obviously is paying off. To save two lives in two hours is phenomenal. We are extremely proud of them."
A mere two hours later, a 911 call came through the Silver Star Fire Department — this time from the Creekside condos. Patrol, along with the fire department, were on the scene in about five minutes. The two teams immediately started CPR and prepared one of the mountain's two automated external defibrillators. The team delivered one shock to the patient and continued CPR. A second shock was eventually administered, which successfully brought him back into a sustainable cardiac rhythm.
"We wanted to make sure that we had the right equipment for any situation at hand," commented Griffiths.
He said Silver Star has added a new cardiac monitor, non-evasive blood pressure monitor, and an oxygen level monitor. Griffiths says while new equipment helps, another key factor has been new training techniques for the patrol team. He said they intensified team members training sessions in order to ensure everyone is prepared and calm when a situation arises. In addition, the resort worked with the Canadian Ski Patrol System to implement their extended protocols, a series of advanced training procedures beyond normal first-aid training.
"Patrol responded exactly as we've worked on before the season started. A few members said to me it felt exactly like a training session, which is exactly what we aim for. If we remain calm, it alleviates a lot of the tension for everyone else involved. I am fortunate to be part of such a great team here."
Griffiths said he also has high praise for the Silver Star Fire Department, all of the resort's volunteer on-mountain physicians and the B.C. Ambulance Service, who they work closely with throughout the season. All were on scene to assist patrol and Griffiths said they have a great working relationship.
"Everyone is on the same page and understands their roles. We're fortunate to have such excellent teams in place."