Anyone Need A One-Armed Liftie?
No matter the age of your kid - mine’s 27 - this is the call no parent wants to get:
“There’s been a ski accident. Your son has been airlifted to a trauma center. Sorry, but that’s all we know.”
What followed late Tuesday afternoon was a blur of frantic calls to the University of Utah Hospital where at first they confirmed that he was still in the air and later reported that he’d landed and was in for CT scans and x-rays.
No information about his condition.
All I could think of during that agonizing hour - besides the fastest way to Utah - was serious head trauma. I’d just finished reading a stunning series - Alive Inside - by an old colleague, Mike Hixenbaugh, at The Houston Chronicle.
Please, God. Don’t let him have a catastrophic brain injury, I prayed. Or paralysis.
Finally, a hospital social worker rang.
“He’s conscious and talking,” she said. “He can’t remember what happened.”
Is it life threatening? I asked.
I grabbed a suitcase, tossed in an armful of winter clothes and headed to ORF. By 1:45 am EST I was shivering outside the Salt Lake City airport waiting for an Uber.
Once inside the trauma unit I found this guy.
“I’m so glad I’m off tomorrow,” mumbled the lift attendant who’d skied into a tree a few hours earlier. “I’ll be fine by Thursday.”
A concussion, fractured shoulder, slightly fractured vertebrae and broken arm may end this season’s dream of a job that lets you work the lifts five days a week and spend your free time skiing the breathtaking slopes of Utah’s mountains.
But who knows. Maybe there’s a market for one-armed lifties.
We do know he’s one tough dude. When my son was about 10 he rode his bike into the side of a moving pick-up truck, leaving a dent in the driver’s door and no damage to himself. If anyone could shake this off, it’s him.
Right now we’re waiting for a hospital release and learned from the trauma team that he may have been the first casualty of the Utah ski season.
Meanwhile, the temps are in the 20s and we suddenly realized he has no shoes to wear. Only the ski boots the EMTs pulled off his feet and stuck in a plastic bag during his helicopter trip.
I like that problem.
Things could have been worse. Much worse.