Kim Kreissig: Thank you for saving my husband’s life
It is with great admiration, respect and gratitude that I publicly acknowledge the heroic efforts of no less than 30 medical and support professionals in our town. The story you are about to read showcases our incredible Steamboat Ski Patrol, but in no way minimizes the outstanding efforts of our emergency hospital staff, ambulance drivers, air support personnel and visiting doctors who saved my husband’s life on Feb. 16.
Peter was skiing alone that Friday. He normally skis more remote areas on the mountain, but this day, he headed down Rudi’s Run. Without witness, around 2 p.m., he was found unresponsive by Dr. Ryan Peters, a visiting ER physician from Michigan. Dr. Peters started CPR with Ski Patrol arriving immediately thereafter. Dr. Peters further assisted with intubation.
As incredible luck would have it, Dr. Russ Horowitz arrived next on the scene. Dr. Horowitz is an emergency medicine doctor at Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, a specialty hospital in an academic medical center. Dr. Horowitz teaches resuscitation, focusing on medical management and team dynamics. It is amazing to realize that these two visiting docs jumped right in without hesitation. Not only were they key in Peter’s resuscitation, but Dr. Horowitz later followed up in writing to applaud our Ski Patrol.
In an email to Dave Hunter, VP of mountain operations, Dr. Horowitz wrote, “The professionalism and efficiency of your responders was truly inspiring. I arrived on scene of a very quiet and controlled resuscitation. All of the Ski Patrol members had clearly defined roles. The patient already had an AED placed, CPR was in progress and bag/valve/mask breathing was underway. The team members seamlessly traded compression responsibilities, a necessity as CPR is an effortful process. I assisted one paramedic with IV placement, medication and fluid administration. He knew exactly where supplies and medications were located and acted without delay. Another team member quickly provided the supplies. The lead paramedic easily troubleshot unique issues including blood freezing in suction tubing, endotracheal tube placement and a challenging oxygen bag delivery because of the moving sled. He held onto me while I provided respirations — I felt absolutely safe and secure.”
Dr. Horowitz further expounded on the team’s ability to respond to uncertain circumstances. “We informed the Ski Patrol member who was guiding/driving us down the mountain that we were running low on oxygen. He placed a call and another member quickly responded with a full tank at our next stop. I later told him we needed to stop to suction blood and readjust the endotracheal tube, and he calmly brought the sled and team to an easy stop.”
Dr. Horowitz made special mention of the many individuals operating in unison as one. He was inspired by the fact that there was never a moment of yelling and that each team member was very aware of his/her role and how to perform it. He specifically called out all medical responders including the snowmobile driver, the sled driver, other team members who provided necessary equipment, those who cleared the way for the sled and traveled along with entourage.
Dr. Horowitz concluded his letter with the following: “I have not worked with a better team in all of my 17 years as an ED doc and medical educator.”
This incredible mountainside rescue was followed by an experienced ambulance crew transport to Yampa Valley Medical Center, to then be met by a most capable and qualified ER staff. Once stabilized, Peter was transported again by ambulance to Bob Adams Airport, where he (and I), along with incredible flight nurses, were flown to the Heart Center of the Rockies in Loveland.
The next days were somewhat a blur, but we had exceptional care at every turn. Today, I am thrilled to report that Peter is home, getting stronger each day and looking forward to getting back to work.
From my heart, I cannot convey how blessed we all are to live in this valley and have access to outstanding, life-saving medical care — especially that offered by our Ski Patrol. It takes a unique individual to choose a career that requires giving more of yourself than you may get in return. Every one of our Ski Patrollers selflessly offers compassion, dedication and outstanding skill.
Peter has a second chance at life, and we want to remind our community that we live in a most awesome place, filled with the best people … and that we are literally surrounded by true angels on earth. Thank you to all who helped.
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