Up to 55 injured skiers and snowboarders arrive at Colorado emergency rooms each day, analysis shows | SummitDaily.com

Up to 55 injured skiers and snowboarders arrive at Colorado emergency rooms each day, analysis shows

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun


DENVER — Skier safety laws that require skiers to recognize inherent risks in the sport and be responsible for their own behavior have for decades protected the resort industry from large legal settlements and kept the public from understanding how often people are seriously hurt on the slopes.

But new statistics provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment offer a peek behind the resort industry’s curtain. A study of ski-season hospital admissions in 20 mountain ZIP codes shows as many as 55 skiers and snowboarders a day arriving at emergency departments.

Another report shows 4,151 skiers and snowboarders transported to emergency rooms in ambulances or helicopters in 2018, 2019 and the first part of 2020, which is about 10 patients every day of the season.

And a review of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment statistics showed more than a third of the 1,426 skiers and snowboarders admitted to Colorado’s trauma centers in the 2017-18 season required immediate surgery.

Dr. Marc Doucette has worked in the emergency department at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco since it opened in 2005. The emergency medical team at the hospital — which serves skiers from Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Copper Mountain Resort, Keystone Resort and Loveland Ski Area — has seen traffic steadily increasing in the last decade. The patients come in surges, closely aligned with weekends and holidays.

The Christmas holiday is the busiest, with the week before New Year’s typically seeing 100 patients every day. Presidents Day weekend, spring break and Martin Luther King Jr. weekend typically see 50 to 70 patients a day. About half of the patients coming to the Level III trauma center are injured skiers or snowboarders, Doucette said.

Read more at ColoradoSun.com.

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