It’s been quite a while since we’ve last posted. Almost 7 years after Keely’s chairlift accident it’s still very hard to enter new seasons anticipating reports of falls from ski lifts.
My goal is to only report positive stories- especially since Keely is so very much living life to the fullest thanks to first responders and blood donors back in 2010.
The unfortunate thing is that these accidents will continue as long as chairs don’t have restraint bars, or even if they do patrons don’t utilize those bars; for as long as users are squirrely or distracted (though a bar would be an awesome deterrent); for as long as one size fits all benches are used where the little ones sit with their heavy equipment dangling off of their feet (which of course, is where the pronged bars are amazing); for as long as riders have dangling strings/straps that get caught on disembarkment… really, we could come up with a lot of what ifs… and yes, most of it is human error because thank God and thanks to those amazing and hardworking ski resort employees mechanical errors rarely occur (thus the oft-repeated phrase you’ll hear that chairlifts are safer than elevators- and then from this we could discuss how you could make numbers say anything).
That human error is going to occur we can predict.
And, here I can hear what we’ve heard over the years: the nature of Darwinism weeding out the stupid; it’s the parents’ fault; the sport is meant to be unrestricted allowing for complete freedom and independence; the sport is inherently dangerous and risky.
But… what if we could prevent the severe consequences of this predicted human error, because it IS going to occur. What if we could prevent that one family from losing their loved one? What if we could save lives? I argue that simple design changes are needed- adding bars to all lifts that effectively prevent slipping off of the bench. I don’t really care if we mandate the use of the bars…. if people want to ride up without using them then best wishes. In addition to design changes, education is key.
So my happy story: The ski industry affirmatively educates patrons on proper chairlift use. I can personally attest how some resorts proactively seek out better ideas/ways to make the chair safe for all ages. I’d like to share today’s Good Morning America ski lift safety video as our annual reminder of how to properly sit on the lift (please look at our past posts for more detail).
Now that safety bars are showing up on local beginner runs how do you educate properly on when to raise the bar to disembark? We spotted this cool light at Mammoth recently and wanted to share! Watch it turn from red to green indicating when to raise the chairlift bar.
After Keely’s ski accident in 2010 we learned about the importance of blood donors. Linked is a Give it Forward and Donate Blood PowerPoint made to encourage and inspire blood donation. Keely presents this to local groups urging their active participation in donating blood.
We are strong advocates for LifeStream, our local blood bank, and thankful to all who take time to save lives.
As the ski season approaches my “Mommy worry” kicks in hopeful that no family will have to experience what we did almost five years ago when our then eight-year-old fell 32 feet off of a chairlift. Because of the accident we are now strong advocates for ski safety and saving lives through blood donation- issues that are dear and near to our hearts.
At this time every year I have posted about ski lift accidents that occurred in prior seasons. This is depressing to me. So instead I will focus on the positive for the upcoming season- increased education of slope safety.
The NSAA‘s “Kids on Lifts” policy is a wonderful start to share with friends and family. I would add no loose clothing, hold on, and use the safety bar (if available). It would be a wonderful thing if the safety bar were always an option to use or not to use per preference of the ski patron- preferably bars designed with both little and big bodies in mind like Mammoth Mountain‘s retrofitted bars.
Have a wonderful ski season! Our family can’t wait. Let it SNOW!
Yesterday my preschooler and I were watching Nick Jr.’s Paw Patrol and the Pups Save the Treats/Pups Get a Lift episode aired. The episode’s description is: “PAW Patrol must save the day!/Katie and her cat Cali are on the chair lift when it stops leaving them above the ski hill with no way to get down!”
While being stuck on a ski lift is not a matter to take lightly, the characters used proper restraint bar use while waiting for rescue. Mainstreaming safe sports protocol in a preschool educational entertainment show assists in furthering our goal to make the use of chair lift restraint bars second nature.
Recently our family had the chance to assist Mammoth Mountain with their educational video “Know the Zone.” It was such a fun opportunity in furthering our family goal to promote safety at ski resorts. You can check it out on YouTube by clicking here.
It is also the NSAA‘s safety month. Be sure to check out your local resort to see the fun activities they have planned in promotion of safety education on the slopes.
January 1, 2014, the start of a New Year and our return to ski Snow Valley. This journey almost four years in the making. If it were up to us, her parents, we never would’ve returned- just too hard. But Keely couldn’t wait and with ski club starting up in two weeks we headed up again as a family to re-introduce ourselves to the place we cherished and will continue to hold close.
Keely was ready to return last year. We had excuses with ski passes elsewhere, too busy, wondering about those chairs, and worry. This year we had no excuse. Keely signed up for her school ski club (new to her as a new middle schooler) and the venue will be the place where the accident occurred. We waited until we could wait no more and headed up to enjoy a wonderful sunny Southern California day of skiing.
Memories of what happened on April 3, 2010 flooded back on that car ride up. It was a different route as HWY 330 was open, unlike last time. We imagined where the helicopter might have picked her up to take her to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital- this county sheriff’s helicopter that met her on the then closed highway to whisk her alone with medical personnel. We passed familiar places like Blauer’s where we always rented the kids’ season rentals to use during the Rim Youth Ski Program. And then the flags standing tall in front of the resort parking lot greeted us as they waved in the wind. An old familiar sight rose before us and though Mother Nature hasn’t helped much with snow there was plenty to enjoy a morning of skiing.
Craig skied with Keely alone on the first runs. The other two kids and I waited at the lodge playing in the snow and revisiting the areas I was familiar with when entertaining my babies while my older children, Keely and then Keely and Luke, skied with Grandpa and Dad. As Craig and Keely loaded the lift I watched as it slightly swung steadying in action as it transported them up the hill. Though recently bars have been placed on the beginner lifts no bars were on this lift. And up they went.
As at the base of the hill asking about our favorite ski patroller Donna, Craig and Keely asked mid-mountain if she had been spotted. At that moment they saw her skiing down, and she joined them on the momentous occasion of that first ride up the chair from which Keely slipped 32 feet.
And we are back. Life is not the same, but I guess that’s life. It is because life is short and meant to be enjoyed to its fullest we are back to the place that touched and changed our lives. It is because of Keely we are back.