A Mock Incident (disaster drill) at Giants Ridge - October 4, 2011.

It is the Christmas holiday season at the Giants Ridge Ski Area.  As usual during this time of year it is an overcast day but with an above normal temperature of 15 degrees.  There are wind gusts of 20 miles an hour making the chill factor 2 degrees and visibility is poor due to the blowing snow.  It is just after 10:00AM when the phone rings with the horrifying announcement that there was a chairlift E-brake failure on the Sarajevo Lift resulting in the chairlift gliding backwards unto other chairs.  Some of the chair occupants are beginning to “self-bail” and are colliding with skiers coming down the hill.   In fact one chair with occupants has dislodged from the lift and tumbled to the ground with them pinned beneath it.

Immediately the shift leader calls 911 and immediately informs management of the situation.  A patroller is assigned to grab the “Mass Casualty Box” and a chair evacuation bag which contains the Lock out for the lift.  The shift leader radios for all patrollers to report to the scene of the accident.  Those on the Sarajevo hill state they will grab toboggans and ski the chairlift line.  Unfortunately, two patrollers report they are stuck on the chairlift.   With help from maintenance personnel the scene is secured and the entire hill has been shut down.

The two shift leaders for the ski patrol immediately begin identifying the key tasks to be performed and start assigning patrollers, ski school instructors, and Giants Ridge personnel to help complete these tasks.  From the “Mass Casualty Box” clipboards with forms were distributed to the “Staging Officer” and to the “dispatcher” who hurried off to locate a quiet room.   The “Chair Lift Officer” and his crew begin with the removal of the two patrollers stuck on the chairlift and will continue down the line until all occupants are safely removed off the lift.   With the help of ski school instructors the man whose girlfriend jumped off the lift and was lying quietly on the ground below had finally stopped screaming and was beginning to calm down.    The “triage officer” announced for all the ambulatory injured to proceed into the warm lobby of the dorm to receive treatment.  Then began the process of assessing and marking the remaining patients into categories by METAGS.    Patrollers assigned to transportation begin transferring patients off the hill into the treatment center.  Once inside patients were reassessed treated and transferred onto the ambulance.  Wait….I hear a “whoop”, “whoop”….it is the helicopter arriving to pick up the severe head injury patient.

In just under two hours the last of the 14 injured had been transported to the White Community Hospital.  Now the necessary paperwork and accumulating all the information must be completed.

Looking out the window a patroller notices that one patient is still lying on the ground beneath the chair lift.  The medical examiner was notified of the fatality but must have forgotten to collect her.  “Oh well,” The Chair Evacuation Officer said as went out the door, picked the girl (Resusci Anne) off the ground, slung her over his shoulder and carried her upstairs to the storage area to be used again in a “mock” situation.

Mock Incident October, 2011

The mock incident was well covered by the local press, including these stories:
http://www.virginiamn.com/news/article_2d185f2b-9493-5c57-8e6a-80a55310a2c2.html
(Mesabi Daily News - story and photo of the incident scene)

http://www.virginiamn.com/news/image_18c50268-f38c-11e0-95a9-001cc4c03286.html
(Mesabi Daily News - story and photo’s of patrollers at work)

http://rangenewsnow.com/2011/slideshow-chair-lift-disaster-exercise-at-giants-ridge.html
(RangeNewsNow.com story and photo’s of patrollers at work)

We wish to thank Mark Sauer, Mesabi Daily News for use of his photo of the incident scene.

ReNae Magajna, Patrol Representative – Giants Ridge Ski Patrol

Roger Petry, patroller – Giants Ridge Ski Patrol