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Saint Alphonsus Ski and Mountain Trauma Conference Returns to Sun Valley
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Monday, October 31, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Don’t panic if you see dozens of fire engines in the parking lot outside the Sun Valley Lodge this coming weekend.

There’s no fire, unless you count the burning desire of firefighters and others to get more proficient at rescuing people on the ski slopes and in the backcountry.

Saint Alphonsus is bringing its Ski & Mountain Trauma Conference back to Sun Valley after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. More than 550 ski patrollers, firefighters, EMTs, police and other first responders are expected to attend the 15 annual conference, which will be held Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 3-5.

Local first responders will be joined by personnel from regional departments, such as the Gooding Fire Department. Participants are expected to come from Colorado and other states, as well.

“We’re really pleased to bring this event back in person to Sun Valley and the Sun Valley Resort,” said Mark Snider, the media, public relations and digital strategy coordinator for Saint Alphonsus. “They’re able to do a good job and help us with this conference.”

The conference will feature lectures from medical and wilderness experts, including one looking at lessons learned from the 2021 Devils Creek Burnover, which injured five firefighters, and another about  decision-making during catastrophes in the Grand Canyon. It also will include hands-on medical simulation courses covering such topics as how to deal with a pediatric opioid overdose to avalanche resuscitation and backcountry management of hypothermia and frostbite.

The conference serves as a valuable resource for volunteers and first responders from rural agencies that don’t have a large travel or training budget, said Snider.

“One volunteer EMT from Garden Valley told me this is training she would not be able to get any other way, he said. “It provides first-rate, state-of-the-art training and lectures that allow personnel to get hands-on training from lead instructors at a very reasonable price.”

This particular conference has several sessions about mental health and coping tools for responders who are traumatized by the events they respond to. It also includes sessions focusing on how to provide first aid for pets in the backcountry since EMTs may find they have to treat an animal alongside a human.

“The conference reaffirms the partnership between Saint Alphonsus which is the region’s most advanced trauma center and pre-hospital responders who are the first ones on scene in something goes wrong on a ski slope or high on a hiking trail in the backcountry,” said Snider. “The ultimate goal to increase the chance of a good outcome for somebody who may be injured while recreating or working in the backcountry.”

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