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Letters to the Editor for the week of March 7

Snowboarding accident highlights our impressive emergency medical system My stepson, who recently moved from Vancouver to Squamish, is an accomplished athlete in snowboarding, rock climbing and running. At age 30, he is in peak physical shape.
Photo by Braden Dupuis

Snowboarding accident highlights our impressive emergency medical system

My stepson, who recently moved from Vancouver to Squamish, is an accomplished athlete in snowboarding, rock climbing and running. At age 30, he is in peak physical shape.

In early January, he and his brother and two friends boarded the Creekside Gondola for a day of snowboarding in fresh powder. It's a mountain he grew up on, but an unexpected impact with a tree stump changed (my stepson's life in an instant).

What played out over the next 48 hours is an example of our medical system working in the way it was designed to. Years of training, intuitive decision making, skill and teamwork all came together with the best possible outcome any family could ask for. 

It all started with the quick action of the Whistler doctor on the hill who recognized the seriousness of the injury and began administering pain meds (intravenously). Every day, doctors freeski Whistler (Mountain) with a radio and a backpack containing emergency medicine. This is a service that saves lives on the mountain, and our family strongly supports this program.  

The ski patrol got him to an ambulance, which took him to the Whistler Health Care Centre. We are so grateful for the stellar Whistler doctors who immediately diagnosed the seriousness of his injury and requested he be air lifted to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).

The weather gods were kind that day and the air ambulance arrived in an hour. The team of paramedics on the helijet kept him alive while he flew the 25 minutes to VGH, another superb link in this chain of emergency medicine. 

When he landed at VGH, he was immediately taken to a new state-of-the-art hybrid operating room. A team of trauma surgeons, led by Dr. Emilie Joos, and every available specialist at the hospital that afternoon worked to keep my stepson alive.  

That chain of professionalism extended to the ICU doctors and nurses who kept him safe those first tense nights and those who cared for him for five weeks in hospital. 

My stepson's case is a trauma team's golden moment when they can be proud of what went right. While the case is already the talk of the medical community—this one's for the record books—they plan to share his success story far and wide.

No words can express the thankfulness our family feels towards all the medical professionals who brought their "A" game every step of the way.

Meanwhile, the rehabilitation is going well and I have no doubt that my stepson will be back on the mountain next season with a whole new perspective on life. 

Ingrid Abbott

Grateful for the excellent care

I unfortunately suffered a freak accident while out skiing Boundary Bowl back on Feb. 13.

The reason for this letter is to thank those who made my immediate evacuation from the mountain as caring, calm and professional as possible.

(Thank you to) the wonderful women who reported the accident and then stayed with me until the ski patrol came. All I can remember is that you lived in Black Tusk. I will be eternally grateful for the support you gave.

Thank you to the patroller, Ian, who, with the aid of colleagues, a (toboggan) and a Ski-Doo, got me to the base of Whistler—again it was reassuring to be in such professional hands.

Lastly thank you to Dr. Clark Lewis at the (Whistler Health Care Centre). I, apparently, under much medication kept calling you the coolest doctor in the world. I can only apologize ...

In more than 20 years of skiing Whistler, this was my first, and hopefully last, call on the services of the emergency mountain and town staff. I can only thank you all once again.

Mike Wilmot

Please vaccinate your kids

Thank you Clare Ogilvie and Andrew Mitchell for your editorials regarding personal experience with family who've suffered due to childhood diseases now preventable due to immunization.

As a '60s child, I was lucky to be born after the polio vaccine was introduced, but in my childhood community, there were people who were crippled and paralyzed due to this disease.

I had chicken pox as a child and shingles as an adult (same virus), which was painful both times.

In high school, teens in a neighbouring community died of meningitis. I had mumps as a teen, which was miserable, and a male neighbour became sterile due to this disease. A dear friend got cervical cancer as a young adult due to HPV and is unable to bear children as a result. I've seen and heard babies with whooping cough—truly awful.    

Due to immunization, my son will neither get nor pass on any of the above. As well, he's had other vaccines so that he could vacation in Central America.  

There are those that believe it is a conspiracy, or that vaccines do more harm than good, and choose to ignore facts. I recently had an internet debate with a person who questioned vaccines. The websites he showed as "proof" had such dubious statements as "measles provides protection against cancer." If this was true, why are post-measles baby boomers getting cancer? In fact, my sister recently had a bone-marrow transplant and in the time before she could be re-vaccinated, a case of measles could have killed her.

However, I believe that many who have not vaccinated their kids have not seen these diseases and their effects personally and therefore feel it is not necessary.

This is proof that herd immunity works! We don't see smallpox (which killed 50 to 90 per cent of coastal Indigenous peoples) anymore. Because it is eradicated, Canada hasn't vaccinated for smallpox since 1972.

Please think of this: Do you want your kids to safely travel the world? If there is a local outbreak of measles, could you afford to take time off work to quarantine your children? Would you be concerned for the health of unvaccinated babies and immuno-compromised friends in your community? Would you go to the medical clinic if your kid got really sick? Would you be prepared to live with serious complications such as deafness?  

Please get the facts—the Public Health Canada and World Health Organization websites are good places to start.

If you have questions, please speak to people here in your community who you trust with your healthcare needs. We need you to join us, for the safety and health of everyone in our community.

Nancy Lee

Immunizations should not be mandatory

I understand there are petitions going around Pemberton and the Sea to Sky (region) to make vaccination mandatory in schools, and that the health minister has released a statement saying this could now happen by fall 2019.

I am not against vaccination, but based on my research, the current products out there contain far too many materials that have been tested to be hazardous and carcinogenic. 

I am here expressing my concern regarding making vaccines mandatory. I feel mandatory vaccination would be a breach of our human rights and the democracy that Canada prides itself upon.

I would like to see the current government and community at large support empowerment and informed choice for vaccination rather than mandatory vaccination, and the support of research and production of 100-per-cent safe vaccines for infections that we currently see the need to be vaccinated against.

There is not enough and too much conflicting research regarding the safety and effectiveness of the current vaccines on the market.

Current research coming out of Europe is showing certain child vaccines do not even have the labelled active ingredients that (they are) meant to vaccinate against, and (have) many non-labelled and cross-contaminated ingredients.

One question I want to bring up for discussion, with current knowledge and research now stating that there is no safe level of aluminum in the body, does our government have a de-toxification/heavy metal cleansing protocol in place for vaccinated children and youths who have been vaccinated with vaccines that include metals and other foreign material not native to the human body? 

Being a local father of two, I am very passionate about my children's health, and wish both my own and other children the best opportunity for health and future potential in becoming healthy, intelligent constructive members of society.

Polek Rybczynski

Trip to Sliding Centre not worth it

The Whistler Sliding Centre does not want spectators—or at least that is the distinct impression one is left with.

A group of us decided to go and cheer the women's bobsled heats last Saturday. (There was) little or no signage from the Wizard lift for pedestrians. Once at the venue, and having to be directed to the ticket booth, there were no signs to indicate the paths to the various bends or refreshment tent.

Here is a multi-million-dollar facility and no loos! (Other than a few freezing porta potties.) To watch the action, one stands in snow on the side of the track with the only viewing space being a few raised steps at the start.

What a wasted opportunity for the bobsled community to promote their sport. My advice: don't bother going.

Andrew Niemeyer
Leura, New South Wales, Australia