Tag Archives: ski patrol

Very first day on Vail Ski Patrol

By Bob Buckley

Editor’s Note: This nice vignette from Bob Buckley is another one that somehow got lost in the mail and didn’t make it into this edition of The Understories print version. We’ve posted it here for now, and are hoping to get around to another edition so we can get Bob’s stories into print!

On my very first day on the Vail Ski Patrol, I was assigned the job of working with Robby Robinson painting the LPR (lower patrol room). I had just met Robby and other than Joe Macy, the assistant patrol director who had hired me and a friend from our previous days as Loveland patrolmen, I didn’t know a single soul in Vail.  Robby thought it would be a great idea to attend a bachelor party that night for Jim Jacobsgaard , otherwise better known as Jake the Snake, and meet some of the patrol.  What a great idea!  Robby said he would pick me up at my newly rented apartment above Chuck White’s garage down in West Vail and take me home afterwards.

The party for Jake was being held at the “Slope” just across from the LPR. My first party on my first day in Vail was pretty boring as bachelor parties go, way less eventful than mine and Griffy’s  a few years later which featured CC and DD (no relation to DD Haskins). We all stood around drinking and later Buffalo, who was in charge of the projector, was playing a skin flick which the film kept breaking and nobody was watching anyway, I thought!

We all got pretty wasted and pretty much everyone left at once when Louie Pintowski, the manager, shut the place down. I’m thinking I will find Robby outside and file out with everyone else. But soon  I found myself alone and ended up staggering back down to West Vail in the dark and wondering what kind of  person would just blow you off  forcing you to walk home  on your first day in Vail! How could he have forgotten me?

Early next morning I drive in to the LPR to continue painting and a few minutes after arriving Robby shows up still dressed in his party clothes. It turns out Robby was in the front row behind the tall backrest watching the skin flick and passes out and nobody noticed him when the lights were turned off and the “ Slope” was closed and locked up for the night! You have to know Robby! He was mad that nobody thought to wake him up. Nobody saw him!

Robby and Jim Clarke ( JC ) were VA’s  surveyors and the rest of the summer I spent working with them on the survey crew.  JC and Robby were euphemistically known as “Sight and Sound.”  You can guess who the “Sound” was. Yes, Robby!  It had to be one of the best summers I have ever enjoyed hearing Robby and JC  discuss anything and everything which they had opinions on which was just about everything. I learned a lot about surveying and life in Vail and their good humor still makes me laugh today.  Both these patrolmen were great mentors. Except on my birthday.  Later on in September  they made it known to me that it was the ski patrol custom to toss a shot of Peppermint Schnapps down for every year of age at Donovan’s.  I made it to seven before I became crooked with my plumb bob!  The only thing I remember is waking up at Robby’s  having soiled the sheets and my clothes.  I don’t think Kathy thought I was very cool!

Where am I? A fairly fortunate case of cardiac arrest

By Bob Buckley

Editor’s Note: This nice vignette from Bob Buckley somehow got lost in the mail and didn’t make it into this edition of The Understories print version. We’ve posted it here for now, and are hoping to get around to another edition so we can get Bob’s stories into print!

I started on the Vail Ski Patrol in 1970 and my last year was 1984. The thing that really stands out in my mind is the miracle that I made it through the first year! I am forever grateful to Paul Testwuide, Joe Macy, and Bill Brown for hiring me in the first place and keeping me on after some pretty stupid mistakes that first year! I was very fortunate to survive and learn from my mistakes and from the older master patrolmen’s nightly training sessions in Donovans’ Copper Bar. There were supervisor ER’s and there were Buffalo, Sandy, Chupa, Jake, and JC’s ER’s, all of which were humbling, but I listened and learned and eventually I myself became a competent master patrolman. The learned skills awarded me with some of the most fulfilling moments of my life.

One of the moments was when the patrol team that consisted of myself, appointed the accident site commander by dispatch, Walt Olson, Janet Testwuide, Bobby Morris, Bill Bird, JC Clark and the Trail Crew plus a very competent cardiologist who asked if he could help resuscitated a 41-year-old New Jersey husband and father of three young children who fell over with a cardiac arrest in the chair 17 lift maze on St. Patrick’s Day 1983.

The luck of the Irish, he had his heart attack in front of two physicians. Bobby Morris was managing the heart kit (suitcase), Janet was doing the chest compressions, Walt was doing the airway management, JC was recording all the drugs, Bill Bird brought us a second heart kit from Eagles Nest as we were just blowing through the drugs.

The Trail Crew broke down and rebuilt the maze because skiers had been stepping over and on us, and Paul Testwuide was personally helping Claude Wood, the haul cat driver who was at the top chair 14, hook up the cat with a roller. Janet became winded doing the non-stop chest compressions so I relieved her and Walt was managing the airway and compressing the bag. Bobby got the defibrillator up and running and handed the defibrillator paddles to the cardiologist who administered the shock and was looking at the heart monitor which Bobby set up and I was looking at the newly awakened patient at my knees.

I was excitedly trying to get the attention of the doctor who was still looking at the monitor. It was so damn exciting seeing a live patient after so many that didn’t make it. The cardiologist saw the heart beating again on the monitor and wanted to give a lighter shock to bring about a better heart rhythm.

After the second shock the heart returned to a normal rhythm and the man asked:  “Where am I?”

It was truly a classic moment and while we were awaiting the haul cat, the Cardiologist asked “Who are you guys? You have more equipment and drugs than I have at home in my ER!”

I was looking up lower Avanti praying for the haul cat to transport this patient to the hospital when I saw what looked like a white cloud racing down the slope at us. It was a powder day and Claude Wood put the pedal to the metal on the haul cat and was preceded by red coated ski patrolmen leading the charge down Avanti. It was the prettiest sight I ever saw!

This was truly a proud moment for the Vail Ski Patrol, Vail Associates, Inc., Bill Brown who supported his patrol, Paul Testwuide,  Dr. Jack Eck who put our heart kit together, and Jake the Snake who put us all on this path, and St. Patrick! We also beat the ski school for the first time in the history of the St. Patrick ski patrol/ski school softball game on skis. A lot of green beer was consumed that night!