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Knowledge: how to help winter sports casualties


An accident on the ski slope. Whom should you alert? How should the accident site be secured? What first aid can you provide? We tell you some simple ways to help.

Illustration skiing accident Considerate skiers and snowboarders stop if somebody in front of them suffers a fall on the piste. If the casualty needs help, they secure the accident site and alert the piste rescue service. Depending on the nature of the accident and the injuries, the piste patroller decides which means of rescue makes the most sense (rescue sled and ambulance or Rega helicopter). If the rescue helicopter is called out, the Rega emergency flight physician and paramedic provide medical assistance and decide which hospital the patient should be flown to for further treatment.

How you can help:

  • 1) Secure the accident site

    Mark the area by placing a pair of crossed skis upright in the snow at a sufficient distance from the casualty and post someone to give warning.

  • 2) Administer first aid

    Ascertain the general condition of the injured person, position them correctly, attend to any wounds, and protect them against the cold.

  • 3) Alert the piste rescue service

    Report the place and time of the accident, the number of casualties and the nature of the injuries.

  • After a collision

    Establish the facts, note the names and addresses of those involved and of any witnesses, as well as the place, time and circumstances of the collision, and pay attention to the terrain, snow and visibility conditions.

  • In the event of life-threatening situations/avalanches

    Call out Rega direct via emergency number 1414.


Illustration injuries

First aid for winter sports casualties:

  • Limb injuries / Broken bones

    Possible symptoms:
    - severe pain
    - limited movement
    - possibly visible misalignment
    - swelling

    What you can do:
    - place casualty in a comfortable position
    - cushion, keep warm
    - if necessary, give painkillers

    - never try to “put back” dislocated joints
    - never try to reposition broken bones 

  • Concussion

    Possible symptoms:
    - brief unconsciousness
    - disorientation
    - nausea and vomiting
    - full or partial amnesia

    What you can do:
    - calm the casualty
    - sit down next to them and keep them warm

    What to avoid:
    - do not give painkillers
    - do not give anything to eat or drink

  • Back injury

    Possible symptoms:
    - pain in the area around the spine
    In the event of injury to the spinal cord:
    - disturbances in sensation or signs of paralysis in the arms or legs
    - difficulty in breathing
    - involuntary emptying of the bladder or stool discharge 

    What you can do:
    - stabilise the casualty’s position as much as possible (using jackets or blankets)

    What to avoid:
    - do not move the casualty
    - do not give painkillers

Further links

    The illustration, "Accidents on the piste", from our Rega Magazine 1414 clearly illustrates the key facts about Rega's missions in response to winter sports accidents:
  • Illustration: Accidents on the piste (PDF, 900 KB)

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