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TR: An airlifting situation!!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Is it broken?
After living in Austria since 2006 and clocking up the mountain miles in the summer and winter it finally happened....
That bloody dreadful moment when you know you are not leaving the mountain under your own steam!

On Monday 20th August I got my first ride in a helicopter! It was actually very boring but I did get to do a bit of dangling in a bag from it as well so most boxes were ticked!
After spending a nice few hours with Waynos on the downhill mountain bike park at Planai, Schladming I decided that enough was enough and that this whole steer around a corner thing was totally overrated. I was wrong.

After coming down quite a fast steep section riddled with brake bumps and troughs my front forks had given up any kind of chance of rebounding enough for me to push around a corner (see.... I'm blaming gear not my total lack of skill!) the result; I sailed over the top of the corner and my bike balanced nicely on the top.

I think I clipped the top of the bank with my foot and then did a twisted tumble. The first impact was a bit 'crunchy' on my shoulder and then I think I rolled over and ended up face down in a thin ditch pointing down the mountain.

I knew it had been a bit of a bad one and instantly knew that there was no chance of me getting down this mountain via my own muscle power!
I managed to get myself upright (which was a challenge in that position) and did a quick 'what bit of me is up the creek' accounting. Ankle couldn't bear weight, knee was twinged, and shoulder OUCHY. I figured it wasn't dislocated as it just didn't seem to hurt enough and I could uncomfortable move it about a bit.

I got myself looking back up the mountain towards my bike and a very inviting tree stump to sit on (that's about all I could think about). The only problem was that it was about 5 meters away up the hill.

Over a spot of rough, about 20 meters away there was a footpath with a bunch of people sitting on a bench. I think they had seen me fall, I have no idea. They called out to me asking if I needed help but my responses weren't great (I was a bit shaken up). I think I just asked them to wait a moment. Now I think about it, that was all I was actually trying to shout 'moment...moment...'. Well, they decided that this was a totally appropriate reply from someone who had just flung themselves into a ditch, who hadn't twisted their body or head in anyway to acknowledge them or face them and hadn't moved a single step but was just staring up the track.

Then a fellow biker came hurtling down the track, somehow managed to avoid my bike and make the turn... he decided not to stop too (he even went passed Waynos who was waiting for me at our next stop and didn't say a word... I've got a few words I'd like to offer but that's a different story Skullie )

I managed to get my bag off which had my phone in it and chuck it on the floor but it ended up too far away for me to reach. I now had a few bearings about me and started calling for help.
Not long after I heard Waynos shout up to me and up he came.

When he arrived I think the first thing I said to him was 'Just get me to that tree stump!!' (it looked so inviting!)
Anyhoo, he called the Bergrettung with our location and within 15 minutes or so the chappy in his van arrived.
Him and 2 lads came up to us did a quick assessment and decided to call for helicopter assistance as I was in an awkward place with a very long bumpy drive down pretty much the whole mountain and also because I had a bit of a complaint of numbness and pins and needles in my hand.

The four of them bagged me up, put me on the heaviest looking body wielding wheel barrow I've ever seen and dragged me to the footpath.
Shortly after the Helicopter arrived, a doctor drugged me up, put me in their winch bag and then off we went!

I honestly thought it would be a bit more fun Sad i could only see a tiny cloud above me, I had no sense of swinging or dangling and by this time I was on happy juice too!
We landed soon after and then the medics transferred me into the helicopter.
I was literally over the road from Schladming hospital but because of a worry of any spinal damage and my weird hand they decided to whisk me off to Salzburg Emergency Hospital.

After a 25 minute ish (I dunno... I was high) about 70km but with some mountains in the way. I was transferred to a Trauma room. Then it was just like watching a medical documentary... handovers, chats, wheeled in to the next room which was a CT scanner, got a whole body scan, then through a door to the next room for X-ray then back to the first area.

No internal bleeding, ankle isn't broken but is a bit wonky along with the knee. Broken collar bone. No spinal damage.
Then wheeled next door for pain management and recovery.

By this time the misses and Queeniepopped in.
Must have been the sight of them that popped the old blood pressure up a bit, so I had to wait a little longer until I went onto ward.
They went up to the ward before me, and were eventually sent home prior to my arrival.

I then spent 2 days/nights on ward for pain management. Have been given a back brace to wear that forces my shoulders back to try to align the bones for repair.
The food was excellent but the days start and end early. Which for my is a bit of a thing as I'm a night owl and was very, very bored by 9pm on a dark ward.
On the last morning I was given another x-ray of my collar bone.
On check-out they give you all your imaging on a dvd. Which is pretty cool as I now have a whole body CT and know what my all my bits look like wink

11 days on and another x-ray later... Not much repair going on to the bone, going to be reassessed next Monday and then maybe go under the knife.

INSURANCE Make sure you've got some!

I'm insured with the OEAMTC (which is the Austrian AA).
They run most of the emergency helicopter services. Cover for the whole family for European and North America is about €70 for the year and covers all mountain rescues all year round and road rescues too.
This is only for the Helicopter rescue.
The bill is €8071.91
This is for 80 minutes of flying time at €92.87 a minute.
€511.78 for the doctor and the rest on bits and bobs and drugs.
I received the bill within a week with an immediate request for payment or insurance details.
Then I filled in another form and that should be that. I've learned that the reason it isn't automated is because if you are also insured by others then they split the bill.

My Austrian E-card insurance is the basic equivalent of the NHS. It is the state minimum. I have to pay €10.50 per night/day for my time in the hospital.
Anything you take home with you they would put on the bill (crutches etc) but not if it is direct treatment eg. my brace may be covered as it is basically the same treatment as a plaster cast on a broken bone.... but I'm not sure yet!
I have received a form to declare more info about the incident for my state/county insurers to assess whether they need to involve any other parties (eg liabilities from car drivers, or work accidents etc.. etc..)

Quite a long post this one... but maybe of a little interest to some of you?? A bit of info about how the system of non NHS and cross insurances works out here.

Incidentally, those of you with no travel insurance but who carry the NHS E-card would have received exactly the same treatment at exactly the same costs as above.
But... obviously the getting you home bit, extra taxis and all those other bits and bobs soon add up!

Anyone else had fun up up and away???
Now you see me...
Up Up and Away!
snow conditions     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@flangesax, sorry to hear of your adventures, hope the recovery doesn't require surgery.

I had a similar experience a couple of winters ago, although fortunately I wasn't winched underneath the helicopter as I think that would have finished me off. Was the on-board medic an extremely cute lady doctor, perhaps flying in Alpin 5? She's my favourite Happy

Good luck with the rehab.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
That must be the Tyrol lot!!
Mine were the Steirmarkters... I feel like i missed out now!
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flangesax wrote:
Mine were the Steirmarkters... I feel like i missed out now!
Laughing Sounds like I got the premium experience! Seat (actually, a stretcher) on the inside rather than dangling on a bit of string from the outside, morphine shot to begin the boarding process, and a cute Doc who stroked my cheek when things got a bit scary.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Thu 30-08-18 14:57; edited 1 time in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
The drugs were very, very effective... But there is an obvious lack of cheek stroking in Salzburg!

The dangling was to get me out of the steep area. We were quite close to 2 lifts as well!
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@flangesax, so sorry to here this. Hope you are fit and well soon and don’t need to go under the knife!
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
is it just me that would prefer the knife and know it's fixed?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
holidayloverxx wrote:
is it just me that would prefer the knife and know it's fixed?


If it is needed yes but the implication was that may not be necessary...
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@NickyJ, I guess I'm not so trusting of only a brace to pull a completely broken collar bone into place and hold it there to mend
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@flangesax, Ouch, best of luck on the recovery.
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@holidayloverxx, i aggree with the knife option!

I've heard that natural heeling is normally the best option. Obviously there are potential complications with any operation and further disruption.
I'm the type of person who finds it hard not to be active. So the bone isn't really at rest as I'm always bouncing about!
I'm sure for some people a good binge watch of a tv series over a week will keep them still enough!
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@flangesax, that's what I suspected wink
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Collar bones usually fix very well without an op. It depends on the severity and alignment of the break, The old figure of 8 bandage to pull back the shoulders is also a bit old hat now, I believe.

The positives of not having an op are that there is no operation, no risk of infection etc etc and you don't have a plate and screws in your collar bone.

What is certain is that it is pretty painful until it starts to nit properly. My youngest had a nasty break and had it in a sling for 4 weeks, just prior to his GCSEs. It healed, not straight, but it healed.


Last edited by So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much on Thu 30-08-18 15:23; edited 1 time in total
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@flangesax, bad luck! Hope your recovery goes well. When I broke my collarbone (skiing) I was surprised not to go under the knife when I saw the x-ray. The docs in resort simply strapped me up (a brace plus a sling for the arm), gave me painkillers, and told me not to ski for (IIRC) six weeks. Seemed to do the job.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@flangesax, wishing you a speedy and successful recovery. I trust that the busted collar bone is not preventing you from preparing the usual culinary feasts for any guests currently staying at Haus Susanne.... Madeye-Smiley
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@flangesax, get well soon. FWIW my daughter broke her collarbone in 2 places playing ice hockey. The floating part was about an inch long and was rotated about 90 degrees to where it should have been on the initial x-ray. It was amazing to see on subsequent x-rays it was rotating back to where it should be all by itself. Finally fixed in nearly perfect alignment with 2 very small bumps where the joins were.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
We have been following your mishap flangesax, haven't you watched Touching the Void?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Scarpa wrote:
Touching the Void?


Is that something else that the cute doc provides?

Sounds like a nasty smash, I'm dreading the day when I finally do my collarbone (it's got to be inevitable for most of us that ski and mountain bike).
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I’ll pat you on the back in a couple of weeks buddy 👌
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@flangesax, wishing you a quick and full recovery! I broke my collar bone in a cycling accident. It healed well naturally in nothing but a sling. It was boring at home so I was working and typing with one hand. Got a lump where the bones fused together, but have full range of movement and I suspect the joint is stronger than before as it’s so thick with bone.
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@flangesax, ouch. Thing with MTB is it can involve hitting hard things. Though having said that I broke mine skiing in Kitz. Didn't even realise it was broken and skied about half of the Familienstreif with it. Shouldered my skis and walked a hundred meters to the gondola. Then sort of thought I'd take a break and wait while the others did a run. After half an hour I put my hand under my shirt & felt the bone poking right up... then the pain came! That had to be operated. I still have bits of wire in there now.
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Nice gore! Hope it heals OK.

First time I did mine there were two ends that overlaped with a small wedge shaped third piece floating in the middle. They decided not to pin it because "it'll be stronger that way". It took 6 weeks to start to knit and another 6 weeks before it was healed. Had a lump the size of a fist for a long time after (years) and its about an inch shorter. The lump reduced significantly now to what it used to be but the overlaping tip still sticks out and makes people wince when I show it off Toofy Grin

Second time was just one break and again wasn't pinned because "The old break is too far out of line... That should have been pinned. I wonder which idiot left it like that?" "You did" "Oh" rolling eyes Healed pretty quick and the misaligned ends actually gave me some of the lost length back.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@flangesax, oh dear. Heal quickly.
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