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Pomerelle Ski Patrol saves life of one of its own

December 20, 2016

The Ski Patrol at Pomerelle Mountain Resort have responded to numerous emergencies on the job, but a spokesman said an incident Saturday was a first for the team.

Marvin Heilesen, a member of the Pomerelle Ski Patrol, went down inside the first aid room at the resort, said Pomerelle Ski Patrol Director Dave Higdem. And Heilesen’s patrol colleagues took quick action that saved his life.

“We respond to emergencies all the time, but this was the first time the emergency involved a ski patrol member,” Higdem said.

Heilesen, 51, was in full cardiac arrest.

“Six volunteer patrollers took turns administering CPR for 40 minutes until a ground ambulance arrived,” Higdem said.

Higdem said Pomerelle called for an air ambulance, but they couldn’t respond due to bad weather.

Pomerelle Ski Patrol provided lifesaving chest compressions, artificial ventilations, supplemental oxygen and electrical therapy via an Automated External Defibrillator, which brought Heilesen back. And he was transported to a Magic Valley hospital for additional care. Heilesen is now home recovering and looking forward to the holidays.

Higdem said that all but four of the 45-member ski patrol at Pomerelle Mountain are volunteers.

Ski patrol members train to the level of an EMT to prepare for emergency situations like the one that occurred Saturday. And they must also be able to maneuver the mountain and operate a toboggan as well.

Higdem said as a registered non-profit organization, the Pomerelle ski patrol relies on donations for education, recruitment and the purchase of life-saving equipment like defibrillators, oxygen packs, monitoring devices and rescue sleds.

The Pomerelle Ski Patrol is currently planning a new on-mountain medical facility. And a fundraiser at Idaho Water Sports in Burley earlier this month was part of that effort.

“While a great number of donations came in, more is needed to help make a difference,” Higdem said.

Donations can be to the general patrol fund or to the building fund. Donations may be fully tax deductible, he said.

To make a donation to the ski patrol go to www.pomerelle.com, or call the resort at 208- 673-5555 or 208- 673-5599.

The Pomerelle Ski Patrol is registered patrol of the National Ski Patrol. Founded in 1938 and today the National Ski Patrol boasts over 28,000 members. For more information about the ski patrol at Pomerelle, call Higdem at 208-329-3681.