Injured on the Slopes

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Assessing the severity of the injury is key. It’s always better to over-estimate the injury than under-estimate. Denial is not a river in Egypt and injured people will often try to down-play their symptoms for putting on a brave face. For high impact injuries with head or neck involvement many first aid experts ask “Do you think you have broken your back” as a first question, as people innately seem to be aware they have a serious back issue, moreso than bystanders. Be sure to call ski patrol before moving anyone in this category. You’ll normally find the telephone number on the piste map and you can tell them your location based on the piste name and nearest terrain feature. When you first arrive at your resort, it’s worth taking a moment to put the local emergency numbers into your phone, just in case you need them.

One of the many concerns international skiers have about coming to a ski holiday in Japan is what will happen if they get injured? And let’s face it, on a ski holiday zooming through trees and over bumps, the probability of injury is not insignificant. Most assume correctly that as Japan is a developed nation, the medical care will be quite good, but there are still concerns over differences in language, culture and the potential cost of the care. So we have found that almost all international ski tourists wisely take travel insurance for their trip and we always recommending checking the details – will it cover off-piste, side country, back country or park riding? If you are injured Hakuba is well-placed to provide you with excellent care.

There is a private clinic located in Iimori (Shintani Clinic), about 15 mins away by taxi. The closest hospital is in Omachi, 35 kms away. The Japanese clinics have done a reasonable job learning to adapt to handle international patients. The doctors typically speak broken English, but unfortunately there is no translators. Many skiers are transferred by ambulance or taxi from the mountain directly to the private clinic. For very serious injuries patients are transferred by road or helicopter to a
large hospital in Nagano or Matsumoto city.

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