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7-year-old falls off Blue Hills ski lift, suffers serious injuries

The Canton Fire Department reports a 7-year-old boy from Rockland suffered serious injuries when he fell 35 feet from a ski lift at the Blue Hills Ski Area around 4:20 p.m. Canton paramedics transported the boy to a nearby field at Meditech on Blue Hill River Road, from which a helicopter flew him to Children's Hospital in Boston.

The department says that while serious, the boy's injuries were not considered life threatening.

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Hope the kid's OK. I'm mystified by this story though.

Canton FD arrives at 4:20 and decides to order a helicopter at some point. The Globe has Procopio from MSP saying that the helicopter landed at 5:13. At Meditech, which is not particularly close to the skiing area, meaning that the boy was either carried, wheeled or driven there. Had they already loaded him into an ambulance? Because Google Maps gives me a 25-minute travel time from Blue Hills to Children's, a little longer if I take Blue Hill Ave. instead of 93, but still under 30 minutes, and my car doesn't have flashing lights and a siren. The injuries were reported as serious but not life threatening. What would make a helicopter flight from that distance and with that prognosis an appropriate choice? Did someone just have some frequent flyer helicopter points that were about to expire? Trying not to second guess here, I honestly don't know and would love to learn. But I really really hope the kid's parents aren't on the hook for that bill.

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Second-guessing first responders, while also having no first-hand knowledge of the situation - always a classy move.

I mean how could armchair quarterbacking their decision making process, as it pertains to transporting a patient, go wrong?!?

If Google says it's 25 minutes, it's 25 minutes...I don't care if it is rush hour in Boston, goddamn it.

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The Globe story says "Canton police and State Police helped secure an area on Blue Hill River Road, where the helicopter landed at 5:13 p.m. and then flew to Boston Children’s Hospital, according to Doody."

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Meditech is 1 kilometer from the slope.

EDIT: Meditech is on Blue Hill River Road

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Hope the kid has a full, speedy recovery, and is okay.

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Boston Medflight covers most of the calls in this area. Unlike a lot of the air ambulance companies out there, they're a 501C3 that originally grew out of a consortium formed by the big hospitals here. I get the sense they're one of the better operators in what is one of the surprisingly shady corners of the aviation industry.

They've also been worked really hard this past year. Where I live I have a clear view of the approach to NEMC and I used to see them come in a few times a week. Since April last year it isn't unusual to see them 2-3x daily. That is a lot of wear and tear on some very expensive equipment and people.

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The injuries were reported as serious but not life threatening. What would make a helicopter flight from that distance and with that prognosis an appropriate choice?

I'd suspect that
(a) initial reports of a 35-foot vertical fall to hard ground below and initial descriptions of very serious injuries (and all the possibilities that entails (fractures, concussion, spinal damage)) that would be in the first 911 calls warrant activating medflight from the beginning instead of waiting for EMTs to get there and evaluate if medflight is appropriate. If the case is that critical, you don't want to lose those first few minutes.
- and -
(b) injuries turned out to be quite serious even though they weren't life-threatening. Even if medflight wasn't needed for speed to save the kid's life, once they're out anyway I'd bet it's a smoother ride for painful injuries like that than every turn, bump, start & stop of 11 miles in the back of an ambulance

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Yup.

A 35 foot fall is a serious traumatic injury. In situations like that, you aren't just treating a patient for their apparent injuries but you are treating them based on the mechanism of injury. We know what sorts of serious internal injuries can occur from that trauma, and we know that it is often not apparent from the outside that these injuries exist; that's the sort of stuff you'll find out in a hospital that can run medical imaging and diagnostic tests.

It also occurred somewhere along a ski slope; I haven't seen a report (I haven't looked too hard) that indicated how far up the hill they were. But if it were anywhere but the start of the chair lift, there is a lag in time between the ski patrol or any medical aid reaching the patient, and then you need to extricate them from the ski slope down to the ground to be transported.

There's a process by which you can even get Boston Medflight to send a helicopter. Canton Fire is the EMS for the town, so they would have made the call. If they made the call to BMF upon receiving the 911 call that they had a 7 year old with a 35 foot fall onto a ski slope, and one of the helicopters was readily available, the helicopter could have been on the ground before the patient was even down to ground level and packaged for transport. The same thing can happen with car crashes that have patients entrapped, if it's going to take a long time to extricate them, the Medflight crew can be there waiting to transport. In fact, if they have time, they'll often pickup the crew from the landing zone and bring them to the patient to begin treating then.

We have excellent EMS in the state, but Medflight provides an even higher level of care because trauma and critical care transports are their business. They even have ground based ambulances that are crewed to a higher level than an ambulance staffed with paramedics. All of their crews include a critical care nurse and a critical care paramedic. There's very few other EMS crews around that include a CC nurse in their regular staffing.

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A 35 foot fall is assumed to be potentially fatal and treated as such.

Then you get the kid to the hospital and find out on a scan that its bad but he's going to live.

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Thanks for all the extremely informative comments back, all. Best comment section north of the Blue Hills.

Story for another day is the time we brought a screaming 3 year old to Children's for x-rays on a possibly broken arm. Cried and sobbed non-stop for hours until someone came in with a balloon for him. He lit up, grabbed the balloon with the "injured" arm, and we went home.

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Traffic

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Have you ever been transported by ambulance?

I'm guessing no. The thing sways like crazy and you feel every bump. It is extremely uncomfortable. The kid fell a good distance, so the potential for broken bones/paralysis is there. If he had broken bones, (which he probably did) it would be excruciating for the child.

Frequent flyer helicopter points about to expire? Yeah, sure, happens all the time....

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feel every bump

Yeah, especially when the adrenaline has worn off and the injury is using up every last erg of your pain tolerance.
My Mom had a fall and broken leg a couple of years ago. ER was torture by the time they processed her - she felt every little floor seam as the gurney took her to radiology, and even the starts & stops of the height adjustment on the scanner bed were jolting adventures in pain.

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We were just getting going up the slope and I only fell about 10-15'
I was also fortunate to fall into a snowdrift.

I was about 7 or 8 and laughing the entire time while my parents watched in horror. I thought it was fun. I was at an age where everything was an adventure and I didn't really think I could get seriously hurt.

This poor kid fell 35' and I believe it's rock under the lift, not snow. :( Hope he gets patched up. Kids have an amazing capacity to heal bones, I'm wishing the best for him. And yes, good job on heli ride to help!

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25-30 min drive in light (Pandemic + reverse commute) traffic. Subtract for emergency lights, but a fender-bender or other problem along the route is a huge wildcard.

I hope the kid is ok.

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Man, that's a long fall, hope the kid is OK.

Stuff like this is a real kick in the gut. Someone is out having fun, having a blast, then gets seriously hurt. Years ago, I saw the aftermath of a horrible skier crash in VT. I'll spare you the details, but I read later that the skier had died. I did some serious thinking after that.

Hope the kid is OK.

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35 feet is like falling out of a 3rd or 4th floor window.

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How much is the charge for a medivac flight?

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Wow. Hope they find out what happened, so it can be prevented in the future.

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Was the 7-year-old being supervised?

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So, any details on the cause of the fall?

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Once they are on the chair safely, kids fall out of chairlifts because:
1. they're screwing around
2. they're fidgeting
3. bar isn't down

I can't think of any way this could be blamed on anybody other than the kid, but I'm open to suggestions. Once he's on, it's up to him to stay on. Now, that could be asking a lot of a 7-year-old which is why a liftie will often ask someone in line to join the kid(s). I love riding up with little kids, they can be a trip.

Again, I hope he's OK.

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