Ah, the sounds of winter | SierraSun.com

Ah, the sounds of winter

Photo by Josh Miller/Sierra Sun Serge Pashenkov spends Christmas Eve in Tahoe Forest Hospital, preparing to be released after a two-day stay. Pashenkov, a resident of Redwood City, was treated for a broken tibia and fibula he got while skiing at Squaw Valley U.S.A.

Nothing can destroy a ski vacation in Tahoe like a broken leg. Just ask Serge Pashenkov.The Redwood City resident had his six-day vacation cut short when he slid on an icy slope at Squaw Valley, slammed into a tree and broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg.”I guess that I’m very lucky that I managed to hit the tree with my leg and not my head,” said Pashenkov, who was beginning his long recovery at home on Tuesday. “Judging by the damage on my leg, if I would have hit my head, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.”Pashenkov, an experienced skier of 30 years, crashed halfway through the third day of his vacation. He spent the next two days in the hospital, and left Truckee one day early with his family.

The sounds of the snaps, crackles and pops of bones on the icy slopes over the holiday were not uncommon, making this one of the busier times on record for medical emergency workers in Truckee.Over the Christmas holiday, the Tahoe Forest Hospital emergency room saw 80 to 100 patients per day – most but not all were there due to sports injuries – according to hospital spokeswoman Paige Nebeker.”This is the busiest time for our hospitals,” Nebeker said.Because they were so busy, Tahoe Forest ER staff was not able to provide specific numbers of patients they treated. However, on an average holiday weekend, the ER will see 50 to 80 patients.The number of patients with ski injuries taken to Tahoe Forest’s emergency room has decreased over the past year thanks to first-aid clinics at resorts like Northstar-at-Tahoe and Squaw, said Nebeker.

At the Northstar sports clinic on Monday afternoon, the patients were 10 deep with a variety of injuries. Over the weekend, the clinic was the busiest it has ever been in its one-year history, said nurse Tonya Peschke, who worked the entire holiday.”Basically [there were so many injuries] from people not knowing how to ski or snowboard – from not taking lessons and just going out there – or people not being careful and running into each other,” Peschke said.Roughly 90 percent of the injured were snowboarders, she estimated, many of whom got shoulder injuries in the terrain park.The Northstar sports clinic has a doctor, nurse and X-ray technician on duty while the mountain is open. They offer, among other things, x-rays, stitches, medication and casting.

Pescke’s advice for snow-sport enthusiasts?”As someone who has been a snowboarder and skier up here for a long time, my advice would be wear a helmet and be alert of other people.”CHECK IT OUTThe Tahoe Forest Hospital Pharmacy sells ski helmets at a discounted rate. For more information, stop by the pharmacy on the bottom floor of the Medical Office Building at 10956 Donner Pass Road or call 587-7607.

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