Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Snow Skiing Accident in West Virginia Monday

  I was in a ski accident Monday morning Feb. 6, 2012 at Snowshoe Mt. Resort, in WV.  I had been saving for this trip and looking forward to it for months.  It was kind of a Christmas/Birthday gift from my wife, and I took a young father from my church, Scott Dicke, one of our trustees, as he loves snow skiing also and had never ski'd outside of Ohio before. Monday was Scott's birthday, so this was his birthday present from his wife.   I wanted him to experience one of the best in the East, and Coletta INSISTED that I take another guy with me "in case something would happen."

I had a new goose down black ski jacket, a new bright green florescent shell wind breaker, new gloves that matched my helmet and I was ready to take on the "Double Black Diamonds!"   My first skiing for this winter, and Scott wanted to start out on the beginner slopes until he got warmed up.   That was fine with me, cos the beginner slopes at Snowshoe are long and beautiful and have some pitch to them also.

We were both acting like Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed as we were strapping our helmets on and shoving our gloves on at my mini-van.  Temps just under freezing and the sun was bouncing off the granulated snow.  We beat most people to the chair lift, did a few stretches, and snapped our boots into our skis.  Scott asked me to lead the way, because he didn't know which slope to start with.

We took two long runs and had a blast.  At Snowshoe, one major difference is that you start at the top where the lodge's, restaurants and shops are, you park up on the top and then ski down to a mountain lake.  THEN, you ride the chair lift back up where all the cars and stores are. 

On our third run down a beginner slope, it was pretty steep to start out with, so I let the "steep" gravitate me to a high speed and then when the steep slope leveled, I hit a thick groove of granulated snow and instead of the ski's just crashing though the "ice snow,"  it caught my sky tip on my right ski, and as the ski's stayed, I went.

I rolled about three times and the impact was so hard I think I would have cracked my skull,  but thank the Lord, I wear a helmet.  Scott stopped beside me asking me if I was O. K. and I tried to get up, could not, and I said, no, I'm hurt.  I thought my back was broke.  I asked Scott, my friend from our church to stick my ski's uphill from my body in the snow making a cross with the ski tips pointing upward towards the ski and holler for help.

The ski patrol took me on a board sled to  a chair lift and hauled me up to the top of the mountain in a mummy sled strapped to a straight board with my neck in a brace.  An Ambulance took me to Pocahontas Memorial hospital in Buckeye, WV.

The E.R. staff pulled my outer clothes off of me and started doing all the normal checks for ski injuries.  Monday, I had 2 E.K. G's and all total in this ordeal, I had three CAT Scans.  After nearly a day strapped to a hard board with a neck brace on, the E. R. staff at the Pocahontas Hospital gave me morphine and at the same time a nitroglycerin pad on my chest due to my severe back, chest and arm pains.  The E R. doc thought possibly my heart was bruised.

I started to pass out from the morphine and nitro, so E R did a "stat" and about 7 hospital staff people ran into the E. R. and started working on me like crazy with some real FEARFUL LOOKS.  Most "good Christians" would tell you they weren't afraid at all.   I will tell you the truth.  I was horrified!  But, I prayed to Jesus and asked Him to comfort me and give me peace.  I told him I was ready if he wanted me (but, I didn't want to go to heaven right then).  Jesus did give me peace!  

The E. R. Staff  were all being quiet, whispering and asking me some very serious questions.    My blood pressure dropped like an elevator going down to the basement and my heart rate also dropped rapidly.  Life Flight was called from W V University Medical Hospital Trauma Center.

A rain storm came and the chopper could not land at Pocahontas Hospital, so the Helicopter dispatcher asked ambulance to drive to Buckhannon Airport where the storm had not come yet and the skies were clear.  The ambulance took me on a 2 hour drive.  The chopper and medical flight team met us at the Buckhannon Airport and flew me on to Morgantown, WV.  I learned that I was being taken to the top trauma team in the state of West Virginia. 

They called in a Priority "One" from the chopper and after landing on the hospital roof, the Medi-flight nurses ran me into the Trauma E. R. due to possible heart trouble and the allergic reaction I had to the morphine and nitro.  The next morning, the Trauma Center chaplain and the main Trauma doctor of the hospital both explained to me that when they get a "P-One" on their communication radios from a chopper that that means, "Move all the other patience out of the way and bring in your main trauma team now!"

I thank God for Scott Dicke for sacrificing your birthday ski trip to stay by my side through such a nightmare, and a wonderful church family and friends around the world praying for me. Someone asked me,  "When did you know you were going to be O. K."  And I said when my beautiful blue eyed "Coletta" walked into my hospital room!  Thanks also to Deacon Fabian Canales and his wife, Dolores from our church for driving my lovely wife to West Virginia to be with me, and the return trip back to Van Wert, Ohio.  Another huge blessing is that  I just learned yesterday that I had people in China and Africa praying for me.

However, of all of this,  probably the thing that has stirred my heart the most is that my brother, Johnny who has been a Medi-flight pilot in OK City, OK for years learned about my accident and already knew that the medical flight company that flew me is the same company Johnny flies for.   He has called me 4 times, then waited until my helicopter flight crew got back to their base airport in Buckhannon, WV.  and called them at 2:00 in the morning to thank them for flying his "little preacher brother" to help save my life.

I'm home now and getting better every day.  I can't say enough to thank you for praying for Coletta and me through all of this.  I'm closer to God now, and all my pastoral E. R. calls in the future will never be the same.  I also picked up several new sermon illustrations and have some good used ski equipment for sale.

I only broke two ribs right behind my collar bones, my chest, back and shoulders are very bruised, but, my head and neck are O K,  and PRAISE GOD,   my back is not broke.  

Thanks for your phone calls, Emails and prayers.

Love in Christ,

Jim Burns, Pastor
Liberty Baptist Church
Van Wert, OH

PS.  We have met our health insurance deductible!