Intermountain Healthcare Seeing Increase In ER Visits Due To Snow-Related Injuries

Feb 18, 2021, 11:46 PM | Updated: Feb 19, 2021, 12:06 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With these past couple of snowstorms, doctors said emergency rooms have been busy and they’re reminding people to always think about safety while sledding or shoveling snow.

It’s part of winter’s soundtrack. Head to any hill covered with snow and chances are you’ll hear kids on their sleds and tubes having fun.

Like many 10-year-olds, Jake Bills loves sledding and feels the need for speed.

So, when his dad took him tubing last month in American Fork Canyon near Tibble Fork Reservoir, Bills saw a hill he knew right away he wanted to conquer.

“It was really steep and dangerous,” he said with the kind of look in his eye anyone with 10-year-old boys will understand.

However, that hill must’ve seemed like a mountain as Bills was flying down it one time and lost control.

“I hit a twig or a stick and started spinning out of control,” he said. “Then halfway down, I just blacked out. I just didn’t remember anything else.”

Bills hit his head on a rock and was rushed to a hospital.

“It was terrifying,” said his father K.C. Bills.

When Jake Bills’ mother arrived, doctors told her it was bad.

“They quickly explained to me that he had broken his head and showed me his skull, which was completely fractured in half,” said Stacy Bills.

Jake Bills also suffered a traumatic brain injury.

His case was severe, but representatives from hospitals along the Wasatch Front said they’ve seen a surge in snow-related accidents the past week with all the new snow from recent storms.

“I’ve taken care of many children who have been injured while sledding,” said Dr. David Hasleton, the senior director of trauma operations for Intermountain Healthcare.

He said hospitals have seen an increase in the number of emergency room visits from slip-and-fall accidents on the ice from people who were simply taking their garbage cans to the curb.

Hasleton also said he has seen more people with back strain injuries from shoveling snow.

He also warns trying to lift wet, heavy snow can lead to a heart attack in some people.

“We see lots of overexertion injuries, which can lead to other significant issues,” he said.

Sledding may seem innocent, but Hasleton wants people to be aware it can still be dangerous.

“I remember one that actually involved a significant head injury where there was a bleed inside the brain that required surgery,” said Hasleton. “Wearing a helmet while sledding will actually save you from many injuries that otherwise would’ve happened.”

Jake Bills wasn’t wearing a helmet on that day, and although he’s doing well now and will recover, his parents said he’ll be wearing one the next time they go sledding or tubing.

“The lesson is to wear a helmet,” said his father. “I never put my kids in helmets to go tubing. I never did that when I was growing up, wear a helmet, but I wish we would have.”

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Intermountain Healthcare Seeing Increase In ER Visits Due To Snow-Related Injuries