Johnny A. Solbu

Ambulance helicopter pilots are just amazing

Posted February 10, 2018 by Solbu in Accidents (skiing, accidents)

On monday february 5, 2018 me and 2 friends where out skiing, which ended with me being evacuated by helicopter.

Last monday I suffered from a hard fall while cross country skiing. We where attempting to go down a 10 to 15 meter short, but really steap hill (some 30 to 50 feet), which had maybe a 3, 4 meter (10 to 13 feet) altitude difference. I ended up flat on the ground on the bottom of the hill with enormous pain in both of my arms near the shoulders with so much pain that I had a hard time trying to do anything but scream reall loud. The right arm was hurting more than the left. I have never screamed so much as I did on that day. My first thought was that I should not move right away. I learned quite some time ago that disorientation and adrenaline can hide pain and damages. So first I needed to know if I was ok. It quickly turned outh that I most definately was not ok.

At first I started swearing, due to the pain. Then I started calling upon the Lord by talking in tounges. (Swearing is still a problem for me in certain situations. Usually it is dead objects that may really get to me. I never swear or curse at someone.)

After a few minutes my friends called the emergency to check if it was ok to move me in any way, which I flat out resisted. They were concerned that I would get cold lying in the snow. So they initially asked if they should try and help me up. So I suggested that we did it in steps by getting me on my knees, in case standing was not a good idea. So they slowly and gently started lifting me straight up. After a few centimeters the pain in my right arm just «exploded» to a stronger level, so the attempt was aborted. However the atttempt also resulted in my left arm moving a little, and the pain in the left arm went away like a poof. Looking back now, I think the dislocated left shoulder must have popped back into place. So I could start to use it, and help pointing out where the pain in the right arm was.

After some talking the emergency center ended up dispatching a medical helicopter to us. By that time it occured to me that my two friends needed my car keys, so they could get down from the mountain. Using my left arm I managed to get hold of the car key set from the left pocket in my pants, abd said that I trusted them to take care of the car.

Soon the helicopter came. One of my friends was just next to me covering me when trying to shield me from the downdraft of the main propeller, because helicopters evidentially create a local storm wherever they land. I noticed she was carefull not to actually lay on me, so as to not make the damage worse than it is. In this case a snow storm was blowing our skis and other stuff off in all directions. She told me later she had taking off alot of her clothes to keep me warm. So sitting there waiting for the helicopter to land was freezing cold for her. The coldest wind ever she’d say. «hope they are landing… soon»

It was a tight location to land on. In a tiny valley surrounded by trees. When we got to the hospital, which was 5 minutes flying time away, they said that it was indeed the tightest landing they had ever done. The landing zone was just a little bit wider than the main propeller, and I was lying right in the middle of where they needed to land. She thought maybe that they would land about two-three meters away from us. She thought that the length of the valley was good enough for that. But finally when we turned to look at the helicopter, to our big surprise it was right there. Like just right behind her. At most 50cm (some 20 inches) from her feet! So yeah, really skilled these ambulance pilots.

I got safely into the helicopter. Luckily they found out that there was only a small fracture, but combined with a shoulder dislocation that hurts a lot. In the hospital the helicopter team said that the hill I fell in was a nasty hill, and that they might expect a few more calls due to that one.

So now I have to take it easy for about 6 weeks, so currently I am on sick leave having only one hand to use at the moment.

It ended as an exciting memory for all of us, one that we will not soon forget.


I need to thank my two friends who did their absolute best to take care of me.

You tried to comfort me while I was screaming loudly and resisted any attempts from you to move me. You endured my many painfull screams and initial swearing, and I was probably a pain to work with. It was really comforting knowing that you two took charge of the situation and alerted the emergency service.

When I get well enough and both of you are back in town I will make it up to you, try to show my gratitude somehow.

A lot of this text is written by Åshild Samseth, one of those skiing with me. (You can read the original on her public facebook page) It is edited to reflect both her and my perspective, and I have added a few things. I've chosen to ask her to use her text as I can only use one hand at the moment, so it's faster to produce a good text in a timely maner.