Coronet Peak ambo transfers snowball


A bumper Queenstown winter season has meant more Coronet Peak ski bunnies being taken to hospital.

Figures from St John show a jump in injured people being transferred by the ambulance service over the last three winter seasons – 87 in 2013, 157 in 2014 and 181 in 2015.

Over the hill at Cardrona, transfers of injured boarders and skiers from the mountain rose from 136 last year to 167, while transfers from The Remarkables and Treble Cone are dropping.

The figures don’t relate to skiers and boarders treated onsite, only those transported by ambulance for further assessment.

NZSki considers the increase normal and in line with a boost to visitor numbers.

Coronet Peak boss Ross Copland says the figures were expected because of St John’s full-time presence on the mountain this year, and its additional resources.

“For the first time this year St John stationed a 4WD ambulance at each mountain, which was a big improvement on prior years where patients often had long wait times for the ambulance to come all the way from town.

“St John also moved to bulk funding [by ACC] as opposed to a funding per patient, which has probably influenced the way they operate.”

Copland says Lakes District Hospital isn’t under as much pressure because less severe cases are now treated at medical centres.

St John Queenstown station boss Keith Raymond says additional staff servicing the skifields made a difference.

“It was a very successful winter and we would look at replicating the same format in future years if funding allows.”

Copland points out that NZSki’s Queenstown operations remain below the national injury average - which sits at 3.46 injuries per 1000 skier visits.

This year NZSki outsourced its on-mountain medical services to Australian company Medical Rescue with a doctor, nurse and physiotherapist on-hand at all times.

Medical Rescue didn’t respond to interview requests.