Hi my name is Isaac West, I am 20 years old and this is a story about my life changing collision. On the 3rd of July 2021 I was skiing with my dad Carey at Mt Hutt Ski field. Unaware, feeling like most young men, 10ft tall and bulletproof, I was unprepared for what the universe had installed for me.
I became semi-unconscious after flying 15 meters through the air and plunging onto the ice floor. Feeling disorientated whilst simultaneously adrenaline pumped. An excruciating pain punished through my leg. I knew something was very wrong. However in the moment my mind was not willing to be honest about the magnitude of the injury I had just sustained. A snowboarder called Tracy and her father ran up to me as no one was near me at the moment of my crash. The first heroes of this story.
Using my ski poles, they waved down Ski patrol on the lift and within 15 minutes I was transferred to a Ski-mobile and taken to the medical clinic. My dad figured something wasn’t right as I had gone missing in his situation and made it to the clinic also. To find me gaining and losing consciousness.
James and his patrol team were the second lot of heroes on this day for me. At this point the damage of my leg was visible; it was severed off and hanging on only by a piece of calf muscle. Little did I know that I had a compound fracture in my tibia and fibula. Which resulted in completely destroying an artery that led to considerable blood loss. An educated decision was made from the ski patrol to tourniquet my leg. I was told later that if the tourniquet was too tight I would have lost my leg. Too loose and I would have bled out. When the Westpac guys rolled in my dad told me this intangible presence of professionalism came over the room. They were calm, sharp and precise. I was swiftly flown off the mountain after what had been an unlucky, lucky occurrence of events.
In surgery for just over 8 hours I woke up with a popsicle which seemed pretty sweet, still not absorbing what had just happened to me. I was put in the high dependency ward where some incredible nurses looked after me. I was given copious amounts of blood to remain stable. I woke up with two legs, but was informed about the measures taken to be alive, let alone alive with two working legs. The nurse could feel the faintest pulse In my big toe which was a miracle. The doctor said that the ski team put the tourniquet on perfectly for the best chance to save my leg. Another stroke of luck was that my nerve line was still attached to the piece of calf muscle that held onto the rest of my leg.
The cohesion of the Westpac crew, the surgeons, and the nurses were the third lot of heroes in my story. I guess some fortunate things occurred for me to walk on two feet again. But ultimately I believe the people from the moment I crashed were the reason I have a second chance today.
I became good friends with Tracy, the lady who found me originally. She told me the next week she quit her job and joined the Military fire service. As what happened changed her life too. Which brings me to the reason why I wanted to tell this story. I thought this is an opportunity to thank all the people that saved my life and my leg. Sharing my story is a way to help give back to the service.