Thomas Wayne Posted May 14, 2008 Share Posted May 14, 2008 Brett YagerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s death was preventable. Several years ago we watched an episode of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œImpact: Stories of SurvivalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â onthe Discovery Health Channel that featured the story of a 17 year old girl whowas injured while jumping in a tournament in Illinois. As that story reported,she fell forward (ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œout-the-frontÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â) upon landing and her head plunged throughthe opening of the handle, causing a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œhanging-likeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â injury. Her trachea wassevered internally and the show went on to reenact how her life was savedthrough medical intervention. Since first seeing it, that episode has re-airedseveral times and will re-air on the Discover Health Channel on May 27 and alsoJune 1 of this year(http://health.discovery.com/tv-schedules/series.html?paid=62.10307.105905.26110.x) After I saw that show I started thinking about how the ski handle could beredesigned to prevent such an occurrence, and I drew up the first of severalideas on my computer. That horrific accident, however, had occurred duringwaterski jumping, and I hadnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t personally been off a jump in over 15 years, soafter a while I lost interest in the issue. My original designs just sat on myhard drive and I kind of forgot the whole thing for a while. In 2004, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œCarlÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â started a thread on the old Nicholls forum describing anaccident he had experienced where his arm went through the handle during a falland he suffered some serious soft tissue injuries(http://eclipse.nicholls.edu/cgi-bin/BBS/webbbs_archive.pl?noframes;read=3554). Within the thread there are a number of responses that mention similarinjuries, and propose some possible solutions. That thread caused me to revisitmy earlier designs and ponder the solution some more, but because the issuehadnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t yet touched me directly I again let it go dormant. In early July of 2006, a Pennsylvania state trooper died while waterskiing ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“a preliminary report stating that the handle ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œhit him in the headÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â can be foundhere: http://www.wnep.com/Global/story.asp?S=3553483 , but it was laterdetermined that he was actually killed when [presumably] his face or headentered the bridle during a fall, breaking his neck and causing him to drown. After this horrific accident I took the time to machine parts for myoriginal design and showed it to some of my ski buddies, but - ironically ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ IdidnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t bother to modify our handles. I say this is ironic because on July 30,2006 I fell while waterskiing and inadvertently thrust my left arm through thehandle section, severely breaking the arm and causing injuries from which I amstill recovering. As soon as I got out of the hospital in August 2006 I installed my device onhandles at my ski site and we began the process of testing and refining thedesign. To date this device has been used extensively in Alaska at a number ofdifferent ski sites by many skiers and on many different handle configurations.All skiers who ski on my lake use it as a matter of principle. The device hasalso been tested (somewhat secretly) in Florida and California. It is currentlyPatent Pending, and we originally had intended to release it later this summer.But now the tragic and untimely death of Brett Yager has greatly acceleratedthe need for awareness of the extreme danger posed to all skiers by theubiquitous handle design that we have used since the sport began. Many years ago, Fine Woodworking Magazine conducted a study regarding therelationship between power tools and hand injuries. They arrived at someinteresting conclusions; apparently the power tool responsible for the greatestnumber of injuries is the table saw ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ simply because virtually ALL woodworkersown and use one. However the power tool responsible for the WORST injuries isthe radial-arm saw. Injuries incurred with a radial-arm saw are much moreinfrequent, but when the DO happen they are almost always catastrophic,resulting in at least the amputation of a finger (or fingers) up to the loss ofan entire hand! The ski handle is ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œour radial-arm sawÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â; injuries involving it are rare, butwhen they do happen they are almost always serious, often devastating, andoccasionally fatal. What may be most important to note, however, is that theyare not as rare as you might think. Many, many skiers have experiencedaccidents similar to mine, and some of them are names that you may recognize. For example, Todd Ristorcelli ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ editor of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWater SkiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â magazine ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ has writtenabout being dragged down the lake with his arm caught in the handle. ScottRabineau has done it TWICE (!), and according to what he told me, the secondtime he had to have his entire bicep surgically removed. Marcus Brown told meof a similar incident where he got hung up in the handle. In fact, according tosafety studies in California, an average of a dozen or so skiers are injuredevery year in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œbody part through handleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â accidents ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ and remember, those had tobe accidents serious enough to be reported! At the Tenth International Symposium on Skiing Trauma & Safety held atZell am See, Austria, May 17-21, 1993, the presenters concluded: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œInteractionwith the towrope is a common cause of water-skiing injuries. If a skier engagesa limb in the towrope during a fall, severe injury can occur while beingdragged through the water at high speed.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â In fact, such accidents are mentioned in virtually every safety study IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢vefound that references water skiing. So the danger, while rare, is not asuncommon as you might think. If you donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t know someone it has happened to, youalmost certainly know someone who does know someone it has happened to. But nomatter how infrequently it may occur, if it happens to YOU it might as well be100%. In the next several posts IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll detail the device weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve created, along withsome other available alternatives. 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