Since summertime, Sunday River Resort has been planning ahead to handle inevitable skiing injuries this season, especially now that Maine is hitting record COVID-19 hospitalizations.
As of Wednesday, skiers had been back on trails at the Newry ski area for roughly a week, with Maine hitting a new high of more than 310 COVID-related hospitalizations and a new ICU record in excess of 100 the same day, causing a statewide strain on hospital space.
"This year is a little bit different, just looking at the hospitals and the hospital beds available," said Karolyn Castaldo, director of communications for Sunday River Resort.
Castaldo explained that the ski area had added resources, many of them on-site, in the event that someone who is injured or has a medical event cannot be taken to a hospital farther away than is typical because of capacity limitations.
"We have an additional care facility here at South Ridge Lodge, we're able to care for a few more patients in-house," she said. "We also have more patrollers with medical certifications on the hill this year so they can address smaller issues."
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Those patrollers are working alongside routinely staffed on-site physician assistants, nurse practitioners and X-ray technicians from Sunday River's partner, Western Maine Health.
For people who may need off-site care Sunday River has traditionally partnered with "local ambulance services" in order to have "sufficient ambulances either on-site or within 10 minutes of the resort."
However, for the 2021-2022 season, the ski area is "broadening the scope" of how many ambulance groups its partnering with "in case we do need to send one a little further afield."
Skiers NECN and NBC10 Boston spoke to on Wednesday said they were happy to hear about the changes.
"It's nice to know we're out here and it's safer," said Josh Luther of Boston's Roslindale neighborhood.
"It makes me feel good. I'm a nurse, the more we can do, the better off we are," said Sandy Mayer of South Paris, Maine.
The increased resources are expected to remain in place for the entire duration of Sunday River's 2021-2022 season.