#4: WHAT'S IN SAFETY GERRY'S TRUNK?
Written by Lyndon Froese // Artwork by Seth Heinrichs
A musician’s interest goes far beyond music itself. They love music, of course, but they can also be found staring at the shapes of guitars and other tools. They binge-read biographies of the heroes of the artform. They pour over the inner-workings of music theory. They have convictions about the importance of music in the world that may seem nonsensical to the rest of us.
As a musician absorbs themself in their craft, so too does Gerry Ski Patrol have his devotion: He has a passion for safety.
Everyone just kind of assumed that someone must have given Gerry Ski Patrol permission to take up residence in the unused building next to the ski chalet. One day the cabin was the vacated home of the Falcon Ski Club and the next, a “Ski Patrol Headquarters” sign was hanging on the door of Gerry’s new home.
Gerry Ski Patrol and his lady friend Andrea are on duty every day the slopes are open, ready to provide first aid. They’re volunteers, but they don’t need to be scheduled. They’ll be there. For eleven years they’ve been there.
Gerry and Andrea purchase supplies on their own accord with funds out of their pockets or with cash from bringing empties to the beer vendor. New equipment is always popping up without announcement: defibrillators, oxygen tanks, an eye-washing station, a firefighter axe, ropes...
The other day Brooke, the youngest Christie sister, noticed the latest addition: a pair of helmets at Gerry Ski Patrol’s First Aid Station in the chalet. They were blue hardhats with white ambulance crosses. Flashlights were mounted to their sides. Brooke didn’t know what the helmets were for and still doesn’t, but then again, few people put as much thought and care into safety as Gerry.
Just have a look at some of the things Gerry Ski Patrol keeps in the trunk of his very important-looking matte-black SUV, featuring a row of antennae shaped like a pickerel’s dorsal fin.
First aid kit (red, 1)
Trauma bag (red, 1)
Firefighter jacket and helmet (yellow, 1 each)
Traffic cones and wands (orange, 4)
Flares (multi-colour, 5)
Blankets (gray, 3)
Traffic warning light (1)
Winter survival kit (white, 1)
Survival food pack (1)
Caution tape (yellow, 3 rolls)
Reflective vests (orange, 4)
Winter gloves and boots (2 sets each)
Extra socks, toques and neck-warmers (2 sets each)
Tow cable (1)
Booster cables (1 set)
Compass (black, 1)
Whistle (white, 1)
Fire-starting kit (red, 1)
Shovel (blue, 1)
Air compressor (green, 1)
“If you have all this in your car, nothing will ever happen to you,” Gerry says, “but the day you take it out will be the day you need it.”
Plus, he says it still leaves almost a quarter of the trunk open for other things.
One winter’s day, Brooke’s friends from the city slid into the ditch off the little road to the ski hill. They were not prepared to get the car back on the road. They had no shovel, no nothing! Fortunately, a friendly man happened upon them there in the woods. He pulled over and assessed the situation. He handed out high-visibility vests, instructed the friends to set out pylons around the car and told them to walk down the road with some warning lights. The man was Gerry Ski Patrol and he got to work.
Gerry has been interested in safety since he was a boy, since one particular day. He was in Winnipeg, walking on the sidewalk with his father when without warning, his dad had a heart attack.
“He dropped dead on the asphalt,” Gerry says.
If it weren’t for the skilled paramedics who revived his father, he would have remained dead on the asphalt. That day Gerry awoke to his calling.
“Wherever I am, people seem to be collapsing or dropping dead for some reason,” he says. Accordingly, attached to Gerry’s key ring is a CPR mask and CPR gloves, rolled up into a neat little carrying case.
Andrea and Gerry Ski Patrol’s identifying t-shirts read: “PARAMEDIC: First person you’ll see after you say Hold my beer while I try this.” They think it’s funny. Sort of. Gerry and Andrea know it to be true from their experience working in ambulances. Gerry has worked other safety-related professions too. For a time he was even a celebrity bodyguard.
Out of a pure devotion to his craft, Gerry has attended two safety conferences the very month I write this. Rumour has it the other day Gerry even bought a fire truck. That’s next-level passion.
Gerry and Andrea’s dog choice suits: She’s a trained avalanche rescue dog named Teejay.
“That dog might die of boredom,” Gerry said. The dog lives at a ski hill in Manitoba. But that doesn’t mean Teejay’s search and rescue skills don’t come in handy. Gerry demonstrated.
“Teejay, go find Andrea.”
The dog took off and barked when she’d found her.
“See,” Gerry said, “I never have to go look.”
Gerry tries to love all the safety sayings equally, but if pushed, he’ll pick It’s only fun until someone loses an eye. Apparently one time some guy up north got his eye poked out by a tree branch while performing a search and rescue operation.
“That’s why I wear goggles.”
Thanks Gerry and Andrea Ski Patrol for your diligence and skill over the years, making up for the rest of us who fail so hard.