Rescue chopper's busy time in the snowfields

This was not the first time two patients have been retrieved at the same time by the rescue helicopter, but Mr Decker said he didn't mind.

The 21-year-old from Minnesota was retrieved from Thredbo on Saturday and then transferred to Canberra Hospital for treatment.

"I was basically at the top of the 30 foot jump [roughly nine metres] and at the very lip I fell and hit the edge," Mr Decker explained.

"I remember excruciating pain, it was crazy.

"But then some guys from the snow [ski] patrol came over and helped me... they X-rayed my hip then and there.

"Before I knew it I was in the chopper."

The helicopter service's chief executive, Owen Finegan, said this snow season was busier than last year.

"Compared to last year's figures, we've had at least four more snow-related retrievals so far, with three being double-ups," Mr Finegan said.

"There have been 14 patients retrieved this snow season, with a large percentage of the injuries being fractures, three of those retrievals required us to transport more than one patient.

"Luckily, we have helipads at both ski resorts so retrieval and transfer doesn't take too long," Mr Finegan said.

"Also, the medical centres at the snowfields help keep our patients stable for the 20-minute flight to the hospital."

Mr Decker said he has been snowboarding since he was 15 and this was his first broken bone. He now has a rod holding his left leg in place, with two screws in his hip and two in his knee. A radiologist at Canberra Hospital, Ruth Magin, said that Mr Decker may be able to walk in six weeks, but full recovery would take up to six months.

Mr Decker said that the fracture had not put him off snowboarding.

"The funniest thing was when I called my mum," he laughed. "I told her, 'Mum you're gonna be so mad at me but...I've broken my leg and now I've gotta go!' "

Mr Decker will be discharged from hospital today.

On Sunday another two patients were picked up from the ski resorts, both with fractured legs – a 14-year-old boy from Thredbo and a 50-year-old woman from Perisher.

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