Dog saves the day in cross-country skiing accident
February 2, 2010
For the paramedics, emergency room personnel and surgeons who responded to a cross-country skiing trauma in Park City a couple of weeks ago, one phrase has likely stayed in their minds: "That dog never left my side."
On Jan. 17, Miriam Broumas, a Park City resident and owner of the Gingerbread House on Deer Valley Drive, decided to try out her new cross-country skis on the Farm Loop near the McPolin Barn and St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
It was early on a Sunday morning, and Broumas found herself alone on the trail with her canine companion, an 11-year-old black Lab named Trout. The dog belongs to
Heather Edwards, one of Broumas’ neighbors.
Edwards is a doctor and often works the night shift, so Broumas has volunteered to be Trout’s designated dog-walker. The duo regularly trots along the Poison Creek Trail near City Park and Trout often lounges outside Starbucks, greeting visitors while Broumas enjoys her morning latte.
That morning as Broumas glided over the snow, Trout forged the trail a few yards ahead. Since it was before the recent series of snowstorms, the trail was unusually icy. "I didn’t realize what the snow conditions were like that morning," Broumas says.
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Around 8 a.m., she came careening around a corner on the portion of the trail farthest from the highway and lost control. "I started thinking, uh oh, aim for the powder, aim for the powder! I slammed really hard," she recalls.
The fall resulted in three broken vertebrae in her lower middle back and two fractures in her left arm. Immediately after the fall, all she could do was lie in the snow. "I was in excruciating pain," she says.
Luckily, Trout seemed to realize what had happened and immediately took a protective stance over his wounded friend.
Suddenly, he turned toward the trees on the mountain adjacent to the trail, the hair on his back bristling. He began circling Broumas, whining and licking close to her face. "He was not acting his normal self," she says. "His body language was definitely encouraging me to get up and come with him."
"I put two and two together and I was aware that I was in some kind of danger that I couldn’t see," Broumas says. Her first thought was that a mountain lion was lurking. "I started panicking," she says, knowing that if the cougar realized she was hurt, it might see her as prey. "I got that feeling that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Despite the pain in her arm and back, she wriggled over to her ski poles and used them to get her skis off. Then she struggled to her feet and planted one of her skis in the snow like a stake. "I wanted to look big," she says. She rested her broken arm on the ski and braced herself for the worst. "There was nothing out there that I could see, but Trout knew there was a threat."
At that point, Broumas saw a skate skier approaching from afar and knew help was about five minutes away. Trout had begun to calm down and she sensed that danger was no longer eminent.
She lay down in the snow and packed her broken arm in the powder. Once the skier arrived, Broumas was able to call Trout’s owner, who summoned an ambulance to the scene. Even as the paramedics loaded her onto a stretcher, Trout would not leave her.
Broumas was taken to Park City Medical Center for an X-ray and subsequently to a hospital in Salt Lake City for emergency surgery. Doctors inserted a steel rod and screws in her back, telling her that she was lucky she hadn’t been paralyzed.
She says that the whole time she was en route to medical care, she couldn’t stop repeating, "That dog never left my side."
Last Wednesday night, Broumas was reunited with Trout for the first time since her accident. When he entered the Rocky Mountain Care Clinic in Heber, the loyal pooch recognized Broumas immediately, and despite her wheelchair and body cast, he ran over to cover her face and body with loving doggy licks.
Broumas tearfully thanked Trout for saving her life. "He is the most incredible, loyal friend that I could ever have," she says.
Doctors tell Broumas that she is expected to fully recover, although they are unsure how long it will take. She is currently living at Rocky Mountain Care while she undergoes rehabilitation. "I look forward to going on walks with Trout again," she says.