Off-Duty EMT Rescuer Spends Day Keeping Skier Alive After Avalanche

An EMT continued his heroic work into his day off, when during a ski trip he located a man buried by an avalanche, dug him out, and spent 8 hours by his side on the mountain waiting for search and rescue.

Wild amounts of Utah snowing last week left the slopes in Neffs Canyon ripe for an avalanche. Experienced backcountry skier Travis Haussener took it “one tiny step too far” by passing through a loose snow pack and triggering one.

Hearing the “Wumpf,” he realized he was probably a goner. After it overtook him he was buried entirely but for a single arm, breaking his femur and hurting his arm in the process.

After about 45 minutes of pain, digging, and shouting for help, an EMT with the Unified Fire Authority, passing by on his own skiing trip, heard his cries for help.

The as-yet unidentified EMT called search and rescue, but weather conditions prevented a helicopter from getting there. Equipment issues caused further delays, and it wasn’t until 7pm—8 hours later, that they got Haussner off the mountain.

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Speaking of the EMT, Michael Finger, a squad leader with Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue called him a hero.

“I mean the guy’s a hero, it’s incredible, went skiing, it’s his day off, and he spent his whole day up there with this poor guy,” said Finger.

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“He was off-duty, just out enjoying some recreation time when he spotted someone in trouble and responded and has been up there all day and the reality is he could have come down at any point,” added Sgt. Melody Cutler with Unified Police Department.

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