STOPS Cut Suit — Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey World Cup downhill


by Paddy O’Connell, photo by Dominique Taylor 

The radio squawks and your heart is a 10-pound sledgehammer. A racer on Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey World Cup downhill course compressed awkwardly at 67 miles per hour and tomahawked through the orange safety fencing. You arrive to bloodstained snow. A femur bone—splintered like a broomstick—protrudes from the skier’s right thigh. Blood garden hoses from the wound. The patient screams in agony. His femoral artery is severed. He will die in less than five minutes if you can’t stop the bleeding. It’s all up to you.

OK, breathe. This is only a drill. The skier is a med student from Rocky Mountain Vista University School of Medicine (RMVU) wearing a Strategic Operations’ Cut Suit, a hyper realistic field surgical simulator. Even the fake blood looks, feels, and smells authentic. Another med student remotely squirts liter after liter of fake blood out of the prosthetic wound. This is the most intense of the five on-mountain training scenarios Dr. Larry Gaul, United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Tony LaPorta, professor of surgery at RMVU, are using to train 70 World Cup volunteer doctors in emergency medical procedures at a Beaver Creek seminar.

USSA has employed the Cut Suit for the last five years, to recreate World Cup injuries. The compound femur scenario comes from Aksel Svindal’s 2007 Beaver Creek crash, which nearly cost him his leg and career. The quick response of the medical staff saved Svindal. The context, and the realism of the Cut Suit produces the emotional, psychological, and physiological reactions physicians experience in a crash like Svindal’s—and force them to fight through them. “The Cut Suit creates that same stress,” says Kit Lavell, Executive Vice President of Strategic Operations. “The body engages the fight or flight response. Participants exhibit the same real life response to trauma: tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, loss of fine motor skills.”

The goal isn’t to eliminate those stressors. Performing while a patient is bleeding to death is inherently stressful. But, says Lavell, with training, you can perform better under pressure.

Back in real time, blood is sprinkling the snowpack. You drop next to the shrieking skier, ask his name, tell him who you are, and that you’re here to help. Your chest swells with quick, short breaths. Your hands shake as you pull on blue latex gloves. But you’re in the zone when the cuff snaps on your wrist. The racer’s head jerks back and he bellows as you dig your left knee into his hip crease and put pressure on the laceration with your right hand. The warm, quick flow of blood pulses through your fingers at first, but slows as you weight your knee. A toboggan with a full medical kit and tourniquet is on the way. You are the first responder at a World Cup—and you just saved a skier’s life.

From the Deep Winter issue.

Independent Duty Corpsman – More Sweat, Less Blood (SWMI Training at STRATOPS)

Video Courtesy of All Hands Magazine

Independent Duty Corpsman – More Sweat, Less Blood

RPGs fly overhead, an AK rattles off shots down the street, a Sailor screams…he's hit– STRATOPS takes Independent Duty Corpsman training to a new level. #SanDiego SWMIVideo by: Austin Rooney, All Hands Magazine

Posted by All Hands Magazine on Thursday, February 16, 2017

‘Cut suits’ give a slice of realism to training

“Cut Suit” makes drill frighteningly realistic

Cut Suit Demonstration

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Mannequins are often used for training in disaster preparedness drills, but Palomar College has acquired an advanced piece of equipment that creates an extremely realistic simulation of great bodily injuries. CBS News 8’s Shawn Styles has the details in this video report.

Local Restaurant Featured in Iconic Movie (Top Gun) to Celebrate the 30th Anniversary | Kit Lavell Interview

Top Gun 30th Anniversary

A classic 1980s movie that featured scenes filmed inside a San Diego restaurant is turning 30 next week and anniversary celebrations have already kicked off.

“Top Gun” was released on May 16, 1986, featuring Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in leading roles.

The last scene in “Top Gun” was filmed at the Kansas City Barbeque, in which Marverick, played by Cruise and Charlie (McGillis) reunite.

Kansas City Barbeque opened 33 years ago in downtown San Diego on W. Harbor Drive near Kettner Boulevard. Since being featured in the film, it has become an iconic landmark in America’s Finest City.

Celebrations for the movie and restaurant’s anniversary began Monday and will continue through May 19.

The restaurant will host a screening of “Top Gun,” and the celebration will feature food and drink specials, plus merchandise for sale for fans, including shirts and challenge coins commemorating the 30th anniversary of the movie.

Strategic Operations Hosts Active Shooter Drills

STOPS Active Shooter Drills

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Members of San Diego’s medical community are now better prepared to respond to active shooter and other trauma casualties, after a unique training.

Medical students, along with ER residents and staff from Balboa Naval Hospital and UC San Diego Medical Center participated in a series of life or death scenarios involving active shooters, overturned cars and IED’s last week.

They performed hyper-realistic drills with real firefighters, paramedics and police at Strategic Operations on the back lot of Stu Segall Productions, which is a TV and movie studio in San Diego.

“There’s not a lot of opportunities to practice live active shooter scenarios in a very realistic setting,” said Kit Lavell with Strategic Operations. “You make your mistakes in the training environment here that’s hyper-realistic, so your first experience in the real world should be no worse than in the last training you did in a hyper-realistic environment. That’s what saves lives.”

Don’t miss Marcella Lee’s special report Monday, May 9 on CBS News 8 at 11PM on surviving an active shooter situation. The FBI will share what you should do to best protect yourself and your family. Click here for the story.