From Ski to Sea PNWU Students Treat Sprains and Pains

On Sunday, May 28, a group of PNWU medical students volunteered in the annual Ski to Sea event, held in Whatcom County, Washington. The medical students assisted participants with aches, pains and problems they encountered during the seven-sport race, which includes cross country skiing, downhill skiing/snowboarding, running, road biking, canoeing, cyclocross biking and sea kayaking. They also helped perform OMT on race participants and assisted with first aid. PNWU volunteers included Douglas Hayes (OMS IV) and Cassandra Czarnetzke (OMS IV). 

“We were able to treat a number of cross country skiers who has strained their backs during their event with OMT to help relieve some of their back pain,” said Hayes. “I was able to treat one of our local EMS members with OMT who recently strained his back while transporting a patient to the ambulance. We also provided triage for a mountain biker who likely fractured their 5th metacarpal during their event.”

Ski to Sea Photo Collage.jpgThe Ski to Sea race, which was first run in 1973, is held annually on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, with a course running through the towns of Glacier, Maple Falls, Kendall, Everson, Lynden and Ferndale, with a final finishing place at Marine Park in the historic Fairhaven District of Bellingham. Net profits from the event are donated to local 501(c)(3) charitable beneficiaries. In 2014 and 2015, the race netted $45,568 for local non-profits. 

“I’ve always loved being involved with the public, giving back to those around me, and balancing my education with outreach,” said Czarnetzke. “My education at PNWU has helped me to not only be confident in my didactic knowledge, but also to trust my “osteopathic hands,” and be comfortable working with and aiding others.”

A Bellingham resident since 2003, Hayes has personally seen the positive effects of the event on his town. When he was offered an opportunity to assist with the event, he couldn’t turn it down.

“I learned of this opportunity from the Skagit Hospital Residency Program, as they have helped with medical triage at the finish line for the last 3 years. It’s such a large event in our community and brings hundreds of people in from out of town,” he explained.

“I really appreciated the opportunity to work with the Skagit Valley Hospital residents and physicians to not only educate our community members about osteopathic medicine, but to demonstrate OMT and treat acute somatic dysfunctions,” added Czarnetzke. “Even as the athletes walked past our booth, I was amazed at the dysfunction that could be diagnosed simply by observing gait—the stuck sacrum of a cyclist or the knee instability of a downhill skier. I would encourage every student to participate in similar community programs if possible!”