Whistler health centre gearing up for the millennium By Andrew Mitchell Ever since she took on the job as the health services co-ordinator for the Whistler Health Care Centre and the Pemberton Health Centre on Nov. 1, Barb Kinnon has had her hands full — the ski season started almost two weeks early, the WHCC installed a new Y2K-ready computer system and Whistler's emergency services are going through scenario after scenario to ensure that all emergency needs will be met the eve of the millennium. "I know I've only been here for six weeks, but it feels like I've been here for a lot longer," says Kinnon. "I just jumped right in." Although the numbers of ski and snowboard-related accidents and traffic accidents are down from last years' figures, handling Y2K issues is taking up a lot of her time. This year there have been 112 ski accidents and 127 snowboard accidents on the hill, compared to 133 and 163 respectively in the same period last year. The number of patients transferred by ambulance to hospitals in Vancouver has been cut in half, with only 19 transfers — last year there were 40. There have been three helicopter MediVacs, one more than for the same period in 1998. Accidents on Highway 99 are down to 12 from 16 the previous year. "Hopefully that means people are playing it safer," says Kinnon. The WHCC is also in the process of integrating a new computer system to replace an older system that was not Y2K compliant. Although the new system is a huge improvement, says Kinnon, there have been minor problems. "Anything that isn't working, we've been fixing as we go. It's a good experience for everybody here, and all the staff is eager to get on board with the change. It's just taking up a lot of my time right about now." As the millennium approaches, Whistler's emergency services are working overtime to ensure they have a plan in place for every contingency, whether it's a Y2K-induced power failure, a heart attack at the Roundhouse or housing a large volume of emergency patients if the road to Vancouver is closed. "We are ready to accommodate extra patients in the staff room if necessary, we have arranged for a four-wheel drive truck to pick up nurses if there's a snowstorm, and we have numerous plans in place for getting sick or injured people off the mountain," says Kinnon. The WHCC is hiring additional nurses and porters for the millennium party, and has plans to take nursing interns in the new year to help handle the heavy winter workload. Last season, it was not uncommon for the WHCC to receive a hundred patients in a single day.