Long-time patroller and future nurse Daniel Voltz has more than a pass on his certification exam in mind as he obtains his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Washington State University this month.
Voltz will leave for China on January 20 to be part of the Mountain Rescue Service for the XXIV Olympic Winter Games. He will work six days a week to support alpine skiing competition, then with a short break, doing the same for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games that follow. It will return to the northwest interior in mid-March.
Voltz has been a ski patroller for a decade at 49 ° North Mountain Resort, near Chewelah, Washington. While working there, a request came from the International Olympic Committee for patrollers with experience in World Cup ski races, helicopter evacuations, ropes and abseiling.
“It was a yes to everyone,” said Voltz, 50. He volunteered for World Cup races in Colorado, climbed Mount Rainier and participated in several helicopter extractions as a member of the ski patrol, he said.
Those experiences, along with his work in the emergency department at Providence Holy Family Hospital while a student at WSU College of Nursing, helped him land the job, Voltz said.
He added that there were several hundred highly qualified candidates for 26 positions within the IOC Mountain Rescue Service. The team includes ski trackers from the United States, Canada, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom, who will support a team of 250 Chinese responders. Incredibly, Voltz is one of two 49 ° North ski patrollers on the 26-member Mountain Rescue Service; John Huffstutter is the other.
Voltz has been a skier his entire life, but he did not decide on a nursing career until a serious illness prompted him to reassess his leadership.
“I owned and operated a Conoco gas station and convenience store for 18 years in Chewelah. Then I had lymphoma, I sold the store, and I had chemotherapy and radiation therapy, ”he said. He knew he wanted to go into the medical field and therefore worked as a medical assistant to assess his options. “I became drawn to nursing, I took my prerequisites through Spokane Community College, I entered WSU and two years later, here we are. ”
He hopes he can take the NCLEX certification exam before he leaves for China, and upon his return, find a job in an emergency department.
“I like the idea that anything can happen at any time to the emergency room, you never know what the day will bring. In that regard, it’s similar to running a gas station, ”he laughed.
Voltz and the Mountain Rescue Service will remain in the Olympic Village and work on the Xiaohaituo alpine ski field during training and competitions.
“These skiers are the best in the world, so they fall at high speed,” he explained. “We will support major joint injuries, spinal trauma, internal bleeding and loss of consciousness. We’re in charge of packing these people up the mountain and getting them out by helicopter.
The ski slopes are so steep that the mountain rescue service will rope and abseil down to accidents, he said.
Due to COVID, teams will work in a “closed loop” system, with participants only allowed to travel between specific destinations with the same group of people. So no sightseeing, and no spectator in other competitions on his days off.
Regardless, Voltz said: “I hope no one gets hurt and if he gets hurt I can use my skills to help him.”