Report by an Austrian volunteer at the Ski Jump World Cup in Germany

Oberstdorf, Germany,  28th – 29th December 2022

The big Schattenberg ski jump in Oberstdorf is one of the most important Ski Jumping Hills in the world. Each year it attracts up to 38,000 visitors for the opening jumping competition of the Four Hills Tournament. Johanniter in Allgäu welcomed six volunteers from Austria and one English volunteer who joined in the provision of first aid for the Ski Jump World Cup in Oberstdorf.

Here is what Richard from Johanniter Austria reports of his time in Germany:

“Oberstdorf is situated in the most southern part of Germany and is the first station of the Four Hills Tournament. This opening sports event consisted of two consecutive days. On the first day, training jumps and qualifications took place, and on the second day, a preliminary and then final round were held.

We arrived in Kempten, which is about a 45 minutes’ drive away from Oberstdorf, the evening before the first day, after an almost seven hours car drive from Vienna. By coincidence, we stumbled across Robert, the local operations manager for Johanniter at the Four Hills Tournament, in a supermarket, and got an early first tour of the local ambulance station before checking in at our hotel.

The next morning, we met up at the local station in Kempten, had a first briefing and were handed our accreditations. We also met our English colleague Samantha from St John Ambulance, who also took part in the JOIN Volunteer Swap. Shortly after, we headed to Oberstdorf in convoy and arrived at the ski jump hill and arena.

The medical service at the event was mainly split up in two areas – one to take care of all athletes, and one to look after all the spectators. There were three treatment places for the public throughout the stadium, where paramedics, doctors and first aiders were located, and visitors could seek first aid. From those points, small troops were sent to attend sick or injured spectators in the crowd. There were also a few Ambulance cars standing ready to transport patients.

For the safety and wellbeing of the athletes, right next to the outrun of the hill, two teams consisting each of a doctor and two paramedics stood ready to intervene in case of a fall or injury. Additionally, there was a medical centre to provide treatment and an ambulance specifically designated for injured athletes.

At the arena, we were assigned to our places, as some of us assisted the local team at the outrun, and some of us looked after spectators at a treatment place. One colleague also got the opportunity to take a leading role at one of the treatment places.

On the first day, the only fall of a ski jumper during our attending happened, and he luckily remained uninjured. Also, from a spectator’s point of view, the day remained calm and got us a good opportunity to get familiar not only with the area and equipment but also with our colleagues. After the shift, we were invited to socialize and get something to eat with our German colleagues and had the chance to connect closer.

On the second day, the final rounds took place and there were up to 25,500 spectators attending this event. The atmosphere in the crowd got more relaxed, and the treatment places had to deal with a higher amount of – luckily almost exclusively minor – interventions compared to the first day. At our last debriefing at the arena, we all concluded, that this was an invaluable experience, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a lot from it.

Afterwards, we again spent our evening with our German colleagues and headed to our hotel well after midnight. The next morning, we started our road trip back home to Vienna, where we arrived in the evening.

We all really enjoyed our short JOIN Volunteer Swap in Germany and were very happy to get involved in this first aid and ambulance service. Our favourite part was getting to know our colleagues, many of them becoming our friends while sharing experiences, and noticing, that we have a lot more in common than we thought we would. We truly hope to see each other again soon – maybe at the next Four Hills Tournament, or while welcoming some of our German colleagues as part of JOIN Volunteer Swap at our Viennese Ambulance service!”