FALMOUTH — It’s unusual to see members of opposing high school teams helping each other out.
But when a fellow athlete’s life was in danger, two local skiers put their competitiveness aside.
On Feb. 9, the two top Falmouth High School Nordic skiers may have saved North Yarmouth Academy Nordic skier Jake Susla’s life.
During a ski meet in Gray, Susla collapsed in a secluded area far from the spectators and emergency staff. When Falmouth junior and frequent team scorer Tim Follo came upon Susla, Follo stopped and asked Susla if he was OK.
“Jake was lying on the ground, sprawled out,” Follo said. “I asked him if he was alright and he didn’t say anything.”
So Follo turned around, forfeiting what would have likely been a top race time, to find a coach.
In the meantime, fellow Falmouth skier Matt Goldstein came upon Susla. Goldstein is also a volunteer firefighter and a licensed emergency medical technician.
“I said, ‘Hi, I’m an EMT in Falmouth. Do you need help?’ Usually when I say that, people just tell me to keep going. But no one said anything,” Goldstein said.
So he jumped out of his skis and immediately went to work. Goldstein tried to get a response from Susla, who was unconscious. He moved him off the snow to prevent hypothermia and monitored his vital signs until a snowmobile arrived to transport the young man.
“With an EMT license, you have a legal obligation to stay with the patient until you can sign off to someone with an equal or higher license,” Goldstein said.
So, when the snowmobile took off down the trail with Susla, Goldstein followed close behind on his skis.
“At one point I had to ditch it on a downhill because I caught up with the snowmobile,” Goldstein said proudly.
When they got back to the starting area, Goldstein waited with Susla until another licensed EMT from Gray arrived and took over. Susla was taken to the hospital and treated, and was later released. He was not seriously hurt and is already back to skiing competitively.
Follo and Goldstein said they thought anyone else on the team or any of the other teams would have done the same thing, even though it cost their team the race.
“I was very pleased that Matt and Tim behaved as they did. I would hope anyone on the team would have,” Falmouth Nordic skiing co-coach James Demers said. “They both have the potential to be upstanding citizens. They both act with integrity all the time.”
Demers said knowing they have an EMT on the team is a comfort, too, because Nordic skiers are often far away from emergency resources.
“The bigger picture here is how friendly skiers and parents are in Nordic skiing,” Demers said, adding that often skiers will cheer on friends on other teams and are very supportive of each other, regardless of which school they attend.
“I think Nordic skiing tends to attract kids who are caring individuals, kids who, for the most part, understand that their high school sport may be something they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives, but not be competitive at in college, which allows them to relax and just enjoy it,” he said.
“It’s a great community,” Follo added. “We look out for each other.”
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Falmouth High School senior Matt Goldstein, left, and junior Tim Follo helped a North Yarmouth Academy skier who had collapsed during a race.
Fryburg Academy Nordic ski coaches applaud as Falmouth High School skiers Tim Follo, left, and Matt Goldstein, wearing sunglasses, are honored for sportsmanship at the state meet in Fryburg last Saturday after the two stopped during a race on Feb. 9 to assist North Yarmouth Academy skier Jake Susla, center, who had collapsed. NYA team captain Robert Field, right, also applauds.