The day was absolutely picture perfect. We were a gang of 12 enjoying our skiing holidays in the Swiss Alps. It had snowed the night before and today the sun was shining and not a cloud in the blue sky. THIS is why I insist with my husband, that we need to come back to Switzerland every year for a week's skiing. There are few things more beautiful and more satisfying not to mention healthier that you can enjoy as a family, in my opinion.
It all came to a screetching halt when one of the teenagers fell over on the very last decent and hurt his arm. Within 10 minutes the first aid sledge had appeared only to inform us that the injury was such that a helicopter had to be called in. While we were waiting and the sun started turning cold in the late afternoon, there was not a single skier that did not stop to ask us if he could help in any way. One man pulled out some hot green tea - mandarine flavoured no less - to keep the boy warm. A Kinder chocolate bar appeared from somewhere after that.
A short while later, a helicopter performed a superbly precise landing on the slanting snowy slope and a kind, smiling doctor quickly explained what was to happen next. 20 minutes later the perfectly trained 3-person team had handed a very worried-looking boy over to the Kinderspital (children's hospital) in Bern.
The helicopter was not big enough to let a parent accompany the little patient. The Dad therefore was picked up at the bottom of the slope by one of the lift workers who drove him down the valley to where his car was parked. While Dad drove 100km to reach Bern, I was calming the Mum telling her that if there was ANY country I would leave my child fly off by himself in a helicopter, it would be Switzerland, most definitely.
Needless to say, feeling slightly panicky, the Dad could not find the hospital and stopped to ask the single soul on the street - that was not having dinner at 6pm - for the way. Without flinching the pedestrian called his wife to tell her he would be late for dinner, got in his car and led the way straight to the hospital.
The medical staff was most professional and precise, they took time to explain exactly what was wrong and very kindly reassured the father of all his doubts and worries. They comforted the boy and the nurses went out of their way to make their little patient feel as comfy as possible, especially since he did not speak their language.
Three days later we were all reunited again, sipping Swiss hot chocolate around a table with a smiling teenage boy in a cast. This will be a lasting memory not only for him but for all of us that were skiing down the slope that late afternoon.
My foreign friends could not praise the Swiss enough. The professionalism, the precision, the reliability, the organization and the dedication were qualities they had always heard about but experiencing these in a moment of emergency was a unique revelation. Furthermore, what they had not expected was the empathy, the kindness, the warmth, the genuine concern about their son's well-being by complete strangers. They were all looking at me as they kept on praising the Swiss. It seemed I was to take the credit for all the Swiss. Therefore, let me say it loud and clear: I am proud to be Swiss!
Thank you to all of you who made this Swiss experience unique and memorable in every way.