Former Eldora ski patroller and current mountain safety team member Scot Gorbet is a registered respiratory therapist at Colorado’s Boulder Community Hospital. Until the COVID-19 outbreak, not many people had heard about respiratory therapists. Now, says Gorbet, they’re in the spotlight.
 
Being a respiratory therapist goes way beyond helping people with asthma or COPD—from outpatient pulmonary and cardiac rehab to asthma education to performing pulmonary function tests in an office setting. Gorbet says the largest employer of RTs are hospitals, where they function in acute care in many different departments. “We are also part of the rapid response teams, code blue teams, and trauma teams, so we can be called to anything at any time,” says Gorbet.
 
At Boulder Community, Gorbet’s role as an acute critical care respiratory therapist means he spends most of his time in the ICU taking care of the critically ill. He manages ventilators, maintains airways, and basically does what’s necessary to keep people breathing—a vital skill set all the time, but especially in the age of COVID-19.
 
In the past few months, Gorbet has helped dozens of COVID patients who have needed some sort of ventilatory support. Boulder Community had a total of 806 cases as of May 15.
 
So how is Gorbet’s role at the hospital similar to ski patrolling? “In the hospital, the RTs are very much like first responders,” he says. “We carry a phone, not a radio, but we can get called away to anything at any moment and not know what we are walking into. Like patrolling, it’s an intense, stressful environment where you work as a team and have to be able to trust your team as well.”

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A former Eldora ski patroller mans the front lines as a respiratory therapist.
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