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Better safe than sorry News hits

Today, if you type, “Rochester Institute of Technology” into Google News and press “search,” you will see almost 100 hits with headlines such as, “Study: Helmets reduce head injury risk on ski slopes.” That’s because Professor Jasper Healy gave the following comment to be included in an AP story:

“”Over the past five years, almost 40 percent of skiers and snowboarders who died in ski accidents wore helmets..I do wear a helmet…But if you hit a tree, don’t think a helmet will make the difference in being alive or being dead. It won’t.” (said Jasper Healy, professor emeritus at Rochester Institute of Technology…”)

University News Services is proud to see so many hits come from one of our own professors at RIT. The beauty of AP is in the great potential to reach vast audiences all over the country, from the San Francisco Chronicle to Aspen Daily News, CO, with “Rochester Institute of Technology” displayed for all to read and remember.

The problem of AP can be linked to the same “potential to reach vast audiences.” Professor Shealy was quoted, but in every paper from Oklahoma to New Jersey, his name was spelled Healy.

It’s a blessing and a bummer for Prof. Shealy. At least RIT was spelled correctly, right?

Oh, and wear a helmet when you ski.

  1. Mike Saffran
    Feb 22

    Becca correctly highlights a benefit--and a potential peril--from landing a story on one of the major wire services such as AP. The good part: It goes everyplace. The bad part: It goes everyplace (mistakes included).

    It’s too late for the spelling of Dr. Shealy’s name to be corrected in print outlets where the story has already appeared (except for an after-the-fact correction buried in the next day’s newspaper). However, because it’s not too late for a correction to electronic publications (along with print outlets holding onto the story for later use--a very common practice with wire stories), I have requested a correction from AP.

    Perhaps while writing her story, the reporter was watching a rerun of the ’60s TV show "I Dream of Jeannie." Remember the character, Maj. Roger Healy? ;-)

    A couple additional notes on Dr. Shealy’s research: His studies show that although helmets “may be effective at preventing minor injuries, they have not been shown to reduce the overall incidence of fatality in skiing and snowboarding.” Most fatalities, he says, involve accidents resulting in multiple trauma where wearing a helmet may not make much of a difference. On the bright side, though, he says deaths from alpine sports accidents are rare.

    Dr. Shealy also highlights that most skiing and snowboarding fatalities involve experienced, male skiers in their late teens to late 30s, some of whom may ski more recklessly when wearing a helmet--in which case the wearing of a helmet may actually contribute to an increased risk of serious injury or death.

    In essence, he describes young males having feelings of invincibility--whether it’s with fast cars or hot-dog skiing. That’s something I know all about, having once been one. Fortunately for me, though, I never had a major spill on the slopes (though plenty of minor ones); and, at 16 years old, I walked away from the only wreck I ever had with my sports car (which, by the way, I still own 20-something year later :-)

    My point: Wear a helmet when you ski, as Becca advises, but only if you plan to ski safely to begin with. Otherwise, please stay in the ski lodge--keeping the slopes safer for the rest of us.

    You can read more about Dr. Shealy’s findings in a future online edition of News & Events.

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