By Bill Deaton
Since 1936 the National Ski Patrol has dedicated itself to the promotion of safety in skiing and other winter sports. Over many decades it has evolved from a small group simply there to provide aid and care to injured skiers, to a congressionally chartered organization providing education, outreach, and credentialing related to outdoor recreation and safety.
Ski Patrollers have a multi-faceted job. Some people see them as evil minions there to curb overly enthusiastic guests. Bad guys just looking for an excuse to clip someone’s ticket and send them to see management. In actuality, keeping the resort guests safe and out of the first aid room.
Every patroller is an Outdoor Emergency Care Technician, there to provide medical assistance to injured skiers and snowboarders, and anyone else at the resort for that matter. Accidents happen and patrollers are happy to help but preventing them is the chief concern. So, if they hassle folks because their safety bar is not down on the chairlift, or if someone is skiing in a closed area, or just acting in an unsafe manner, patrol will address those issues.
- There are more than 26,000 members serving in 600 different patrols.
- Patrollers must take the 120-hour OEC Technician Course or successfully pass a challenge test if they are already a medical provider.
- Patrollers must attend an annual medical refresher, an on-hill rescue refresher, and must be current in CPR/AED. They may opt to take other courses focused on rescue, advanced care, and skiing/snowboarding enhancement.
- Patrollers may choose to advance to senior or certified levels and may specialize in alpine or nordic skills.
- 80 hours of service over the course of a season is generally expected of patrollers.
Some patrollers are paid to work at ski resorts, but most are volunteers. Each patrol sets its own policies towards attendance based on the needs of the resort. Similarly, skiing ability varies by location but in order to make a senior or certified rating, patrollers are then tested to a national standard. The NSP is always looking for new members. Stop by the patrol room at your favorite mountain or visit www.nsp.org for more information on how to get involved.