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Ski Patrol

Discussion in 'Snow Talk' started by Beerman, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. Beerman

    Beerman One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I thought i'd start this thread to highlight and hear about Ski Patrol and some of their stories, good and bad. These guys are the unsung heroes of the ski industry, without them, it's hit or miss on the hill. I know several forumites are Patrollers or ex Patrollers and I encourage them to share their experiences here in this thread. I recently read an article that explains a usual day on the hill for them (in the US), it's certainly not an everyday job, but additionally, no two days are the same. For me, a snow country lover, I really appreciate their involvement and input into the sport we love. Here's a good read to kick it off.
    https://snowbrains.com/ski-patrol-real-job/
     
  2. parkmonkey

    parkmonkey Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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  3. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I said it years ago, there is a TV series in it. They could film the whole series just in school holidays!
     
  4. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    IMO what they deal with shits on Bondi.

    In fact talking with head of SP in Thredbo, even in summer, people manage to do horrific things to themselves on the cheese grater. Let alone the attrition rate on MTB (which is many times, though less fatalities) compared to winter.

    Funny stories aside, imagine being first responder to some young girl that hit a tree. IMO respect.

    But, funny story time. I find this guy, dazed and confused, his buddy has called SP. I look up, here comes one with a bucket, uh oh, he loses it, lets the bucket go, it rolls multiple times. I say to the patient (who cant see it) Are you sure you want a ride down with these guys?
     
  5. cruisin along

    cruisin along A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Try taking a school group to Smiggins /Blue Cow and these guys on ski patrol are invaluable.
    Searching for 2 girls as the sun goes down .......it was their determination that found them.
    Transporting my own daughter down from BlueCow on the sled at an interesting speed after she fractured her kneecap ...she did not find funny but I am sure they did. They even waited for me with her to get there via the tube ...I found them all at the Medical Centre laughing about how many interesting trips just like hers they do each day. ( daughter was mid 20’s and very engaging)
    Eons ago some very handsome ski patrollers rescued me after I too hit a tree whilst zooming down the hill.....they were indeed a yummy distraction.
     
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  6. scottski

    scottski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    The steamboat patrol were very professional when I fractured my femur.
    The ride down the hill in the bucket was just insane. I was right out in the top shutes. Still in bounds but only by a few metres.
    One guy on the front of the pulk, a paramedic skiing alongside and warp speed. I ski fast, this was ridiculous. Never felt he wasn’t in control,
    Super impressed, carton of beer delivered this year when I returned.
     
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  7. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    One of my favourite videos...




    Also a more serious one on Perisher


    And can't forget the awesome women out there!
     
    #7 Ozgirl, Jun 14, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
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  8. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    I did a head plant at Jackson Hole in a lesson (9 stitches). The policy in lessons was that for any injury patrol was called. We were filling in the incident report. Name rank and serial number. Then occupation. "Litigation lawyer". You could see the fear on their faces. "Cause of injury?" "I was skiing too fast, crossed my tips and did a head plant." "Could you repeat that sir?" in a slightly incredulous tone. I did. At that point they decided to emigrate.
     
  9. POW_hungry

    POW_hungry Part of the Furniture Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Suck on the green pen and you'll go warp speed in any universe ;)
     
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  10. chicski

    chicski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    3 bucket trips for my family courtesy of the Perisher ski patrol. Mine got towed behind a skidoo up beside the Brumby T. Youngest got to ride the skidoo on her birthday :party: Fun times.

    All knee injuries.
     
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  11. scottski

    scottski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    No green pen in the USA, in fact no analgesic of any kind for two and a half hours. Just suck it up.
     
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  12. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    That doesn't sound like a very professional SP!
     
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  13. scottski

    scottski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ha ha, did you edit that ?
     
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  14. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ahhhh....maybeeee?
     
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  15. Chaeron

    Chaeron A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Suppository of all knowledge...
     
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  16. Snowy Joey

    Snowy Joey One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Love that last video
     
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  17. Cat_Herder

    Cat_Herder Hard Yards

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    Hijacking the thread a little... anybody know about/if volunteer patrol at Perisher is taking in people this year? I expressed interest a couple of weeks ago but I'm yet to hear back...
     
  18. andrew7

    andrew7 Addicted

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    That’s pretty poor care IMO. Whistler where I used to patrol used entonox and for serious injuries a doctor or 2 were on Mtn with access to IV morphine etc. Now as a MICA Paramedic with AV I take pride in providing best care and effective analgesia; for a femur #, this injury needs a traction splint applied to minimise internal bleeding/reduce pain (with # bones rubbing etc), unfortunately applying traction is very painful requiring judicious analgesia (IV Morphine and/or Ketamine). I can’t imagine not treating a femur # properly per above particularly for such a long period if time.
     
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  19. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I am guessing they are still sorting their shite out for this season. It may be just too much to take on new people this season.

    However keep an eye on their FB page
    https://www.facebook.com/perishervolunteerskipatrol/
     
  20. scottski

    scottski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    They brought a paramedic down to me after nearly one hour on snow. It took half an hour to find me, I was by myself for at least fifteen minutes. Traction was applied, they offered analgesia probably morphine. I turned it down. I was starting to go into hypothermia, called it and said let’s get to the bottom of the hill. I did not think they would easily find a vein in my condition. I had already triaged myself before calling in the midshaft comminuted closed femur fracture to ski patrol. The steamboat app lets you send your approximate location to ski patrol and call them.
     
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  21. skull

    skull One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    thanks for those you tube videos, you just had me on a 3 hour tube binge of skiing vids. Was epic, now time for bed
     
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  22. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thredbo announced they were delaying the intake, until they figure out new requirements, So I would guess a similar thing.
     
  23. oreo

    oreo One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Your ski patrol work experience depends pretty heavily on where and in what capacity you are ski patrolling.

    IME, most injuries happen on blue runs and intermediate / beginner terrain parks. If you're working in a ski resort that caters to a touristy blue-green run crowd, you're probably doing lots of first aid. Just splint and transport. Usually the injuries are not gruesome, twisted knees or closed fractures. But obviously can run the gamut.

    If you work somewhere that caters to more advanced crowds with more snowfall, you are likely not dealing with lots of injuries, although when the injuries occur they skew to the more traumatic side and can have more exciting extraction experiences (ropes, anchors, belays etc). The focus of the patrol is likely more heavily slanted to avalanche mitigation given the nature of the terrain / snowfall.

    New Zealand, Australia and Canada patrols offer on-hill pain relief (Entonox or Penthrox). In the USA they offer Oxygen only although they may have on-hill doctors that can give drugs. How long you deal with an injury can vary from mountain to mountain. In some places (thinking rural NZ) you may be hours from further assistance (even by helicopter) whilst in other ski areas you can just bring the person down and hand them off to a medical clinic in a few minutes.

    There is usually a fair amount of downtime during the day. Bring a charged phone to allay boredom. You might be able to go free ski or you might have to spend a few hours doing hut time or fixing rope lines and trail markings.

    There is usually a very high staff turnover rate with minimal pay (starting at about $20 AUD / hr in aus, $13 USD / hr $15 CAD/ hr, $15-20 NZD / hr in NZ and not increasing significantly, add maybe $5 through $10 dollars in local currency for being a supervisor) and seasonal employment mean few people will see it as a career. Training is required and the level (and cost) of which depends on the country you're working in (first aid, Avalanche courses). Further training (higher first aid / avalanche courses/Revalidation) are sometimes partially reimbursed but usually not.

    If there is volunteer patrol, there is usually some level of hostility/disdain/condescension between the paid patrol and volunteer patrol (from both sides).

    Do you need to be an exceptional skier to work as a ski patroller? No. Although some ski resorts will aspire to be elitist about ski ability with intake tests, there is usually a range of ski ability inside the patrol. There might often be a slight discussion in a patrol hut about the location of a called in injury and who should be sent to it (if not, who shouldn't be). I've seen patrollers taught on the fly how to downhill kick turn in powder to zig-zag down the mountain during avalanche control, not for avalanche control but because they don't know how to ski in powder. They usually get to an acceptable level from skiing daily in their first season. I've also seen patrollers sent to ski school lessons to get to an acceptable level sooner.

    The culture of the patrol, like the culture present in any workplace, can play a large part in retention / job satisfaction. It can be welcoming or adversarial, light hearted hazing or down-right bullying can be present. Patrols can be PC or pretty misogynistic/homophobic/hostile. They can also be encouraging of seeking continuing professional development / Higher levels of training or the supervisors / head of patrol can see this as threatening.

    I am no longer a ski patroller but I hope that gives you some insights. Feel free to AMA.
     
    #23 oreo, Jun 15, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  24. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I haven't worked as a patroller but have worked around the ski industry for enough years to see a fairly good cross section of patrol ops. The excellent post above by @oreo covers it well. Perhaps one update: the advent of bike parks and other summer ops has changed the landscape for resort staff. There is now a small but growing cadre of mountain professionals who make a full time living patrolling on skis in winter and mountain bike in summer. Resorts are seeing value in investing in training for these people, although remuneration is still on the low side considering the level of training and dedication required.

    Fortunately in 4 decades of skiing I've spent time hanging out with and helping SP but never really needed their services. In the early 90s the Apex patrol was so short on staff that on midweek days with no vollies around, us ski schoolers were used to help on morning and afternoon sweep and sometimes with avy control. Likewise, we took the training for chairlift evacuation. When I ruptured my ACL, I was skiing double black terrain with my GP, a steep narrow chute which emptied out into trees. Both of us agreed that no one should have to haul my large body in a toboggan in such a spot, so I skied out mostly on one leg. The doc and the other two friends I was with helped by going ahead and stomping down the new snow so I could sideslip; a horrible waste of powder that I regret even today. We were planning to call patrol once I got near a groomer but by then I found I could fake turns on the groomed so just skied slowly all the way to the village.
     
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  25. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nothing quite so dramatic but it's amazing what you can do when you are determined not to go in an akya. I've had 3 trips to the medical centre (should have been 4) but always managed to get myself to the bottom of the run. Seated skidoo ride twice, skied to medical centre the other time. (Lunch and then the car on the 4th - didn't actually seek medical help for weeks)

    My favourite SP told me after seeing me fall one day "as long as you are skiing I know I have job security"
     
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  26. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    I’d have to be unable to move to go in an akya - too much control freak to be comfortable allowing that.

    Years ago I snowboarded from just below Hana 3 to the Gondie base in Niseko after being bowling pinned and knocked out briefly. Followed in the tracks of my friend, turn for turn, she was making all the line and terrain choices - I couldn’t do more than stay upright.

    Also overruled @SuskiQ when she wanted to get patrol when I “hurt my arm” - she insisted I get it looked at before continuing though, so snowboarded down to the lift (at Hotham) then up to the Med Centre to find out it was broken, surprising all of us except Suski!

    We did organise a ride with patrol for a young friend in Niseko the season before last though... took FOREVER - lucky she didn’t get hypothermia! Firstly reporting it and getting action was tricky, second the crew went to another accident instead of hers, then finally they loaded her in and skied down - I reckon in total about two hours to get her down a 3 minute ski. Then another few hours sitting in flu cental at the medical centre. All for a twinge...
    Given she is a 50kg small woman, PB and I reckon it’d have been easier to piggy back her down the slope!
     
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  27. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    'Akja'

    Just FYI

    LOL
     
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  28. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    both spellings are out there, but i should have gone for the j version
     
  29. easty

    easty One of Us

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    There was a series developed in the USA a decade ago. It followed the Crystal Mountain Ski patrol. It only lasted for one 12 episode season.
     
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  30. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Al Bronkowitz presents.....love the voiceover!
     
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  31. SuskiQ

    SuskiQ Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    The keg sled still rates as my funniest SP moment at Baw Baw. It took 4 beefy guys to carry it up the road. :eek: It spent they day sitting outside the office then they were able to pick it up and carry it back to their car.

    Re @LMB and her broken arm. I was 80% sure it was fractured, that or very bruised bone. I conceded on the slow slide down the rest of Blue Ribbon on proviso we get it checked.

    As for myself, loads of training runs as “passenger” in an akja, and just the one real trip out of Slalom Gully. Even through the haze of pain and green whistle I felt so sorry for the poor guy who had to skate me through soft spring afternoon slush down Swindlers Creek to Village chair. He worked real hard!
     
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  32. mr

    mr Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    here are some of the legends looking after one of my kids bottom of heavenly after braining himself on a tree in off the edge a couple of years ago.....i've just watched the footage of the incident (from his POV) and it still gives me shivers
     
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  33. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    suck it up
    Here is a panadol
     
  34. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Ha Ha. That's quite funny @oreo and 100% true.

    I can't believe pro patrol and volley's have issues.;) Then you moved to UFC world of guiding and saw some real aggression and dislike between guiding operations, that would put pro v volley patrol to shame. :):)LOL
     
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  35. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Haha, I remember a story from a Pro Patroller regarding a new volly. They attend someone with a broken arm, and he tells the Volly to radio it in.

    After he says to them, try not to sound so excited when you call the next one in.

    He reckons it was like, "I got one!"
     
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  36. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    At least two BC resorts I can think of had so much acrimony between volly and pro patrol that they ended up asking CSPS (national organization for volly) to leave the mountain altogether. They'd rather pay additional full timers than have the aggro. Unbelievable.

    Pro patrol leader at Apex made a point of putting all patrollers, volly and pro, in the same uniform and came down pretty briskly on any signs of attitude. As Oreo said, management culture makes a big difference.
     
  37. Idoitmyway

    Idoitmyway Early Days

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    "If there is volunteer patrol, there is usually some level of hostility/disdain/condescension between the paid patrol and volunteer patrol (from both sides)."
    That can certainly be the case in some resorts and I've definitely seen total dis-function between Voly and Paid patrols (separate radio channels, competition to get to accidents first ... bizarre), but by no means is it the way it works at many.

    Hotham patrol for instance is genuinely an integrated patrol, Voly and Paid do the same job, side by side, with the same expectations of both. Sure, there are some jobs a full-time patroller will be a better choice for simply because they get more time on the job - so the Paid patroller might get sent to fix a more complicated boundary rope while the Voly (who might happen to be a MICA paramedic in their day job) responds to the accident. The only hostility/disdain/condescension to be seen is the usual personal relations, nothing to do with the respective roles. Generally most people have a pretty good idea of the skill set of each individual and they get used accordingly, irrespective of if they are getting paid or not. There are more and less competent patrollers, and it's got nothing to do with the rate of pay!

    I know other patrols function similarly. I also know a couple in which P/V are totally hostile to each other. Beware any patrol that has two uniforms has been my rule of thumb!
     
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  38. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Thredbo operates quite well together, as do most Australian resorts from my experience. This is driven from the head of patrol and if you've got a good one then usually they work well together. The only real variable might be the odd individual.

    Within the vollees can be an interesting dynamic. Akin to a bowling club.
     
  39. Idoitmyway

    Idoitmyway Early Days

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    I don't bowl so can't comment on that one :)
    I quite agree that most Australian patrols are pretty well integrated and work well together. I only used Hotham as the example because it's the one I know best.
    It's a weird thing when there's a patrol that doesn't function together - I don't think it's necessarily got much to do with the head of patrol in many cases. It's like nations who are constantly at war - no real reason for it, they've just done it that way for centuries and they're damn well not going to change now! I've seen patrols with heads who were great, and who really tried to get everyone on the same page, but failed. Weird.
     
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  40. Annabuzzy

    Annabuzzy Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Interesting. I’d just assumed the dynamic would be similar to surf clubbies and paid council lifeguards - each fitting in around each other to get the job done.
     
  41. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Yeah in Australia it is on the whole.

    But I know in some countries it can be pretty bad. Mostly egos at work.
     
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