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How good a skier is good enough for ski patrol?

post #1 of 113
Thread Starter 

I searched and did not find, if this has been covered please point me to the thread and ignore below.

 

I am considering getting involved with ski patrol, full blown involvement would probably be a few years off (if things go as planned I may be able to start taking 3 months off, ie Jan-March, every year beginning in 3-4 years, I would be about 50 at that time).  I am a pulmonary/critical care md, pretty good shape, beyond comfortable with arrest, shock, central lines, intubation, emergent tracheostomy (means you failed on the intubation), chest tubes etc.  I am very aware from riding along with EMS in fellowship that what I do in the ICU is very different than field conditions, but am reasonably confident I could pick it up quickly.  The medical part doesn't concern me much.

 

I would be MUCH more concerned about the following scenario:

 

Me: "He was in full arrest, cyanotic and pulseless when we found him.  He resuscitated easily and had a strong pulse within a couple of minutes"

Patrol Boss: "Great!  How is he doing now?"

Me: "Ummm....well...I sorta lost control of the toboggan and dropped him over a cliff"

 

I could guess at my current level (6?), but really my question is more practical - what should I be able to do on skis before I bother approaching the local ski patrol?

post #2 of 113

The S&T test (ski and toboggan) consists of testing:

Long radius turns- carving for at least a cat track and a half or 2 width wise down the run, and keeping up speed

Medium radius- a little narrower

Short radius- within a cat track

All of this is focused on good U shaped turns not S shaped, so round out each turn more, stay on edge, and keep up speed.

 

Slide slipping within a cat track width, being able to slide from one side of the run, across the run to the other keeping a slide slip motion and edge control. Doing a V wedge slip. Doing a flip turn with your ski (taking one ski and standing in place flip it the opposite direction).

 

Toboggan: Unloaded and Loaded primarily. Unloaded, you ski straight down the hill, turning your skis as if on a pivot to control speed but staying within basically the length of your skis as the width of your turns.

Loaded, you are between the handles, slide slipping most the time, making transitions to a V wedge for a bit faster speed on slower sections. Keeping edge control on this transition is key.

 

It all combines short radius turning, slide slipping confidently and fast, good edge control. And most of this can be taught through the season prior to testing.

post #3 of 113

Any trail, any time, any conditions

 

Crust is the worst!

 

It takes a season to learn the meds,  We are in the transportation business!

 

It takes eight years and countless miles to learn to ski!


Edited by Cgrandy - 11/16/11 at 9:42pm
post #4 of 113

Let me be more practical.

 

Can you ski TO the patient"  that is, you must be able to negotiate trees steeps,bumps and ice without concern for your own ability.  I call it "any turn, any time"  there is an knowing when you are there.. Is such skill required before you begin to patrol? Each area is different,  but you will need these skill soon enough. Are you on your way?

 

Our mountain uses a " bullet" system, where the first patroller skis to the location without a sled. The patient is often in difficult terrain. 

 

Just a heads up.

 

 

post #5 of 113

As an MD you'll have a step up on others because there is usually a need for a Dr. to be around.  If you want to work somewhere other than the first aid room though, you need to be able to ski as described above.

post #6 of 113

I am not sure I'm on the same page as the above guys. I've seen some pretty weak skiers in the ski patrol - really, I think it will depend on where you're patrolling. Is it the high couloirs of Jackson or are you on the local 300' ski hill. Find the local hill and stay on station in the darn terrain park! 

 

If I was a patrol - I'd LOVE having a qualified doctor around. As long as you can arrive on scene, let someone else take them down the hill. 

 

Cardiac Specialist VS Toboggan Driver... mutually exclusive? I don't think so... Go out and ski and tell the snowboarders to slow down - watch your radio go off every time there is a bad call - who cares if you meet them in the First Aid room. Go apply and help. 

post #7 of 113

^^^THIS!

post #8 of 113

Go talk to the patrol director wherever you want to patrol. I suspect they'll find a way to help get you on board. It may take some training and ski instruction, but you've got skills they want.

post #9 of 113

Like others have said, I suspect they'll want your skills and would be more concerned with you being able to get to a scene than worried about you being able to pull the sled out of there.  It's a lot easier to become a good skier than a MD.

post #10 of 113
Thread Starter 

Thanks all
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinecure View Post

Go talk to the patrol director wherever you want to patrol. I suspect they'll find a way to help get you on board. It may take some training and ski instruction, but you've got skills they want.

 

Free ski instruction?  Outstanding!

 

Will talk with the ski patrol, hopefully Monday (unless I get slain on call Sunday Night).  If anyone here knows anyone in the Crystal Ski Patrol (or is themselves in the patrol), please let me know.
 

EDIT:  Just found their blog, can get contacts through there.  Thanks again


Edited by Alveolus - 11/17/11 at 1:26pm
post #11 of 113

I used to take my kids to a "mountain" that had a ski patroller who didn't ski at all.  She was an RN and she wanted her kids learn to ski.  She used a ski mobile to get to the scene.  We were happy to have her.

A lot of places will give a paramedic (or even an EMT) a free pass of they just carry a radio and agree to respond.   The way you should think of it is,they either have to teach a skier to do medical stuff, or teach a doctor to ski.

 

BK

 

 

 

post #12 of 113

Doc.   If you join the ski patrol you will  learn how to ski well all you really have to do is tell your coworkers that you want to become a good skier, they will help you out.

 

One reminder, you obviously have some real special skills.  Be up front with the supervisor about your desire to be "out on the hill" not relegated to the clinic/office/ER and that you are joining to ski and enjoy your time on the mountain, Yes you want to help and be a valuable member of the team but you also want to be on the mountain doing your duties.

 

Some people, supervisors, organizations or groups of people might have a tendency to take advantage of yourself consequently burning you out in short order.  Something you don't want to happen.

 

Good Luck

post #13 of 113
Thread Starter 

I had planned to figure out the rest of my likely journey into ski patrol by myself, but Pete’s post prodded me into putting at least one more post into this thread.  A few thoughts-

 

  1. I tend to agree with the posters saying that I should be able to ski well in order to be able to do what I really want to do….be on real ski  patrol, not the “doc in the box” at the aid shack pulling pine needles out of kids noses, saying “yup, that’s a big bruise,” putting a couple of stitches in, and generally spending the entire day looking out the window wishing I could be out there.  I would be more than happy to go wherever needed for something at least moderately serious, but spending the entire day inside when there is all that “out there” out there would make me die a little bit inside.   One of my partners took a season pass to be the “doc on call,” 1 weekend a month at a local hill, quit after 1 season as was rarely on the hill.  Might require a firm up front agreement with the local patrol that I am here to become a “real” patroller, not man the aid station, and some plan to achieve same. 
  2.  I am still  unclear on what skiing well  (enough) means.  “All turns, all conditions, all terrain” seems a bit much, I mean do I need to be the next Nimbus star?   Or just be confident and stable on (nearly) all terrain?  Skiism’s post was useful in this regard, but to be honest I understood about ¾ of it.  I suspect this would work itself out and become obvious when talking/skiing with the local patrol.  I may be selling myself short on my skiing ability.
  3. Getting good enough to go out on full, unrestricted patrol could be a real carrot to my own improvement.
  4. Avy stuff REALLY interests me.  My undergrad is in engineering, I tend to read tech/med stuff as bedtime reading (yup, I’m a geek), was a tanker in the army (like stuff that goes BOOM).  Going skiing and then tossing dynamite?...are you kidding?....HEAVEN!  Does anyone have any recs for primer reading on the basics (or beyond), on snow/avalanche physics?

 

Yeah I know…too many words


Edited by Alveolus - 11/17/11 at 7:32pm
post #14 of 113

The task of a patroller is to get a hurt client packed up and off the hill without being hurt any more than he already is, and released to a higher level of care or on his own recognizance. The details depend on where you'll patrol, some hills have more medical capabilities than others. Where I patrol we aren't authorized to perform more than first aid, so even though we have a good variety of doctors, surgeons, EMTs and nurses they all have to leave their creds in the car when they are on patrol.

 

I joined as a host-apprentice after I'd been skiing only 2 seasons... I think they were really needing new candidates and set the bar low that year. I was barely intermediate at the time, but I guess I had a good attitude. I got about 9 hours of on-hill training a week for 4 seasons before making basic. The emphasis is on being able to negotiate the hill safely yourself, and being able to get a loaded toboggan down the hill; most of the skills involved will make you a much better all-around skier.

 

There's LOTS of training available in the NSP: mountain travel/rescue, avalanche,... you'll have fun. Free skiing, great training, great friends, helping people who desperately need it... I love patrolling.

post #15 of 113

It depends on the ski area. At ours, there were two components before being accepted as a Candidate Patroller. First, we went to the most challenging, steepest trail on our hill where several observers watched each one of ski the trail. Next, we each had an interview with the Patrol Director and two other veteran patrollers. If your skiing is not up to the level they are looking for, they may suggest you become an auxiliary patroller to start off while they work with you to get your skiing up to the expected level. An auxiliary patroller is not on skis.  I know this is not what you are looking for, but it gets you in the door and gets you the training to become a full patroller. That said, each patrol is different, but this is how ours can work. At our mountain each patroller is expected to ski the most difficult trail available with control.


Good luck, you have a lot to offer

post #16 of 113
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by chilehed View Post

The task of a patroller is to get a hurt client packed up and off the hill without being hurt any more than he already is, and released to a higher level of care or on his own recognizance. The details depend on where you'll patrol, some hills have more medical capabilities than others. Where I patrol we aren't authorized to perform more than first aid, so even though we have a good variety of doctors, surgeons, EMTs and nurses they all have to leave their creds in the car when they are on patrol.


So if there is an on hill arrest (it has GOT to happen, hell it happens at the mall, and on the hill EMS is gonna wait for you to get them down to the base)?  Cervical trauma?  Deep tree well fall with hypothermia and pulseless?  Seconds (let alone minutes) are critical in those situations.  I assumed there would be someone on mountain authorized/qualified to perform beyond first aid (if no drugs/iv access, no intubation, how do you continue CPR down the mountain?  stop every 200 ft or so when they look "bluer"?). If they are not breathing intubation is really a first line treatment (can cure a LOT of ills and is dramatically better that the best bag-valve-mask).   I could be (and probably am) wrong, but I just assumed that on mountain care went beyond a splint, bandage,  reassurance and a toboggan ride.  I am really not ragging on you, just surprised.  Maybe this is a function of ski hill/patrol size?  I don't expect a trauma surgeon to be on site with a full operating suite, but if I ever misjudge and hit a tree I kinda thought there might be a little more than:

 

"Man, he looks blue.  He's not breathing.  Put a C-collar on him and trolley him down to base"

 

EDIT:  OK that sounded harsh, I apologize, but my general point stands

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by Alveolus - 11/17/11 at 8:14pm
post #17 of 113

No, we have AEDs and O2 on the hill and if required, those are called for and brought to us for after the initial, quick patient assessment. We have training to use this equipment and we are healthcare provider CPR trained. If CPR is needed while transporting in the sled, one patroller is in the sled performing CPR while another drives the sled. Maintaining an airway, having a breathing patient with circulation is the first priority, always.  

post #18 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alveolus View Post

Quote:


So if there is an on hill arrest (it has GOT to happen, hell it happens at the mall, and on the hill EMS is gonna wait for you to get them down to the base)?  Cervical trauma?  Deep tree well fall with hypothermia and pulseless?  Seconds (let alone minutes) are critical in those situations.  I assumed there would be someone on mountain authorized/qualified to perform beyond first aid (if no drugs/iv access, no intubation, how do you continue CPR down the mountain?  stop every 200 ft or so when they look "bluer"?). If they are not breathing intubation is really a first line treatment (can cure a LOT of ills and is dramatically better that the best bag-valve-mask).   I could be (and probably am) wrong, but I just assumed that on mountain care went beyond a splint, bandage,  reassurance and a toboggan ride.  I am really not ragging on you, just surprised.  Maybe this is a function of ski hill/patrol size?  I don't expect a trauma surgeon to be on site with a full operating suite, but if I ever misjudge and hit a tree I kinda thought there might be a little more than:

 

"Man, he looks blue.  He's not breathing.  Put a C-collar on him and trolley him down to base"

 

EDIT:  OK that sounded harsh, I apologize, but my general point stands

 

 

 

 

 


A lot of this has to do with local patrol protocol and the associated legal safety checks associated with that. Most of the higher level medical stuff is done in the patrol room not necessarily on the hill. But you really have to be careful with what we are qualified through the eyes of NSP to perform. If you break local protocol then the hill can be sued (dam americans) and then its a shit storm from there on. As far as intubation, pretty sure the farthest we go is nasal pharangeal (spelling?) and oral as well.

 

post #19 of 113

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alveolus View Post

Quote:


So if there is an on hill arrest (it has GOT to happen, hell it happens at the mall, and on the hill EMS is gonna wait for you to get them down to the base)?  Cervical trauma?  Deep tree well fall with hypothermia and pulseless?  Seconds (let alone minutes) are critical in those situations.  I assumed there would be someone on mountain authorized/qualified to perform beyond first aid (if no drugs/iv access, no intubation, how do you continue CPR down the mountain?  stop every 200 ft or so when they look "bluer"?). If they are not breathing intubation is really a first line treatment (can cure a LOT of ills and is dramatically better that the best bag-valve-mask).   I could be (and probably am) wrong, but I just assumed that on mountain care went beyond a splint, bandage,  reassurance and a toboggan ride.  I am really not ragging on you, just surprised.  Maybe this is a function of ski hill/patrol size?  I don't expect a trauma surgeon to be on site with a full operating suite, but if I ever misjudge and hit a tree I kinda thought there might be a little more than:

 

"Man, he looks blue.  He's not breathing.  Put a C-collar on him and trolley him down to base"

 

EDIT:  OK that sounded harsh, I apologize, but my general point stands


Yes, it has a lot to do with hill size and location. I patrol in SE. Michigan, the hill's 200 feet tall, we're just on the border of town and a lot of times the ambulance is at the patrol house five minues after we put out the call (a lot quicker than we can get you boarded if you hit a tree). We can perform CPR in the toboggan if it's necessary, but top to bottom the trip's under a minute and the whole area's maybe 100 acres in size including the parking lot.

 

No need to apologise. More than once I've seen EMT's drop out of the OEC (Outdoor Emergency Care) training because they had such a hard time with not being able to do all the stuff they do at work. Sometimes I wonder what I'd do if I were a doctor faced with a choice between maintaining local protocol and taking quick action for a patient who was CTD. Makes me glad I'm just an engineer; please God, grant that that's not a decision that anyone ever has to make.

post #20 of 113

On the dynamite note: I assume any patrollers who work with that stuff have to take some sort of munitions class and get certified?

post #21 of 113

Not here they don't.  Daughter was dating ski patroller last year and he claimed they just took him out there and told him to throw hard and make sure there was a certain amount of exit time or something.  
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayT View Post

On the dynamite note: I assume any patrollers who work with that stuff have to take some sort of munitions class and get certified?



 

post #22 of 113

That's pretty surprising... from an insurance liability point of view.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Not here they don't.  Daughter was dating ski patroller last year and he claimed they just took him out there and told him to throw hard and make sure there was a certain amount of exit time or something.  
 



 



 

post #23 of 113

Agree totally.  I kept saying, "you're kidding, right?"  On the other hand, we aren't sending charges out via cannons.  It's a toss and MOVE.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayT View Post

That's pretty surprising... from an insurance liability point of view.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Not here they don't.  Daughter was dating ski patroller last year and he claimed they just took him out there and told him to throw hard and make sure there was a certain amount of exit time or something.  
 



 



 



 

post #24 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Agree totally.  I kept saying, "you're kidding, right?"  On the other hand, we aren't sending charges out via cannons.  It's a toss and MOVE.
 



 


Well, im sure it comes with a very specific way it needs to be constructed. Given that, the fuse they are using is a simple det cord fuse that is beyond predictable in its timing, and the explosive they use is super stable. As far as deploying it, it really is just throw and stay away. Ive used the det cord before, learned how five minutes earlier.

 

post #25 of 113

Alv, my dad was a ski patroller for 35 years, and he was not the greatest skier.  As he grew older he became more tentative as a skier but still kept patrolling.  What he was, was meticulous and thorough (he was an engineer and also worked at Boeing for 35+ years) and taught a lot of the first aid refresher courses for the volunteer patrol at Ski Acres (now Summit Central at Snoqualmie).   

 

Your skill set as an MD will be greatly valued. They will teach you what you need to be able in order to effectively patrol the slopes.  Even if you are not up to being the first responder on a double black, they will still want you on standby to treat the injured when they bring a toboggan into the first aid room.  You may even find yourself "vollunteered" as Medical Director and given other duties than patrolling the slopes.

 

A lot of the areas here use Pro Patrol only.   I think Crystal has a great crew of volunteer patrollers, always friendly and helpful.  Chatted one in the parking lot and he encouraged me to look into patrolling.  Maybe someday....

post #26 of 113

I thought the same thing when I went out for ski patrol in '98.  "Will I be good enough?"  Turned out by the time the OEC courses were done, the class size was whittled down from 20 to 3, and I was by far the best skier.  I was also the only one not a medical professional (they were both nurses).  I sensed the patrol valued their medical skills far more than my skiing skills.  If you want to do it, they'll find a way.  Just be sure that's what you want to do, because patrolling turns skiing into a job.  Can't be late in the morning, have to attend all the refresher courses.....it's fun, but it puts skiing into a different light.  I lasted a year.  I don't think they mind me being a paying customer rather than a patroller.

post #27 of 113
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by DesiredUsername View Post

A lot of the areas here use Pro Patrol only.   I think Crystal has a great crew of volunteer patrollers, always friendly and helpful.  Chatted one in the parking lot and he encouraged me to look into patrolling.  Maybe someday....


Ok, admit I don't know what "Pro Patrol" means....would assume it means qualified/certified in some way?

 

BTW sent email to the crystal patrol today, nothing back yet.  still planning on poking my head in monday if I get up there

 

post #28 of 113

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alveolus View Post

Ok, admit I don't know what "Pro Patrol" means....would assume it means qualified/certified in some way?


Paid patrollers, as opposed to volunteer.  

 

post #29 of 113

I think when I was on the Ice Coast they were just about all volunteer.  With the huge metro areas sending gobs of skiers, they could get ER docs for the price of a season pass.  Out here at least, the lower skier volume and huge distances, combined with avalanche work and a vast acreage mean they need to "pay" the patrollers.  The one guy I know makes less than my daughter who is a race coach....  And he has to be up there, unpaid until the lift opens, heaving charges around starting when the sun comes up.  There may be a sliding scale based on seniority and medical background, but, they're not making much.  

post #30 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiism View Post


Well, im sure it comes with a very specific way it needs to be constructed. Given that, the fuse they are using is a simple det cord fuse that is beyond predictable in its timing, and the explosive they use is super stable. As far as deploying it, it really is just throw and stay away. Ive used the det cord before, learned how five minutes earlier.

 


 

Are you sure you're using det cord? It has velocity of 7km/s and is itself an explosive. Maybe some other type of timed fuse?

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