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Instructors not allowed to pick children up off ground

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

This is my first post, I hope I am not violating any rules by posting here. 

I am a ski instructor at a small Colorado ski area.  I mean no disrespect to any person or organization.  I do not mean to rant, rather I am curious about what the forum thinks about an issue that recently came up at my mountain.

Management has stated as a matter of policy, that no instructors are allowed to pick up children, due to several instructors injuring themselves picking up kids recently.

This includes small children as young as three or four. 

I believe that this policy is incredibly stupid, and impossible to follow.  I would like to hear some opinions and thoughts on the matter. 

post #2 of 25
That's just dumb. How much could a little kid weigh lol
post #3 of 25

So what if small child can not get up under their own power? I've been lifting kids,sit-skis,weight challenged folks for years. I can see Managements dilemma but that's not going to work.

post #4 of 25

Welcome to Epic Squirrel!

 

You are certainly not violating any of Epic's rules. You may find that resorts monitor social media for negative comments about the resort and take disciplinary action when employees make such comments. Check your employee handbook if you have one. My resort added such a notice to their handbook this year. My guess is that as long as you don't mention the resort name in the post, they won't notice it or complain.

 

I will assist students to get up many times throughout a season. But I have been taught that lifting students up is not necessary and that students need to learn to get up on their own anyway. In my experience, helping some students to get up speeds the learning process and that having them learn to get up on their own when they are ready to better fits the PSIA stepping stones model of instruction.

 

I have seen some pros perform "magic" when teaching children.  They never need to lift kids and never have any discipline problems. When I do the "same" things, I don't get the same results. So I'm sympathetic to management believing that you never "have" to help students get up. However, it has been my experience that prohibiting pros from doing this leads to lousy lessons if magic lessons are not first successfully taught to the pro. I've been taught those lessons. I'm better, but I'm far from perfect.

 

After 18 seasons teaching, I've seen many changes in management and corresponding "rules" changes. Whether rules are stupid or good, experienced pros know that their are times when rules need to be followed and times when rules need to be broken. My experience of "stupid rules are made to be broken" often gets tempered by "at least try to not violate the intent" (e.g.. be very careful if you're going to help people get up), "don't be blatant about it" (e.g. don't break it in front of the rule maker) and don't beat a dead horse (e.g. if the rule is really stupid, it will die with little help).  

 

When one has "served" time in management, one will inevitably catch oneself implementing something that one knows will look "really stupid". Sometimes one can share the real reasons why the thing is really smart and must be done, sometimes one can't. Sometimes one is correct that the thing is really smart, sometimes one isn't. A good manager will implement a rule that he does not believe in (but has been forced to implement) without letting the staff know his position. So the least we can do is be sympathetic that many decisions are a result of "damned if we do and damned if we don't" scenarios. Thus I do my best to get my job done well without creating injury paperwork for the boss to handle.

 

post #5 of 25

Duhhh!!  rolleyes.gif  Perhaps some training in how to pick up people from the snow would be in order.  Look at all the businesses that have people picking up heavy dead weight all the time.  Its a part of life.  What happens if a kid just can't or won't get up?  Are you suppose to leave them there on the snow?

 

Woo, I can see the parents now, "You wouldn't help my 4 year old stand up.  You jerks, I'm taking my family to a more family oriented mountain.mad.gif"  Of course they won't say this, they just won't come back.

 

One absurd note.wink.gif  Does this mean that ski patrolers can't pick up people too?  After all the patroler might get injured.

post #6 of 25

I think that's ridiculous, at the very least leave it up to the discretion of the ski instructor.

post #7 of 25

Seems nuts.  The whole class is going to wait there while 4 year old Samantha insists she needs to get picked up?  I've known (and had) a kid like this.  I, of course, knew how to motivate the slacker (tell her I guess that Ski Patrol would need to come, not sure why that worked). 

 

It would make far more sense to teach you how AND WHOM to lift.

post #8 of 25

Maybe this is a rule meant to be ignored.  Then if someone hurts their back, well... they were violating policy!

post #9 of 25

I think there needs to be some clarification of "off the ground"

whether this means,  

help up (ground to standing)  or literally carrying children so they are "off the ground"

 

I've definitely seen some instructors once or twice lift up and carry down a small child in their arms who had enough for the day.  And this is by far a different situation then helping someone from the ground to standing but the student still making it down on their own 2 feet.

I can definitely see how an instructor carrying a kid down the rest of the slope is a potential safety issue, and much different then helping someone get to standing from a fall.

post #10 of 25

Better to teach people how to do the inevitable safely than expect such a declaration to be workable. I guess if you want to provide the least amount of effort spent and lessen the value of instruction than make it so. 

 

On one hand  kids do need to learn effective methods to getting themselves back on their feet for their own good but in the beginner class lessons for the smaller ones it's best to get them on their feet and keep the lesson moving. 

 

i try to balance the needs of the fallen with the needs of those who are not. Some I tell to work it out others i scoop up and help them keep my lesson moving at a nice pace.

 

If I was ordered to take this kind of non action i would be sad for many of the students for the time lost and value not delivered to them as we wait for them when a little helping hand might keep their sprits higher


Edited by GarryZ - 1/2/12 at 8:53am
post #11 of 25

So the little bugger falls face down in the snow with his skis in a big X ...and then what?  Take his skis off, let him fumble until he finally stands after a couple more falls, put the skis on, then look for the rest of the kids that ought'a be in the class but are now lost in the crowd?

 

Or, grab the kid under the armpits, your legs wide, and pick him up, let him dangle until his skis point straight, and put him down.  Tell him what a great fall it was and get on with the lesson.  Teach self reliance when possible and help when necessary.  Because it is official policy, you gott'a do it, and figure out the best way to proceed.

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

I appreciate every body's insight.  I found Rusty's comment particularly thoughtful.  There is a need for management to balance the needs of the resort and the risks involved. 

I don't know if this applies too patrol, or lift operators who may need to help tangled skiers move out of the way.

There are a million scenarios where it will be absolutely necessary to pick up a small child, like when the child gets tangled in a fence, or falls on a surface lift. 

One of my biggest concerns is that if an instructor needs to pick a child up, and somehow injures themselves.  They are at risk of losing their job, as well as possible denial of workers comp. 

post #13 of 25

I was skiing with my wife who is just learning to ski.  With no snow here the off-ramp on the beginner's chair seems like a good 45 degrees.   Just in front of us a 3 to 4 year old fell getting off with his instructor right next to him.  Instead of picking him up and moving him out of the way the instructor just stood there asking politely for the crying kid to get up!

 

In the meantime the stoned-ass lift operator didn't stop the lift until it was too late and my wife nearly took out the kid as she came down, falling hard to her left to avoid him, almost knocking me into a pole to my left also.

 

While this was more the lift operator's fault IMO, the instructor should have also been attentive enough to see what was happening and pull that kid out of danger.  This could have been a total disaster!!!  No time for PC BS in these types of emergency situations!

 

 

 

 

post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovethesteeps View Post
 No time for PC BS in these types of emergency situations!


Agreed, However this is not about PC. This is about people behind desks making decisions based on numbers, rather then on what happens at the level where the actual work happens.

 

post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave W View Post



Agreed, However this is not about PC. This is about people behind desks making decisions based on numbers, rather then on what happens at the level where the actual work happens.

 


Yes these decisions are based on numbers, in this case the units are dollars. When ski areas look at injuries and how they happen they will try to limit the future accidents. Ski areas are businesses and it does come down in the end to money. My mountain has paid tons of money out to employees that should never have gotten hurt. I have no problem with the rule but if you do go work somewhere else.  

 

If a child has to constantly take a ski off to stand up they will learn pretty quickly and the rule some areas are instituting is not that you can't "help" they child stand up just that you cant pick them up. Help can be all sorts of things. Taking a ski off or offering a hand so they can pull themselves up.

 

post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Seems nuts.  The whole class is going to wait there while 4 year old Samantha insists she needs to get picked up?  I've known (and had) a kid like this.  I, of course, knew how to motivate the slacker (tell her I guess that Ski Patrol would need to come, not sure why that worked). 

 

It would make far more sense to teach you how AND WHOM to lift.



If the kids isnt freaking out I do exactly what my parents did to me when I tried to run away. Turn around and walk the other way while keeping an eye on me. There was no one time as small kid I never came back.

95 percent of kids who have been shown several way to get up will get up to catch up.

post #17 of 25

I would think a simple solution would be a "pick a child up at your own risk" rule.

In other words, the resort could have a written policy that instructors can pick up kids all they want, but if the instructor is injured doing so, Worker's Comp will not cover the injury and there will be no other compensation for the injury.

The resort is covered, and instructors can act according to their own tolerance for risk when the question of picking up a kid presents itself.

 

post #18 of 25

I recall a scene from an old Warren Miller movie where a liftie is pulling fallen people out of the lift dump off point. Throwing skis aside while skidding all sizes out of the way. Too funny for words.

post #19 of 25

The bottom line in this whole situation is just that.. the bottom line. The ski area is trying to protect theirs by limiting workers comp claims. However, the unintended consequence of this policy is going to be a precipitous drop in revenue from lessons and from family ticket sales. The biggest rule in teaching a kids lesson is to keep the kids moving and occupied. Some kids will not pick up the skill of getting up independently immediately. And even those who do, the process of getting themselves up will usually take a little while at first. So while that kid is getting up, the other kids are standing around. Getting bored. Getting cold. Getting cranky. Not wanting to ski. By an hour into the lesson, many instructors will find their kids imploding. Those kids won't come back to ski again tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year. That's a potential lifetime customer, lost. Oh, and you just lost that kid's family as customers as well. Rather than prohibiting the practice, teach instructors how to do it right.

post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryel View Post

I recall a scene from an old Warren Miller movie where a liftie is pulling fallen people out of the lift dump off point. Throwing skis aside while skidding all sizes out of the way. Too funny for words.



If you want your skis - go get em!

post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by flying squirrel View Post

I appreciate every body's insight.  I found Rusty's comment particularly thoughtful.  There is a need for management to balance the needs of the resort and the risks involved. 

I don't know if this applies too patrol, or lift operators who may need to help tangled skiers move out of the way.

There are a million scenarios where it will be absolutely necessary to pick up a small child, like when the child gets tangled in a fence, or falls on a surface lift. 

One of my biggest concerns is that if an instructor needs to pick a child up, and somehow injures themselves.  They are at risk of losing their job, as well as possible denial of workers comp. 


If you are in a situation where you need to break a rule to prevent a guest from injury, it would take really bad management to bust you versus thank you. That said, if I was only covered by workman's comp, I'd have to think twice before acting in an emergency and that's a bad thing in my book. I'm glad I work at a resort where "helping a guest" is like a "get out of jail free" card. But sometimes I will enforce a bad rule to help kill it. For example, if management was not sympathetic to the downside of the rule and if I found a guest tangled in a fence, I'd just say "sorry - I have to call patrol to get help for you".  Like the movie The Caine Mutiny where the ship captain (Bogie) orders a turn and then the helmsman proceeds to let ship come full circle and cut a tow line (because Bogie is too busy to hear objections), sometimes the best way to change the situation is to follow orders. The movie's moral is that there is a fine line here, but that professionals need to look at the larger picture and go the extra mile to help management get the best results.

 

You're right squirrel. You could even get run into by an out of control guest while picking up a student and get busted for that. One would hope that you would not get fired or covered by workman's comp for one incident, but it could happen. This is where communication and trust between management and staff makes the difference between good and bad results.

post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryel View Post

I recall a scene from an old Warren Miller movie where a liftie is pulling fallen people out of the lift dump off point. Throwing skis aside while skidding all sizes out of the way. Too funny for words.



Here you go.  See 1:19 for the ski tossing and don't forget the "kick in the butt" scene at the end.

 


Edited by quant2325 - 1/3/12 at 10:10am
post #23 of 25

I thought that's all instructors did anyway is pick up fat kids.

post #24 of 25

Are you still allowed to knock kids down to the ground?  That'd be the deal breaker for me.

post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iceage View Post

My mountain has paid tons of money out to employees that should never have gotten hurt. I have no problem with the rule but if you do go work somewhere else.  

 

If a child has to constantly take a ski off to stand up they will learn pretty quickly and the rule some areas are instituting is not that you can't "help" they child stand up just that you cant pick them up. Help can be all sorts of things. Taking a ski off or offering a hand so they can pull themselves up.

 

I completely agree that it is my choice to work there or not.  I also agree that I work with plenty of bone-headed employees.

I have to admit that I have not asked if "helping" a student by offering a hand is considered picking a kid up.

When were talking three and four year olds, they can barely walk in their ski boots let alone take a ski off and stand up.
 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post

The bottom line in this whole situation is just that.. the bottom line. The ski area is trying to protect theirs by limiting workers comp claims. However, the unintended consequence of this policy is going to be a precipitous drop in revenue from lessons and from family ticket sales.


As much as I want to agree with you, I don't think this would ever happen.  No instructor is really going to follow this rule.  There won't be any problems until somebody gets hurt, and management denies their claim.  While I ultimately hope that the (hypothetically) injured employee would win in court.  Maybe a better solution is ...The Caine Mutiny!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post


If you are in a situation where you need to break a rule to prevent a guest from injury, it would take really bad management to bust you versus thank you. That said, if I was only covered by workman's comp, I'd have to think twice before acting in an emergency and that's a bad thing in my book. I'm glad I work at a resort where "helping a guest" is like a "get out of jail free" card. But sometimes I will enforce a bad rule to help kill it. For example, if management was not sympathetic to the downside of the rule and if I found a guest tangled in a fence, I'd just say "sorry - I have to call patrol to get help for you".  Like the movie The Caine Mutiny where the ship captain (Bogie) orders a turn and then the helmsman proceeds to let ship come full circle and cut a tow line (because Bogie is too busy to hear objections), sometimes the best way to change the situation is to follow orders. The movie's moral is that there is a fine line here, but that professionals need to look at the larger picture and go the extra mile to help management get the best results.

 

You're right squirrel. You could even get run into by an out of control guest while picking up a student and get busted for that. One would hope that you would not get fired or covered by workman's comp for one incident, but it could happen. This is where communication and trust between management and staff makes the difference between good and bad results.


I think our management, (while not entirely their fault, as it comes from higher up), would probably not be sympathetic.

I love the idea of The Caine Mutiny!  

Imagine all of the instructors getting together on a really busy holiday (say MLK) and following this rule to the letter.  "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to pick up little Johnny, it's against the rules." 

The only problem is that I can't figure out a way to do this that wouldn't hurt the kids.

 

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