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Volunteer Patrolling

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I was never really aware of volunteers NSP'ers until I started coming east. I have to say - I think its a real scam the ski areas have going out here (or anywhere else with Volunteer Patrollers), I think they should all be paid. And I also wonder at the insurance and liability issues involved in patrolling if you are not an actual employee? Anyway, just curious about this - any insights or thoughts out there?
post #2 of 31
Where's Lars when you need him?
post #3 of 31
I look at it kind of like the volunteers at hospitals. I don't know about Mtn. High, but the places in LA that I go to have NSP volunteers. They just like doing it.
post #4 of 31
there was a time that the Volunteer NSP way out numbered the local patrols in most of the CA resorts. I almost applied for NSP as a college ager. More because I was interested in helping people than then other reason. I still stop to assist where I can and just avoid the medical things that might get me into liability issues unless it's critical(I would feel I have to respond, I have basic first aid and CPR training (although I need to get my certs up to date). It's too bad people just don't help people out of the kindness of their own hearts anymore and that the threat of lawsuits keep people from "getting involved".
A sad state we have created for ourselves. <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited July 09, 2001).]</FONT>
post #5 of 31
Todd you found my sore spot - THE BIG ISSUE for me as a volunteer: I'm not covered under worker's compensation, nor the resort's liability policy. I can handle out of pocket expenses to patrol, because I enjoy doing it. But when my ability to support my family is jeopardized by patrolling, I must pause. I know of a couple of people who have cited liability issues as their reasons for leaving the patrol.

As far as volunteering, personally, I'd prefer not to be paid, as my status allows me more free skiing than the hired guns who are stuck skiing from one project to another. Our pro's cover the weekdays and bust their butt's off doing all the ropes, fences, signage, pads, shoveling in addition to regular openings, closings and mountain coverage. Volly's split night shift with the pros and cover weekends. We have a couple of pros on during the weekend to run the snowmachines (liability issue). The two groups work well as a single unit and there is little if any pro/volley conflict. I understand that we are pretty fortunate for that.


post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thats what I wondered about Dirtsqueezer, thanks for the insight. I thought maybe the areas could slide out of responsibility by having volunteers (besides sliding out of paying wages!). Having been ski area middle management before though - and having to unfortunately deal with legal issues. I'm pretty sure they (the ski areas) are on very shaky ground there. I'm not one for frivilous lawsuits - but if I was acting as a representative for the ski area, paid or not. Wearing a uniform and assisting guests . . . and was hurt in the normal line of duty, you can bet damn well that the area would either take care of it or end up in court! And I think they would settle quietly rather than go to trial, hoping all the other volunteers didn't notice. I'll bet this has already happened before in fact!
post #7 of 31
That's based on my limited experience with one patrol. I'd love to hear what kind of exposure other patrollers face. Different bennie's at different mountains.


post #8 of 31
The volunteer patrollers that I know are a dedicated lot.

Two times this year I had to track one of my buddies down on "free ski" days because we needed extra coverage due to poor race conditions.

Never flinched more than a "aw jeez", got his jacket an pack and went to work. He got "comped" with tickets that I know that he's too darn busy to use.

These folks work their tails off from the minute the bus tours pull in....... they sure don't do it for the free ski time.
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
I know they work their tails off and some are highly trained. . . the ski areas must love it, they are making out on that arrangement!
post #10 of 31
Mt. High is the first place in years where I have worked which "employs" vols. Most are highly trained in emergency med training, as most are para's and firemen living in Wrightwood with their families, doing their "tour of duty" down the hill in LA, then splitting time up in the mountains. The skiing is pretty weak (I take that as our {SS} mandate to correct) and there is always a show up issue with vols., but these guys are dedicated.
I am in agreement with Todd, and SAM always seems to whistle past exposure issues.
My question is...what was Minnie Dole thinking when he picked the uni colours? Was he color blind...obviously, he did not consult his wife!
post #11 of 31
Just thought I would chime in here and clarify a few things.

Volunteer patrollers, members of National Ski Patrol, are all highly trained 1st Responders. Technically, the title (at least here in Washington) is Outdoor Emergency Care Technician. Our training is the *equivalent* of EMT Basic - (we cannot perform invasive procedures such as injections, IVs, or tracheotomy). We are all certified in CPR for the Professional Rescuer (adults, children and infants). Most of us take pride in our skills, and we all re-certify every year in OEC and CPR.

From an "exposure" standpoint, volunteer patrollers are (almost) universally protected by "Good Samaritan" laws, meaning that unless GROSS negligence occurs (Gonzo or any other legal types can define that), we cannot be held liable for rendering first aid. The same holds true if, for instance, we stop to help at an auto accident.

The major difference between volunteer patrollers and pro patrollers: a PROFESSIONAL 1st responder can be held liable, and in most cases must carry some form of insurance (or the area must carry insurance on them).

Volunteer patrollers are usually compensated in the form of discounted or free season passes for themselves and in some cases for their families.

While many pro patrollers are Paramedics or EMTs in their *other* jobs, in no way does that mean you'll receive superior care from them or sub-standard care from a "volly"... we all work to the same end and the same level of care.

For me, being a volunteer patroller is a way for me to give back to the skiing community some of the many blessings of a lifetime of skiing. It is also a way for me to help support the skiing habits of my family (although I spent as much on uniforms and equipment as I would have on season passes).

Judging from the time commitment for all that training and all those shifts patrolling, some would call us crazy...

post #12 of 31
Mikla - that is kind of interesting. I wouldn't think that Pro-patrollers would be held to any higher standard for liability than volunteers as we all perform services at the OEC level (always exceptions, I know). However, as paid employees, pro's are covered under the resort's liability policy, where volunteers may not be (hopefully there are plenty of exceptions ?). That's what makes me uncomfortable. Granted, the good Samaritan law protects me to a great extent, but the resort and their underwriter have no obligation to defend volunteers who are specifically excluded from liability coverage. Mikla - as a volly are you covered under your resorts liability? Just wondering if I'm the exception or not. This has also been kicked around a little over at the NSP forum, one of the risk management guys gave some references that I need to check into.

[edit] - got off track here....

Ack, I'd rather talk about the fun and satisfaction of patrolling, instead of the CYA issues.


-DS-<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dirtsqueezer (edited July 10, 2001).]</FONT>
post #13 of 31
I don't think it's a "higher standard"... it's a distinction the law makes between "volunteer" and professional. If people who were helping out of the goodness of their heart were held liable for trying to help someone, who would be willing to assist the ill and injured?

I will have to ask about our area's liability coverage...

also, I believe that many would help even if there weren't good samaritan laws. I couldn't stand by or walk away while someone bleeds to death.

post #14 of 31
Interesting, your read of the good samaritan law is what I read of it too but just in the past few years I think it was challenged in court and a judge/jury actually decided that the "good samaritan protection" didn't apply to someone because they were "not qualified" in the assistance they gave. That's scary. If I save someone's live but break a rib in the process of performing CPR and it punctures a lung for instance (I could be doing everything right but the victim had a cracked rib?) they sue for medical and loss of work time due to recovery time for this injury all because my certification has lapsed.. (I think this was the lawsuit that made national headlines recently) I would sure think twice about helping someone if I had the chance to think about it. Fortunatly there is usually little time to think about it when in the situation and I would have to react. meaning I would most likely take action.
post #15 of 31
Oh also I think the lawsuit finally got overturned in an appeal but talk about the stress and expense of defending yourself. Talk about ungrateful victim... Save a life get sued for breaking an arm. long trial, big expense,.....
post #16 of 31
Mikla - I still don't follow you. I'm not aware of distinctions or exceptions in the good Samaritan laws between pros and volleys. I understand good Sam laws covered all people regardless of training or pay status, on duty or off.

The liability issue goes beyond the good Sam laws and patient care. Hypothetically, say a volunteer patroller drops an ice drill off the chair and injures a guest. The injured party could file a claim against the mountain, the patroller, the drill manufacturer, and the mechanic who put his snow tires on the car. Arguably, the resort and the guy who dropped the drill may the most exposure here. If the volly is not covered by the liability policy, the resort and the underwriter don't have any obligation to support the volly unless it suits their needs.

Haven't even touched on worker's comp…..


post #17 of 31
Good news. We covered risk management in our refresher today. I was absolutely wrong regarding my mountain’s liability coverage for volunteer patrollers. The resort’s liability policy is extended to volunteer patrollers on duty. I’m glad I was off the mark!!
post #18 of 31
post #19 of 31
If you can't make money or an enemy SCSA would find it boring.

I hope you never need one, if they recognize you after that comment you'll be on a sled ride from hell............ NAH, those guys won't stoop to your level.

Why don't you try to hustle them for a NSP hat to keep next to your NYPD hat?
post #20 of 31
SCUMA (or WHATEVER): Maybe to some fool who's never had to be hauled off the slopes. A number of the participants here are active volunteer patrollers interested in comparing notes (one of the attractions of internet forums: Information Exchange). Most of the rest of us have a stake in their attitudes. If you don't like the messages, QUIT READING instead of showing off your banality.
post #21 of 31
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SCSA:

Personal Liability?
post #22 of 31
I'm a rookie volunteer patroller at Smuggler's Notch. Our first OEC class was given by a local lawyer who went into appropriate detail about liability. The punch line was that we were protected, especially by the good samaritan laws, as long as we were not grossly negligent in performing some treatment for which we were not trained/authorized. Patrolling is great. I'm compensated with a family pass, but there are other compensations. The medical training of course allows me to help injured skiers on the slope, but, in addition, I carry this knowledge with me always. Suppose my kid gets gravely injured, I'll know what to do. Also, the patrol teaches me how to ski everywhere on the mountain, under all conditions. At our mountain, they've been detailing an instructor to the patrol every saturday for any members that want a session. The patrol is the first on the mountain in the morning, last off in the evening, and we don't wait in lift lines. I never learned more or skied more than I did this last year. Prior to the patrol, I mostly skied alone. Now, instant gang. Way cool.

"Many are cold, but few are frozen"
post #23 of 31
Hey MPH - Nice to meet ya! We just finished up our refresher this weekend. Was good to see the crew again and spend a day on the Mountain. Went down to the local brewpub for dinner and bevs, I’m getting the itch now.
post #24 of 31
Why thank you, DtSqzr, same to you. That's an early refresher. For the non-patrollers: a refresher weekend happens every fall, every montain, to review 1/3 (I think) of the medical stuff. A patroller can attend at any mountain, in case (s)he's not able to go to the home mountain, since the material is the same, nationwide. Oh, yes, I am jonesinggg. I've already made a number of calls re [img]tongue.gif[/img]roform deals.
post #25 of 31
As many of you know I'm a retired cop.I was cross trained as an EMT when I was working. Lived in Canada for a while when my wife went on a company transfer and I could not do any kind of work.

Patrolled for the CSP. Volunteered. Hated it. Too much like the military. I was impressed by the level of their training. It is really a thankless job.
post #26 of 31
Mr. Potatoehead,

Glad to hear you're enjoying patrolling! Boy this brings back great memories for me. NSPS patrollers tend to keep a low profile and just do their job without fanfare. Let me blow the horn for NSPS patrollers out there. I'm a former NSPS patroller (Rust parka/yellow cross) and trainer from NH in the 60s. We trained patrols from NH,MA,&VT. As you are well aware, we always picked the worst snow conditions for our training and testing. Result? patrollers who were solid skiers that could ski anything. We had a 25 man volunteer patrol for our two mountains, with two paid patrolmen during the week. Although we had our own mountain, we all had to be available to patrol in small rope tow areas as well. Likewise, we trained in more things then First-Aid. We encouraged our patrollers to take NSPS avalanche rescue training and get the "Circle A" patch. Avalanches commonly occur in NH's Tuckerman's Ravine, and in those days NSPS had a patrol there. For our patrol,I taught self-evacuation out of lifts that had stopped, i.e. rappeling. We all carried our own lift evacuation gear in our packs. This enabled patrollers, in stopped lifts, to get to the ground and evacuate skiers from the chairs. When the temperature is minus 35 F or minus 45F, with the wind blowing, skiers don't live too long in stopped lifts. Likewise, we also trained in off-mountain rescues, i.e. skier skis off the trail and travels into the woods and breaks his neck. We used NSPS Norm Osborne's procedure on handling broken necks and backs. If people with broken necks are moved incorrectly they can be killed instantly. We showed patrollers how to rig lines through the trees to the skier for the Stokes litter. Carabiners and a pull line were then rigged to help pull the Stokes litter w/skier up to the trail to the toboggan. While the rigging was being done, other patrollers were practising how to unwind the skier from a tree, while maintaining neck traction, and place him on a backboard and then on the Stokes litter. I'm happy to say that five of our trained patrollers, saved a skier's life in just this situation. In that case,before doing anything, the patrollers placed a space blanket on the injured skier to keep him warm. Then another patroller was placed around a tree just like the injured skier. They practiced and practiced unwinding the skier from the tree for hours while maintaining neck traction. They all knew the skier's life was in their hands. When they were ready, they made one move and placed him correctly on the backboard on the Stokes. This training worked like a charm and that skier is alive today because of the training those patrollers received. We also had medical doctors on the patrol that went through our cold weather training and learned techniques they never had in med school. The NSPS is a great organization and its patrollers are the best trained! It was a distinct honor for me to be a member of NSPS. My skiing buddies now are all ex-NSPS. I might add that the founder of NSPS, Minnie Dole, got President Roosevelt to start the 10th Mountain Division during the WWII. Then the NSPS helped recruit and train people for the 10th.

post #27 of 31
Not trying to stir the pot here but....If you are paying above a certain dollar figure to ski at an area they owe you professional ski patrolling services. Nothing against the NSP or any vollies out there. They fufill a role at smaller areas but when you visit a full service resort that is exactly what you should get.
Why not volunteer lift operators or volunteer ski instructors??? Hell, why not volunteer lawyers for that matter.
Above a certain level, professional ski patrollers are better trained and better equiped to perform as professional rescuers.
That said, if you feel the urge to try volunteer ski patrolling, you will get out of it what you put into it.
post #28 of 31
BSR raises a good point - then again we could have the european model where if you don't have mountain insurance, you are on you own for rescue and first aid. Many of us in rural areas still pay taxes and get volunteer ambulance and firefighting services.
post #29 of 31

your attitude is sickening. We all know, thanks to your monstrously large ego, that you have made a lot of money in a short period of time, and can afford to ski 70+ days per year while still having "a job" of whatever sort you have.

We also know that you revere Harb second to money.

Is it fulfilling to worship those false idols? What will comfort you on your deathbed? The thought that you made lots of money? The thought that you were an unpaid shill for PMTS?

I pity you.
post #30 of 31
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