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What is the Patrollers job?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
While learning to ski I frequented a little ski hill with minimal resources, thus, the patrollers were also mountain hosts, and on slope security.
I've been at other resorts where the patrollers are strictly there to attend to accidents and safety issues.

Is there a general rule of thumb as to what the patroller is expected to BE?


I've heard this debate from time to time, and I am sure that the job of the patroller depends on the Mountain/Resort rules(I could be wrong)

I honestly believe that the job also depends on the heart of the patroller and the desire to go the extra mile.
post #2 of 16
It is totally dependent of the management of the resort. The patroller is an agent of the resort, and only has the authority that the resort has conveyed.

As far as going the extra mile, if you mean helping skiers pick up their equipment after a yard sale, helping a child find his parents and other common courtesies, then it is definitely a matter of the heart of the patroller. Most of the ones I know are very helpful.
post #3 of 16
Advice for anyone considering becoming a patroller: do a bit of research into the ski areas around you to find out how each patrol works before deciding where you want to be. Definately call the patrol director. Talk to the patrollers if you can. See if you can shadow the patrol for a day to see how things work. Ask stupid questions (# of days required, does the patrol cover lodging facilities, typical daily duties, jacket and gear requirements/expenses, benefits, family oriented or not, what is the initial and ongoing training like, etc...).

I know a person or two who realized that they probably chose the wrong patrol for them half way through the OEC training, but it was too late at that point. The patrol you choose pays for the OEC class for you up front (you buy the books) and have a reasonable expectation that you will patrol there. You can't finish the class then say "oh sorry, I changed my mind and want to patrol at a different mountain."
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by eblackwelder View Post
Advice for anyone considering becoming a patroller: do a bit of research into the ski areas around you to find out how each patrol works before deciding where you want to be. Definately call the patrol director. Talk to the patrollers if you can. See if you can shadow the patrol for a day to see how things work. Ask stupid questions (# of days required, does the patrol cover lodging facilities, typical daily duties, jacket and gear requirements/expenses, benefits, family oriented or not, what is the initial and ongoing training like, etc...).

I know a person or two who realized that they probably chose the wrong patrol for them half way through the OEC training, but it was too late at that point. The patrol you choose pays for the OEC class for you up front (you buy the books) and have a reasonable expectation that you will patrol there. You can't finish the class then say "oh sorry, I changed my mind and want to patrol at a different mountain."
This is good advice all around (though not every patrol pays for the course!). A few patrol's tried to poach me near the end of my OEC course-thought about jumping but I'm very glad I didn't as every patrol is very different- some care a lot about skiing ability, some are very heavy into first aid, some want aggressive on hill cops, some have a more military like regimentation, some patrols are just outrageously busy, some get their volunteers do a lot of hill maintenance work (that would other wise be done by paid hill worker guys) etc. Different personalities flourish at different mountains as well.

As far as what is the Patrollers responsibilty-for a volunteer: First Aid, general mountain ambassadorship, helping kids and the timid, etc. Mountain "Policing" (beyond deployment of slow signs, fencing, opening and closing of trails) is up to the management of said mountain to spell out to the patrol-and as it's been said, it varies.

Personally-I have a big heart when it comes to helping the general skiing population and going the extra mile--but not so much of an inclination to be on on-hill law enforcer-and my patrol seems pretty happy with that.
post #5 of 16
My sentiments exactly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
I have a big heart when it comes to helping the general skiing population and going the extra mile--but not so much of an inclination to be on on-hill law enforcer-and my patrol seems pretty happy with that.
post #6 of 16
I was once told at a fall pep talk, we're there to protect the skier's joy.

I found it is a good principle to go by. Maximizing joy can be tough....get the powder stashes open, checking the towers quickly when a lift tower faults etc. are obvious.

Getting the kids not to screw up other's joy by smoking and swearing in the liftline, without alienating them is harder. If you bust a speeder, pull out a map and show him where he can ski fast, and tell him to go have fun. If a kid is crying, go talk to him. If someone is hurt, try to make them laugh as you pack them up. In the end your work should add up to a better day for the guests as a whole.
post #7 of 16
At our mid-sized mountain, like at most others, we work for the patrol director (who in turn works for the area operation manager). We do: First Aid/Medical, Trail Inspection (am) and Sweep (pm closing),hourly checks of all trails, signs/bamboo/etc, open/close trails for grooming or other reasons, guest services (people falling down, directions, questions, whatever - our guideline: "If we can't help you we will find you someone who can"), security on-hill and at the base/lodge/parking lot, general friendliness and helpfulness, safety awareness (restraining bars/skiing too fast in a slow area/recklessness/closed trail), lift evac, the usual stuff. Happily we don't have to be bad-guy ski cops very much (I haven't had to yank a ticket in years), but we're lucky in that we have a good clientele.

Occasionally we'll catch a little lift-line duty (if somebody is absent or late to work), chairlift load/unload, traffic control, or help with mountain operations for a special event. Sometimes we shovel snow on walkways/stairs/lodge area.

On the unusual side, over the years I've worked a couple MVA's, driven the groomer (on the green trails only...fine by me, thanks!), snowplowed the parking lot, off-area search & rescues, mutual aid response to another nearby ski area, mountain bike races, flood control, plumbing, etc.

No two days ever seem to be the same and that's what makes it so interesting! None of us much mind doing some of this stuff that is not really "ski patrol" because the ski area is VERY good to us and those folks are our friends.

nypatroller
post #8 of 16
Our specialized training is primarily in first aid, on hill transportation, avalanche control and lift evacuations. I'm sure some areas expand on this list and others do not.

Not many of us have any law enforcement training at all---most, in my experience, would be those who have law enforcement as a primary job.
post #9 of 16
While in college I was a patroller at a small hill in MN. Before my first season, during our training, it was made clear to us that our job was the safety and first aid of fallen skiers, and that the resort had it's own staff that rode around on snowmobiles making sure that folks weren't breaking the rules. The hard part of being a patroller there was that the brat kids always treated us with disrespect, because they saw us as the police of the mountain, even though we were the farthest thing from it.
post #10 of 16
I am a state park ranger and I coordinate and direct the Nordic patrol at our state park and state forest recreation area. (Same patrol, two locations) Minnesota requires that skiers on public ski areas have a "Great Minnesota Ski Pass" (Basically a trail pass.) So, in addition to trail patrol, first aid, SAR, and at the rec area, grooming the ski trails, our patrol members carry 1-day passes to sell to skiers. They cannot "enforce" the pass requirement, (That's the rangers and conservation officer's job) but they are very effective at educating skiers as to how the ski pass program benefits them, (All the money goes back to x-c ski trails and grooming.) and obtaining compliance that way.

As I said, the volunteers handle the grooming of the forest rec area trails. The DNR provides the snowmobile and a Tidd-Tech drag groomer, and brings their large Track Truk groomer over from the park about twice a month to re-set the trails. We also host a candlelight ski event, which is a fund-raiser for the patrol, and monitor the rec area campground, which is open for free ski/snowshoe/dogsled-in (no motorized) camping in the winter, and have developed, maintain and patrol the snowshoe trails in the rec area.

Also, we teach the US Forest Service's "Junior Snow Ranger" program for school-aged kids, and assist in various interpretive and community education programs in the park. We hold an "X-C Ski Pre-Season Winter Warm-up" workshop early in December each year, a "Backcountry Winter Workshop" in February, and take part in the park's "Winter Family Fun Day" in late January, teaching introductory skiing, snowshoeing and winter camping skills. (We also serve as handlers for the dogsled teams at the Fun Day.)

We also serve as a SAR resource for the county sheriff, and are the coordinating ski patrol for the City of Lakes Loppet Urban Ski Marathon in Minneapolis and patrol several other ski and snowshoe races in the region.

Probably different than most patrols, or even most Nordic patrols. We are not part of the NSP system, although we work together with the local Nordic National SKi Patrol at several events each year.

Oh, and we do mountain bike patrol in the summer.

Ski safe,
Hans
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
This has been weighing on me a bit more since the Park City decision to make reckless skiing illegal.

Is this giving the patroller the tool he needs to put teeth into the job, or is it putting more pressure and responsibility on the hard working patroller?
post #12 of 16
This is a GREAT thread. Some very interesting/valuable perspectives here, and I find that they echo many of the sentiments I have. All good stuff for someone who is going to be a candidate next season.

Trekchick - interesting question you posed. I guess it depends on who the area is relying on for on-hill enforcement of regulations. I wouldn't really want to be in those shoes - too much "interpretation" of reckless. I'm hoping that once I'm certified, it doesn't become a situation where you are "at odds" with the general public, and I see that regulation as something that will make things that way...again.
post #13 of 16
Wondering how this is playing out! The patroller is the arresting officer, the judge and the jury. Interesting!! Compared to a police officer who issues a ticket (arrest citation) only stops driving if intoxication is indicated by blowing a certain number! Or a security officer in a store where a citation is issued for minor infraction, or a qualified police officer is called in a more serious infraction!
Also is the public notified in what rules/laws apply and who the enforcement individuals and processes are? Are the Patrollers trained in rule/law enforcement? and to what standard? Alot of open questions here and is the resort/town accepting the liability issues of some of the results???
I'll put my nickel on the lawyers. Howbout you?
post #14 of 16
Don't make it into a big deal. We do "security" at our mountain, but we're obviously not cops, so we have no more real clout than a store security guard. Mostly all it takes is a "don't do that" or "what are you doing?" to shut down something that shouldn't be happening. On the hill, a little more clout, as we are "agents" of the ski area...and it IS private property and rules are posted.

In the rare case where we get a combative patron who's looking for a fight or such, we usually make sure that more than one patroller responds...preferably some of the "big" ones. And we can get the cops pretty quick with a radio call.

Yes, we do get some training in "law enforcement"...actually more like "dealing with the public". Generally a smile and a calm explanation of the problem (why you can't be permitted to do that) is sufficient. Again, usually the presence of authority/uniform is sufficient.
post #15 of 16
I like to think of a ski resort like a small town in terms of services.

Ski Patrol is the Ambulance/Paramedics and the Police...
and Lift Maintenance is the Fire department.

post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by nypatroller View Post
At our mid-sized mountain, like at most others, we work for the patrol director (who in turn works for the area operation manager). We do: First Aid/Medical, Trail Inspection (am) and Sweep (pm closing),hourly checks of all trails, signs/bamboo/etc, open/close trails for grooming or other reasons, guest services (people falling down, directions, questions, whatever - our guideline: "If we can't help you we will find you someone who can"), security on-hill and at the base/lodge/parking lot, general friendliness and helpfulness, safety awareness (restraining bars/skiing too fast in a slow area/recklessness/closed trail), lift evac, the usual stuff.
Ditto, although we only do a 1pm trail check, plus finding lost children, taxi rides for skiers over their head, or helping them down, etc
Quote:
Happily we don't have to be bad-guy ski cops very much (I haven't had to yank a ticket in years), but we're lucky in that we have a good clientele.
I think I've taken 4 tickets in 10 years, all happily taken and well deserved, IMHO.
We have security, run by a retired State trooper and manned by ex-cops, who back us up 100% when we need them, take over when the incident is more in their area of expertise, and get us out of speeding tickets. We also have ambassadors, who are stationed in the family zones doing traffic control and pretty much answer to us.

Quote:
Occasionally we'll catch a little lift-line duty (if somebody is absent or late to work), chairlift load/unload, traffic control, or help with mountain operations for a special event. Sometimes we shovel snow on walkways/stairs/lodge area.
that could possibly fall to the full-timers, I was yelled at by my PD once, when I was shovelling a walkway, him saying that we pay full-time rookies and candidates to do that. Though I have shovelled out lifts before opening, many times.

Like someone else said, every patrol is different. some get to ski their butts off, some have to man a top station, and only get a few runs a day. Some patrols send a ptroller to check on possibles, then get a patroller back-up that brings all the equipment you request, some require their patrollers to carry everything to the possible, Luckily we're the former on both. We are fairly busy, but with cutting lift lines, probably get as many runs as most customers on the average busy day.
At my hill, our basic day as a volunteer is on the hill at 7:30 to open the mountain, inspecting trails, putting up signs, etc. we then ski as much as we want carrying a radio. If we see something wrong, someone needs help or are in position to do something that comes over the radio, we take care of it. My mountain provides all our first aid supplies and jacket every few years, gives us breakfast and lunch, a season pass, a seson pass for our immediate family, discounts on day care and seasonal programs for our family, and good discount on food when we're not working(midweek). we have to do 24 W/E or holiday days a year. They do not provide ski equipment, housing or dinner to volunteers, but that is all tax deductable for us, and we get pro-form on almost everything.
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