Eastern New York Region
What does a Ski Patroller do?In the most basic sense, ski patrol renders first aid to injured skiers and transports them to the ski area base, sometimes into an awaiting ambulance. While this sounds relatively straightforward, injuries can range from something as simple as a cut finger to complex head injuries, to medical emergencies such as heart attack or stroke, to mass casualty incidents. In addition to first aid responsibilities, ski patrol also performs duties for prevention of injuries. These include deciding whether terrain should be open to the public, marking obstacles, closing terrain and even occasionally tracking down and disciplining reckless patrons.
What are the requirements of becoming a Ski Patroller?
It is necessary to be
or become a competent skier or snowboarder. Completion of the NSP emergency
medical technician course Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) is also required. For
the Eastern New York Region, this class is typically held in the fall from
September to December and may be several evenings each week or a combination of
week nights and weekend days for about 8-10 weeks. Reading and studying the
material between classes is necessary, this is not something you can simply
absorb during class hours. The class is a blend of lecture, discussion and
hand-on, with scenarios where the students learn and demonstrate their
proficiency with first aid techniques. The class culminates with both a written
and practical exam.
Information on regional OEC courses can be found on our Education Page
How do I get started?
The first thing a prospective candidate should do is decide where they would like to patrol. It is important to contact that mountain's Patrol Director for several reasons, first to learn what that specific area's commitments are for Candidates and Patrollers. Different ski areas have different requirements based on the length of their ski season and whether or not they offer night skiing. Patrol Directors meet with potential candidates prior to their candidate year to insure that they fully understand the commitment of being a member of the ski patrol. The director will typically assist you in finding an OEC class and also contact you when the area does their "on the hill" refresher training during the fall.
Once I pass OEC, what’s next?
Once OEC is successfully completed, the Candidate begins their "on the hill" training at their mountain. This includes outdoor training in all kinds of weather and conditions, where Candidates learn extrication techniques and practice their first aid skills on "victims" - typically other patrollers. Candidates also have the opportunity to respond to accidents with experienced patrollers, providing an extra set of hands when appropriate. Advanced skiing or riding training and toboggan training is also given, first with empty sleds and then with loaded sleds. Once again, as with the OEC class, technique practice is essential during non-training hours. Toward the end of the ski season, the Candidate will attend "Candidates Day" often at another mountain, and be tested on their first aid skills in realistic situations. A Ski and Toboggan evaluation will also be performed assessing the Candidates proficiency in the compulsory skills.
What are the costs of becoming a Ski Patroller?
There is a charge for the OEC Class and training materials and every year you will be required to pay both local and national dues. Depending on the mountain you may need to obtain a patrol parka, first aid equipment pack as well as your riding or skiing gear. As a charitable organization all your patrol related costs including transportation to and from your mountain when patrolling is tax deductible.
Is there anything else I need to know?
Being a member of the National Ski Patrol is not easy but most every member will tell you it is one of the most rewarding experiences of their life. The hours are sometimes long and you will find yourself outside in the worst weather winter has to offer but you will also be out in the best conditions. You will also develop friendships like none before and no matter what your present level of ability, you will become a dramatically better rider or skier. You will attend training clinics with world class instruction and you will give back to this community while having a great time.