Is becoming a ski patroller right for me?

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How to become a Ski Patroller

Becoming a ski patroller requires a combination of passion, dedication, and specialized training. It can be a challenging but rewarding career for those who love skiing or snowboarding and are committed to ensuring the safety and enjoyment of others on the mountain. Here are some general steps to becoming a ski patroller:

  • Gain skiing or snowboarding experience: Ski patrollers need to be proficient skiers or snowboarders, as they must be able to travel quickly and safely across challenging terrain. Developing advanced skills through personal skiing or snowboarding experience is a great place to start.
  • Earn certification in first aid and CPR: Ski patrollers must be trained in emergency medical care, so it's important to earn certification in first aid and CPR through a reputable provider such as the American Red Cross.
  • Complete ski patrol training: Many ski resorts offer ski patrol training programs that provide hands-on experience in areas such as avalanche safety, emergency response, and mountain safety. These programs typically require a commitment of several weeks or months.
  • Obtain avalanche safety certification: Ski patrollers may also need to complete additional training and certification in avalanche safety, as they are often responsible for conducting avalanche control work to reduce the risk of snow slides.
  • Gain experience working in outdoor or emergency medical settings: Ski patrolling is a physically and mentally demanding job, so gaining experience in related fields such as emergency medical services, wilderness medicine, or search and rescue can be beneficial.
  • Apply for ski patrol jobs: Once you have gained the necessary training and experience, you can start applying for ski patrol jobs at ski resorts or mountains. Job requirements may vary, but most ski patrol jobs require a high level of physical fitness, skiing or snowboarding ability, and emergency medical training.

There are several certifications that are commonly required or recommended for ski patrollers:

  • Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC): OEC is a training program developed by the National Ski Patrol (NSP) specifically for ski patrollers. It focuses on emergency medical care in outdoor and winter sports settings and covers topics such as patient assessment, CPR, trauma care, and spinal immobilization. OEC is a requirement for NSP membership and is also recognized by other organizations.
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): CPR is a basic life support skill that is essential for ski patrollers. Certification in CPR is typically required or recommended for ski patrol jobs.
  • Avalanche safety certifications: Ski patrollers may need to have specialized training and certification in avalanche safety. The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) offers a variety of courses and certifications in avalanche safety for professionals and recreational enthusiasts.
  • Lift evacuation training: Ski patrollers may need to be trained in lift evacuation procedures in case of a lift malfunction or other emergency.
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification: While not specifically required for ski patrolling, WFR certification is a more advanced level of emergency medical training that covers a wide range of topics and may be beneficial for ski patrollers working in remote or backcountry areas.

Certification requirements may vary depending on the ski resort or organization, so it's important to research specific requirements for the job you are interested in. In addition to these certifications, ski patrollers may also receive training in areas such as avalanche control, mountain safety, and risk management.