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A different perspective: Titus Mountain Ski Patrol as told by Ron Jeror, Head of Titus Ski Patrol.
Being a member of the NATIONAL SKI PATROL is both rewarding and challenging. As patrollers we are called on to handle all medical situations that arise on the mountain. It is a responsibility that we train rigorously for and one that we take very seriously.
Training to become a National Ski Patroller is a long and involved process that starts long before the ski season starts. Here at the Titus Mountain Ski Patrol (a registered unit of the National Ski Patrol) we start our new candidate class usually the last week in September. At that time all new candidates begin the classroom portion of the OUTDOOR EMERGENCY CARE (OEC) COURSE. This course is the equivalent of the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) basic course and covers all the same material as well as some material not covered in the EMT course. The environment in which we work as ski patrollers is unique and it is this environment that demands the added material. It is one thing, for example, to apply a splint to a possible leg fracture on level ground. It is quite another matter, however, to apply that same splint on the icy pitch of a black diamond trail during a snow storm. The classroom portion of the OEC course consists of approximately 100 hours as well as training in professional rescuer CPR and AED certification. After completing the classwork students must take and pass a 100 question written exam created by the medical team at the National Ski Patrol. The exam covers everything from body systems to medical assessment, advanced life-saving skills and extrication, among other things.
Once the classroom portion is successfully completed the real fun begins. When we finally get to the ski season we take the training outside for the hands-on portion of the training. The instructor team plans and stages accident scenes and the candidates are required to treat those scenes as if they were real accidents with real patients. If you ski on Saturday mornings it is likely that you have seen us working through these scenarios. This portion of the training consists of approximately 50-60 hours and ends around the middle of March with a practical exam, also created by the education office of the National Ski Patrol. During all of this training candidates are also required to ski one 8-hour shift per week. This weekly shift also consists of further on-the-job training during which they learn our local protocols and procedures.
NSP training does not end with the medical portion. All candidates are also required to attend a 6-week course in Outdoor Emergency Transportation (OET). During this course candidates are trained to sharpen their skiing technique as well as in the handling of rescue toboggans. It is with these rescue toboggans that patients are transported off the mountain where they can then be handed off to a higher level of medical care. After all, it does little good to splint an injured leg if we cannot then get you to the bottom of the hill.
If you have skied for any length of time at all you have no doubt experienced a stopped chairlift. Along with our medical and transport duties it also falls to us to get you safely out of the chairlift in the event that they cannot get it re-started. While it is true that this is an extremely rare occurrence, it is also an important part of what we do. As ski patrollers we are trained in chairlift evacuation. Using specialized equipment, we get you safely out of the chairlift and back onto solid ground. If you have ever been to our annual OKTOBERFEST you have likely seen us do a demonstration of this.
Once a candidate passes all aspects of the training they are then awarded the title of Alpine Patroller and given the right to wear the cross. Their training, however, is ongoing. Every year we are all required to re-certify in all areas in which we are trained. Though the re-certification process is much shorter, it helps ensure that no matter what kinds of injuries or accidents we encounter we are equipped to handle the situations. It also helps keep us up to date on the latest medical practices.
If all of this sounds like fun and you think you have what it takes then perhaps you would like to join our ranks. Do you think you have what it takes to wear the cross?
THE TITUS MOUNTAIN SKI PATROL is an organization comprised of all volunteers. We are a registered unit of the National Ski Patrol.
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