You can see them on ski slopes from one coast to the other, doing the job of patrolling since the 1940s .
But do we really know what the Canadian Ski Patrol does?
“I guess we are the standard for first aid and safety across the whole of Canada,” said Richard Hornby, vice president of education for the CSP.
There are about 5,000 ski patrollers of all ages right across the country covering various zones including the Mountain Division which encompasses Central Alberta as well as Calgary and Edmonton. Depending on the year you will find between 50-70 patrollers in this region with the bulk of them working the hill at Canyon Ski Resort east of Red Deer, said Hornby.
“Our main mission is to actually promote skier safety on the hill but as part of that we also deal with the first aid part of things with incidents that occur on the hill. We basically go to those incidents, treat those people, evacuate them from the hill and then pass it along to the chain that exists in terms of medical response in our province.”
These patrollers are essentially the first responders to what can happen on the hill and so their first aid training is a step up from what the average citizen might take within a course.
“Each year every patroller has to go through a national written exam, they have to go through a national diagnostic exam and they also have to go through a demonstration of skills,” he said of the test which rotates those skills each year.
“One year it might be a broken femur, one year it might be a broken clavicle, that kind of thing so over the course of three or four years you pretty much cover many of the scenarios that we actually see on the ski hill.”
In addition to this training ski patrollers will also have some expertise in CPR oxygen therapy, airway management and blood pressure technology.
Hornby says for the most part the training is basic in most instances but the x-factor in all this is the environment in which they work on a regular basis.
“Our first aid takes place on a very slippery place with lots of snow and it’s often cold. Stuff often happens when it’s really cold. But we also practice on slopes that are 30 degrees beside trees and those sorts of things because our specialty is being able to work in that outdoor environment that constitutes a ski hill.”
The Red Deer Zone is hosting a recruitment night Oct. 7th and 8th at Firemaster, 4728 78A St. Cl. in Red Deer.