The Silver Star Ski Patrol may not be making their appointed rounds of the mountain yet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t working hard to prepare for the upcoming 2004-2005 ski season. The Silver Star Patrol is made up of 20 pro patrollers and 110 volunteer members. The Patrol is also augmented by 15 local doctors and 18 off-duty RCMP officers.
Starting November 3, the pro patrol is set to begin a 2-week rigorous training schedule that will be conducted both in and outdoors. Some of the topics addressed will be helicopter training, avalanche safety, rope rescue, lift evacuations, and conducting search and rescue efforts. The twenty paid pro patrollers (up from eighteen last season) will also receive First-Aid training in pulse oximetry, as well as training in glucometer usage to treat diabetics more effectively. What’s more, Chad Dietz, the Patrol Director, will be addressing other serious conditions such as persons with anaphylaxis (food allergies) and guests with shortness of breath. Says Chad: “We really want to do our best to make Okanagan residents feel safe and secure on the mountain. A Patrol staff trained to proactively deal with problems as they arise is essential to any resort.”
All paid patrollers have credentials in Advanced Peak Emergency Medical Training in addition to their mandatory Occupational First Aid Level III certification.
Aside from the pro patrollers, there are numerous others who offer the mountain their time, energy, and special services on a volunteer basis. Fifteen medical doctors contribute their time and effort on a variety of levels. Dietz says, “The pro patrol is constantly drawing upon their practical knowledge and their presence on the hill ensures a maximum amount of guest safety, which is comforting to all.” Doctors are on duty all weekends and holidays, as well as various times during the weekdays.
Another indispensable group of volunteers is the eighteen RCMP officers who deal with fraud, theft, and unruly customers on the mountain. They help to maintain a level of protection at Silver Star that helps augment the Village’s security cameras. Look for them on the hill this year in their highly visible blue and yellow ski suits.
Finally, the CSPS (Canadian Ski Patrol System) has 110 volunteer members who come from many diverse backgrounds. Each “volly” undergoes 64 hours of training prior to the mountain’s opening and works 15 days of the ski season. So the combined hours of 110 vollys amounts to 13,330 hours of total volunteer time for one winter season.
So what will be the main focus of the patrol department this year? Chad says that “risk management and guest safety is the top of our list. We’re making sure that the trails are marked with ample signage and fencing and that speed control is enforced at all times.” But he comments that what is most important is “to foresee potential hazards on the hill before they culminate in a possible injury.”
Winter is well underway at the Star with a 70 centimetre base that is steadily rising. Dietz is excited about the upcoming season and encourages everyone to visit the mountain upon opening. Says Chad, “There’s lots of snow on the ground right now so it looks like it’s going to be a fantastic season. Hope to see you at the bottom of the lift or out on the slopes.”