Working conditions of ski patrol

Since the ski patroller is involved with rescue operations, he must be willing to do his job under hazardous working conditions.

Law enforcement
The aim in ski rescue work is to prevent accidents and the ski patroller thus must enforce the rules for safe skiing activities. In a given situation, the worker will for example, introduce himself to the offender and try to discuss the dangers of the situation in a friendly matter. If a skier is drunk, the patroller must be able to calm the skier and not cause a scene. The next step would for instance, to call in the resort management who will send security to escort the skier of the mountain if he persists on skiing while under the influence of alcohol.

Snowboarding has become very popular in recent years and the ski patroller should not now not only be able to ski well, but should also be an excellent snowboarder to be able to understand the dangers associated with the sport. The rescue worker must be physically strong and fit since he has to carry rescue equipment and still be able to ski. Apart from this, he sometimes needs to carry an injured person down the mountain.

Dangerous working conditions
The ski patroller on occasion has to deal with a patient who doesn't realize the extent of his injuries. Such a person may have a broken arm or leg and refuses to be helped. Persistence and a great deal of negotiation skills are required to handle the situation and the ski patroller must be able to assess the situation and take appropriate steps to get control. Apart from this, the rescue worker must be assertive even towards doctors who may arrive at a scene. For this reason the ski rescue worker must be knowledgeable in emergency procedures and know when a diagnosis or treatment will endanger a patient.

Weather conditions
The working conditions can change dramatically during one day. The mountains can be dangerous during the winter seasons with many snow falls and unpredictable weather conditions. Your day may start sunny but can end in pouring rain. You are still sweating while carrying heave rescue gear up the mountain, and next moment get caught in a snow or rain storm.

Seasons and shifts
A ski patroller works shifts and is sometimes required to work during the night. The day rescue patrol team is on the mountain early morning to check for potential dangers, setting up ski areas and making the slopes safe. Apart from the normal mountain duties, you are also on standby for emergency rescues, even during your off time. Although the shifts are long, adequate breaks are given and many of the rescue workers use the off time for mountaineering, shopping and skiing. You can use the summer time to work as a guide or ski shop assistant.

Additional duties

In large scale rescue efforts, more than one patrol team can be called in. This means that you may have to travel to another part of the country to assist in hazardous rescue operations on short notice. Many of the ski resorts require that the patrol team also conduct snow control; check that the skis used are safe, and do some blow ups to prevent avalanches.

Legal risks

Many volunteer rescue workers are concerned about the possibility of legal action when someone dies during a rescue operation. Although the ski resorts generally have insurance to cover accidents, the ski patroller is still at risk of litigation. This is one of the hazards of the job. Even though the working conditions might be hard and the job physically demanding, you will reap the rewards of saving people's lives.