Well, we are moving into September and the ski season is fast approaching.
I wish I could tell you that it will be an amazing winter with epic skiing and riding. Mother Nature will do what she wants to do just like always. Unfortunately, for the rest of it, this season will more than likely be filled with numerous changes and unexpected events and no doubt a lot of uncertainty. The honest truth of this is, we are still unsure what will transpire. Ski areas will open or not, with crowd limits or not. Lodges may or may not be open, again with social distancing and limit issues. Restaurants may be open, with restrictions. Outdoor seating will only go so far into the season. The ski area experience as we have known it for decades will, to say the least, be different. Only time will tell, and most likely it will be an area by area struggle and decision on how things run.
So, what does that mean for Patrol?
Social distancing, PPE, hand washing, disinfecting equipment, being diligent and safe. We can do our jobs safely and professionally as long as we are careful and follow protocols.
We will try to keep you updated on what is happening and where, but even that is a moving target. The information changes daily.
Example, At the beginning of July areas supplied neck buffs for employees to wear to protect themselves and the customers. Now we hear that those same buffs may actually make the spread of Covid worse by diffusing the larger particles into smaller ones that can hang in the air longer and go farther. .
What has been going on over the summer….
- Eastern Division has had a task force looking at the Covid issues since April. It’s called COOP-UP (Continuity Operations – Eastern Division, Under Pressure) and I’ve been involved since the start. The task force has published several protocol documents which have been emailed out and are available on the Eastern Division Website. They were produced by two groups (with overlaps), the Training Group and the Medical Group.
- The NH Patrol Directors Association has had several meetings (which I also attend) over the summer and now meet monthly to review the latest information and discuss common problems and discuss standardizing ideas on how to react to those problems.
- The NH Region Staff has held several meetings to discuss the programs for this season. Reviewing the latest information and adapting plans accordingly.
- The National Office and Board has been working to provide recommendations on everything they can to give Ski Areas and Patrols a starting point for all the discussions and decisions that will follow in the next several months.
- OEC 6 has been released and is now the standard of training for first aid. Refreshers have been structured for safety regardless of your location. The OEC 6 Instructor rollout has been moved online.
- Bike Patrols have been operating most of the summer and into the fall handling patients both on hill and in the aid room on a daily basis. How? By paying attention to PPE, social distancing, disinfecting equipment and counters, and generally being more careful to follow protocols setup by their medical advisors.
What’s coming this fall?
- The NSP Refresher this season is completely online, workbook and all. The practical skills have been moved off until next season.
- The OEC 6 Instructor rollout is an online module as well.
- Both of these require registration to an NSP approved course setup by you local patrols, or Region Staff.
Will Mountains still have face to face “refreshers”?
- The short answer is yes. Mountain’s are still required to do something for lift evacs and local operations. Whether it is the entire patrol or smaller groups of Patrolers will be determined on a mountain to mountain basis.
What will training look like this winter?
- Good question… While the refreshers are all online, hands on training is still viable depending on the circumstances at individual areas and depending on the current recommendations by the CDC / State / local EMS / and your local Covid situations.
I’ll leave you with this.
As I stated earlier, both the information and the circumstances change quickly. Many mountains owned by larger corporations will be told what to do based on decisions made thousands of miles away, and some may be making their own decisions. Anyway you look at it, don’t be surprised or discouraged if your local Patrol Director has no “set in stone” answers for your questions.
Welcome to “Corona 2020”
NREMT, NSP & PSPA Certified
New Hampshire Region Director