Six junior patrollers are the newest addition to Mt. Timothy’s ski patrol group.
The youth - aged 14 to 16 - are part of a new pilot project on the hill after they expressed an interest in learning more about ski patrol, as well as sweeping the runs at the end of the day to make sure there is nobody left on the hill.
“I thought, why not try it and see how it works? They get some training out on the hill and we get more patrollers. It’s a win-win for everyone,” said ski patrol member Ken MacKenzie.
The teens, who all attend Peter Skene Ogden school, were chosen as they were already known to the ski group. All but one of them are also members of the PSO climbing club and are all strong climbers. MacKenzie said climbing gives the youth integral skills to not only reach a rescue site but to bring the rescuers down safely as well.
“We know their skiing ability and we know that they have the right attitude and all that. So far, it’s been really positive,” he said.
Ken Daly, the patrol leader for the Volunteer Canadian ski patrol group, agreed “it’s going really well.”
The junior team members have all taken their Level 1 First Aid and assisted in lift evacuation training. They are also working on their toboggan training, which involves carrying it down the hill to an accident scene.
When on patrol they travel in groups of at least two. One carries a radio while the other carries the first aid pack. Their job in the event of an accident is to stabilize the victim until a senior patroller arrives on the scene - much the same as a person on the street would stabilize someone while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
“We don’t typically have life-threatening injuries on the hill,” said MacKenzie.
They are trained to respond but he said he primarily sees them as being an extra set of eyes looking for incidents, hazards and dangers to report to the regular patrol.
Apart from the toboggan training, which can be a bit intimidating when you have a heavy toboggan pushing you down the hill, none of them appear daunted by the job, MacKenzie said. “They’re quite excited about it all, they really seem to be enjoying it,” he said.
It is the same kind of attitude that goes into being a part of the ski patrol.
“You’re there to help and have fun but also assist where necessary.”
MacKenzie is not sure what the plan is going forward. Although they would like to make the program open to everybody, they are limited by numbers. Skill level and attitude must also be considered.
If there is a lot of interest, however, they might consider try-outs.
“It’s hard enough to get people to step up and give their time these days so when you get young people it’s even more important,” Daly said.
MacKenzie said Larry Henderson, the owner of Mt Timothy Recreational Resort, has been supportive of the program and is quite happy to see the kids up there.
“These are kids who are going to be potential, full-time patrollers when they’re a little bit older, and it’s kind of helping groom for the future,” he said. “Some of us patrollers are getting a little bit long in the tooth so there has to be someone coming up who will take over.”