The Dartmouth Ski Patrol was formed
more than 60 years ago by students at Dartmouth College
who recognized the need for people trained in first aid to serve the
growing number of participants in winter sports in the area of the College.
During its history, members of the patrol served at
various nordic and alpine ski facilities in the NH/VT area. Today, the patrol
primarily serves the college's own ski area, the Dartmouth Skiway, located in Lyme, NH, 20 minutes by car from the campus.
The goals of the patrol are summarized as Safety, Rescue, and Education.
The patrol works to promote safe recreation practices in the mountain environment. The patrol works with ski area staff to mark obstacles, maintain trails, and to provide service to the Skiway's customers, to promote a safe and enjoyable experience.
The patrol is responsible for the rescue and emergency care of customers, employees, and visitors to the Skiway during operating hours.
The patrol serves as a key component of its members' Dartmouth education, providing real-world experience in medicine, leadership, business, and more.
Most patrol members are undergraduate students, and are unpaid volunteers. A number of area residents and alumni also volunteer. A handful of members work full and part-time as paid patrollers each year.
All members currently pay for their own personal equipment, National dues, and some training costs. Patrol administration and training are supported in part by the Pete Brundage '45 Memorial Outdoor Fund as well as through the Dartmouth Outing Club. Basic operational costs are covered by the Dartmouth Skiway.
All patrollers are members of the
National Ski Patrol, and are certified
as Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) Technicians. OEC is based on the
standard EMT-Basic Curriculum.
Skilled alpine, snowboard, and telemark skiers all are able to
perform the duties of a patroller, and all types of equipment
are represented on the Dartmouth patrol.
Dartmouth Patrollers will undergo an average of 200 hours of training before they are qualified for first-response to emergency calls.
Each Fall, roughly 30 first-year students will be selected through a formal
interview and testing process for participation in the Patrol's
The apprentice program includes CPR certification
and a full ski season of hands-on training, including toboggan handling.
Apprentices participate in patrol training as mock-patients, and receive
on-the-job training under the direct supervision of experienced patrollers.
A full OEC course of approximately 80 hours duration is conducted each Spring term. To maintain the quality of instruction and ensure ample hands-on practice during the course, the OEC program is limited to 15 students, and is by invitation only. Only those first-year students who have successfully completed the apprentice program are eligible for invitation. The patrol officers endeavor to select a group of candidates who have have demonstrated a high level of motivation, and who are likely to succeed as ski patrollers, both as individuals and as members of the team.
OEC technicians are trained to assess an ill or injured person, to manage life-threatening conditions, and to provide basic emergency care.
OEC technicians are specifically trained to provide emergency care while working in an outdoor environment.
Among other things, OEC technicians are trained:
- to assess a patient's condition and obtain a detailed medical 'history'
- to use devices to maintain an open airway
- to provide oxygen therapy and/or artificial ventilation
- to control bleeding, recognize, and treat for shock
- to perform CPR and administer Automated External Defbrillation
- to immobilize suspected spinal injuries using backboards or other devices
- to splint or immobilize suspected fractures or dislocations
- to provide traction splinting for apparent femur fractures
- to recognize medical illnesses and begin appropriate care
- to determine when ambulance or helicopter transport is appropriate
When they return for their second season, OEC graduates are classified as Patrol Candidates, and will participate in 4 full days of intensive on-the-hill training: one day each dedicated to OEC, toboggan handling, and rescue, and a fourth day of combined scenario training with the entire patrol.
Candidate Vest Test
Candidates completing this process, and approved by their supervisor, will be eligible for the "vest test". The vest test is designed to demonstrate the candidate's ability to first-respond to emergency calls, to handle common emergencies such as knee and wrist injuries alone, to react appopriately to critical situations, to handle a toboggan, and to perform basic patrol tasks.
Annual Training and Recertification
All patrollers will attend a weekend-long refresher course annually in the fall or early winter to maintain their OEC certification. At Dartmouth, all patrollers are also trained to perform basic rope rescue for chairlift evacuation; evacuation drills are held several times each year.
During the regular ski season, individual and team training takes place on a nearly continuous basis. Weekly team training topics are assigned by the training officer, and will occupy the crew for one to two hours of each shift. Individual practice time and extra training is provided for candidates preparing for the vest test, and patrollers preparing for advanced qualifications. Additionally, several day-long special training events are held throughout the season, and each patroller is required to attend one each season.
Dartmouth patrollers also participate frequently in nationally recognized
training events in avalanche rescue, out-of-area search and rescue, technical
rope rescue, advanced training in emergency care, ski and toboggan
skills, and risk management.
This will ensure that Dartmouth patrollers are well prepared not
only to serve the Dartmouth Skiway, but as they graduate and leave the area,
they will be able to serve their community as a rescuer and leader,
wherever they may be.