Happy Summer fellow Ski Patrollers. As the new chair of the Eastern Division Certified Program, I am humbled by the outpouring of support our members offer the Eastern Division. I participated in my first ever Eastern Division Spring Officers Meeting. My job was to report to the ED leadership team our accomplishments.

As I prepped for the meeting, I started reviewing what our accomplishments were for the year. Then it struck me that maybe it was time to refresh our fellow patrollers on what the Certified Program is all about. Below is an excerpt from a letter from the National Director of the NSP in 1964 and the directive which created the Certified Program as we know it today.

In 1964, National Director Chuck Schobinger forwarded a committee report from the Southern Rocky Mountain Division to George Wesson, Jr. to work out the details for a ‘Certified’ program. The report read: “It is the desire of the paid patrolmen of the NSPS to continually strive for higher standards for all ski patrolmen. Hence, this Certified ski patrolmen program is instituted to give recognition to those who have devoted the extra time and effort to pursue a course of self-development beyond the minimum requirements of the senior ski patrolmen. This program is necessary for the NSPS to keep pace with the technological developments in the sport of skiing and to encourage ski patrolmen to better fulfill the ever-increasing demands and expectations of ski area management and the skiing public.”

The Eastern Division put together a committee of inspiring New England patrollers, which included George Wesson Jr., Rudy Carlson, Wayne Doss, Dexter Galusha, and Casey Rowley to work out the details and proficiency requirements for a pilot program. It would demand the highest level of proficiency from patrollers through training and testing and would promote a level of patrolling in which there would be no compromise with excellence in skiing, first aid, patrol management, administration, and leadership.

First Certified Test

Two years later, during the 1967-68 season, the pilot program was launched. Thirty-four candidate applications were received. Only eight were accepted. Seven candidates showed up at Wildcat Mountain in New Hampshire for the first ‘Certified’ Ski and Toboggan Exam. PSPA was asked for their help in administering the exam to help give credibility to the program for the professionals. The courses were long and challenging using the most difficult terrain Wildcat had to offer. All seven candidates participating were successful and were invited to the first ‘Certified’ First Aid Exam to be held at Killington in April 1968.

The first aid problems were challenging and realistic, many taken from actual accident reports of some of the most unusual or difficult accident scenarios New England Ski Areas had seen. In some scenarios the actual patients were asked to ‘relive’ their accidents by replaying the roles of patients during the exam. In addition to first aid skills, the candidates would be expected to demonstrate a thorough understanding of patrol/management relationship and ski area operation knowledge.

Interviews were conducted for each candidate as if they were applying for a position of patrol leader at their mountain. In the early years of the program, the interviews were conducted by the actual owners and managers of the ski area. Questions concerning snowmaking and lifts, trail markings and grooming, staffing requirements and payroll, equipment needs and costs, mass casualty plans and risk management, legal and liability concerns, federal, state, and local laws and protocol would all be fair game. All seven candidates again passed this portion of the exam becoming the first NSPS ‘Certified’ Patrollers.

Today’s exam now consists of 10 modules (some modules have multiple components). The modules include Outdoor Emergency Care; Outdoor Emergency Transportation; Avalanche; Outdoor Risk Management; Lift Evacuation; and Low Angle Rescue. The exam takes three days to administer and is in March of each year. A successful candidate has three years to successfully pass all 10 modules. If not successful, you must start again.

To learn more about our program, consider participating in one of our two summer/fall events, a “Summer Certified Boot Camp” scheduled for August 16-18 at Holiday Mountain Ski Area in Monticello, NY or an “Enhanced Patroller School” at Swain Resort the weekend of September 13-15th.

Go to www.patrollerschool.org for registration details and information about these summer programs. See www.Nspeast.org/certified for details on the Certified Program. A special thanks to Peter Neefus for the history!