Diary of a Ski Patrolman: Week 14
First, you must be able to take your task as a guardian of the injured seriously, and understand that your patients rely on you to get them to safety. It’s a job that is just about as serious as it gets. People’s lives are in your hands, and in your toboggan. It’s ironic, then, how many times I’ve been asked on the lift, “So are you thinking about getting a serious job next?”
But it’s not all about seriousness — in fact that part must ordinarily remain hidden. You must be able to approach each situation in a relaxed manner. If you arrive on scene and go about your assessment in a panic, your patient is going to feel scared. Patrolling requires a high degree of empathy and yet you cannot ever be overwhelmed by that empathy. You can tell which patrollers have a perfect, certain calm about them during their radio calls and it is immediately comforting to their patients. That calm, I must say, is pretty awesome.
You also need to accept cold and wetness. Today, for example, the morning was beautiful. Three inches or so of powder overnight meant perfect turns in the woods, and elsewhere. After noon, however, it turned to a lovely “wintry mix.” My jacket and pants quickly become heavy with a soaking coldness, which slowly but inevitably seeped beneath my Gore-Tex exterior. The other day someone came into the hut, saw a few of us relaxing after trail checks, and said, “So, this is a job, huh?”
Yes, it is. Especially when you’re getting whipped in the face by falling ice, and have no choice but to ski every trail, as normal, and if needed take care of an injured person as gingerly as possible. Because it is a job. An awesome job, requiring resilience, endurance, and a willingness to be tired most of the time. A good tired, though, which is important.
So you want to be a patroller? Good. Just remember to be awesome, and you’ll do just fine. And if that fails, just bring food to the hut. Lots of food — particularly of the sugary or fried variety. Then you’re in — I’ll use my power [which is considerably low] to make sure of that…