Certified Program – Far West Division, National Ski Patrol
Through a program of training and testing, provide a venue for outstanding Patrollers to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in all aspects of Patrolling to better serve Ski Industry Management and their guests. At the same time provide an on-going opportunity for Patrollers to seek out new knowledge and skills in Patrolling. This could be called “The Next Step after Senior”. Review the “Next Step after Senior” document below.
Supervisor: Name and Contact
Michael K. Nolen firstname.lastname@example.org
559-893-2346 (Home) 559-908-5015 (cellular)
The Certified Program enables patrollers to build upon experiences gained while patrolling and through other NSP programs.
The program consists of six core modules:
Area operations and risk management;
Lift evacuation and rope knowledge;
Skiing /snowboarding; and
**The above modules maybe expanded upon by divisions to meet additional needs.
This program requires independent training and advance research in order complete the modules and receive certification.
The certified candidate should possess extensive knowledge of patrol and area operations, as well as physical dexterity and skills in leadership, instruction, problem management, and decision-making. More importantly, the individual must have an aptitude for team building and experience in planning programs to facilitate the success of the program and area operations.
The information in this program may not be applicable to all situations that arise in the daily operations of a ski area or center. NSP education programs and membership requirements should never conflict with, or take priority over, area management’s standard operating procedures and requirements for daily patrolling activities.
Certified Patroller Program Goals
Provide performance standards and evaluation on a broad range of patrol skills and knowledge.
Increase patroller’s awareness of issues relevant to ski area operations.
Provide a readily identifiable resource of highly skilled, motivated, and knowledgeable patrollers to better serve NSP, ski area management, and the outdoor recreation community through instruction and/or leadership.
Promote interaction and exchange between paid and volunteer patrollers.
Build on, but not duplicate, the Outdoor Emergency Care program and or the Senior OEC program by providing a flexible, self-directed training program to develop member skills.
Suggestions from Michael Nolen on How to Prepare for the Certified Program
“The Next Step after Senior”
There are nine testing areas or disciplines within the APP:
Skiing, Telemarking and Snowboarding – Sliding in all disciplines, you can Certify in one or all areas if you wish.
Avalanche Science and Evaluation
Explosives (use in Avalanche Control)
All testing areas above other than “Skiing, Telemarking and Snowboarding” have a written test to pass as a pre-requisite. You must pass the written at 80% or greater before you can take the practical test. The written tests are from fifteen to twenty-five questions in length. The written tests look for the candidate to have a general and in some cases a specialized knowledge within each testing area. The aim of the written test is to weed out those that don’t come prepared to take the practical tests. The questions are: true/false; multiple choice and short answer. All the practical tests range from forty-five minutes to two hours in length. Oral demonstration exists in all testing areas with the exception of the “Skiing, Telemarking and Snowboarding” test. At this time Risk Management and Explosives (use in Avalanche Control) tests are entirely oral tests. All other practical tests require skill demonstration as well as oral presentation.
Here are some general tips to guide you through the certification process:
Go to www.propatrollers.org and become familiar with the tab “APP Clinic Schedule” for APP Mid-Winter Clinics and the APP Spring Clinic calendar of events. This will give you a time goal to get prepared.
Mid-Winter Clinics are three day clinics, usually mid-week. One of the three days is devoted entirely to training. The other two days to testing. There are usually two clinics in California (Lake Tahoe/Central Sierras and Southern California), one in the Pacific Northwest, one in the Southwest typically New Mexico, and often one in Idaho.
The Spring Clinic is a five day event, Wednesday through Sunday. The host ski area is at a location that is open late into the spring. This allows most patrollers throughout the west the opportunity to come to this clinic because their home ski areas are closed. Typical venues are: Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, and Mt Bachelor.
The Mid-Winter and Spring Clinic calendar for each season is posted on the APP website each year after the APP Board convenes in the fall. Look for the APP Clinic calendar for the winter the first part of December of each year.
Study the Criteria for each discipline. The Criteria discusses what it takes to become Associate Certified and Certified for each testing area. Explore the tab “APP Certification Program and Testing Criteria “on the APP website for information for all nine testing areas.
Research and study using the references listed on the last page of each Criteria for the nine disciplines. Don’t forget about the near infinite opportunities to learn about each testing areas through the internet.
Buy a Study Guide. This is a dynamic guide that is being expanded continually by Head and Assistant Judges for each testing area. The current cost is $25.00 and copies can be purchased through the APP President, Scott Hoffman. Look for his contact information on the APP website under the tab “Web Master”.
Join the APP for $40.00 per year. You can and should do this immediately. Do this through the website at the tab “Pay Dues or Donate at the Link Below (Dues $40.00)”. Payment of dues and donations (always gratefully accepted) is through Pay Pal. By paying annual dues you can get access to the following:
A “hard copy” of our quarterly Newsletter. The Newsletter is also available on-line through the website.
Skiing at host resorts for Mid-Winter Clinics (3 days) and the Spring Clinic (5 days) for $15.00 or less/day. You can join the APP as a sustaining member just to get this opportunity and take part in the training and networking.
Association and networking with Patrollers throughout the West: California; Nevada; Oregon; Washington; Idaho; Arizona; New Mexico and Utah. Look for the APP to expand even further.
Training is available in all testing areas. There is an annual Risk Management Forum at APP Spring Clinics.
A Keynote Speaker and a banquet typically on Saturday night of our Spring Clinics.
Access to demo skiing equipment and outdoor products brought to you by partners and sponsors of the APP.
Social Events at all Clinics, especially the Spring Clinic.
There are four ways to learn skills and knowledge needed to certify in each testing area at APP Clinics without testing;
Training Clinics put on by Head and Assistant Judges at Mid-Winter and Spring Clinics. Mid-Winter Clinics my not offer testing in all disciplines. Check the website to verify what is offered at these clinics. If you have a specific need or desire, ask and opportunities will be made available.
If there is an OPEN testing slot for a testing area. A “one on one” training clinic can be available for candidates testing in the future.
Audit a test. With the permission of the judge and the candidate you can audit a test. This is as long as you don’t interfere with the flow of the test and you don’t plan on testing in that discipline at the same clinic.
Be a partner or victim for a candidate ready to test. Ideally train with the candidate before testing. This works for the following testing areas: Medical, Toboggans (you can be a partner or a rider) and Rope Rescue.
The cost for testing at Mid-Winter and Spring Clinics is $15.00
Start your testing in areas that are already your strength. Most of us as Patrollers ski or ride everyday that we Patrol. We are commonly exposed to prevention opportunities with mountain opening responsibilities. When injuries occur First Aid and loss control are skills we need to have.
Consider a progression with testing that starts with: Skiing, Telemarking and Snowboarding; Risk Management; Hill Safety and Medical. Get a feel for testing and gain confidence from testing by pursing your strengths and the things you do most first.
The tests of Avalanche Science and Evaluation, Avalanche Rescue and Explosives (used in Avalanche Control) are not common to all Patrollers or needed at all our ski areas in the west. These tests are very complex and require a lot of time and effort to gain the needed knowledge and skills. The beauty of taking these tests at a later time in your quest for certification is that there is a lot of overlap in each of these disciplines.
Find a “Mentor”. Seek out someone at your resort that has gone through the Certification Program of the APP. In addition you will need time to study and develop skills on your own. Each testing area is all encompassing. We should expect this at a Certified level and not enter a test without due consideration.
Below are some thoughts for training, preparation and skill development to achieve certification in each of the nine testing areas:
Skiing, Telemarking and Snowboarding – Sliding in all disciplines, you can Certify in one or all areas if you wish. This test is about a two hour long evaluation.
This is an “on-the-mountain” test.
Seek out your ski area’s Ski or Snowsports School. The Professional Ski Instructors of American (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) are available to all of us to improve our skills. Get over, if you haven’t already, the rivalry between Patrol and Ski School. Ski Schools can teach us some valuable skills.
References: The National Ski Patrol website (www.nsp.org) under “Member Services” then “Shop the NSP Catalog” has an education section. Currently there is software “V1 Home 2.0 Coaching System” for sale. You can “Google” the PSIA and/or AASI for their publications.
This is an oral test generally given indoors or outside at a table in the base area of a ski resort. It is currently about an hour and fifteen minute test.
Seek out your ski area’s Risk Manager. You will need to become familiar with prevention programs for employees and guest alike. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws and policies related to ski area management are very important to understand.
References: Look on the internet for information on OSHA; National Ski Areas Association (NSAA); Skier Safety; and Ski Industry Inherent Risk Laws for your State.
This is an “on-the-mountain” test. It is currently about an hour long test.
Expect to be answering questions while riding chair lifts and observing mountain terrain and facilities.
Seek out a Lift Maintenance Technician at your ski area. You will need a fairly comprehensive understanding of lifts (signage, heights, operation, electric motors, auxiliary power units, braking systems, fail safes, and tower, carrier, and haul rope features). Common Carrier knowledge is where most seem to stumble.
Your ski area’s Marking Policy, Lift Evacuation, Search and Rescue Plans, and Terrain Park Operations are important to know.
On the APP website go to the tab “APP Certification Program and Testing Criteria “. Look for the “APP Hill Safety Study Outline” in the “Hill Safety” Criteria section. This outline was prepared especially for those testing in this area.
References: National Ski Patrol: The Lift Evacuation Manual; American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) latest manual for lift operations (B77.1). Ski area policies and procedures as stated in (b.)
This is a scenario based test often performed at a ski area’s base area facilities. The test will take about forty-five minutes including your evaluation by the judges.
The Criteria on the APP website under “APP Certification Program and Testing Criteria“and “Medical” is a great study guide. Three different score sheets are available in this area of the website for Emergency Medical Technician National Registry testing. There are score sheets for Cardiac, Medical, and Trauma Assessments. Use these to get prepared. You will be evaluated from them.
Find a partner /victim to work with and one that you can take to a clinic for testing in this area.
Be able to perform a full Patient Assessment; deal with STAT situations that are life and limb threatening; assess Risk Management issues; briefly train rookie Patrollers to help you; and lead the scene like an Incident Commander ALL while talking about what you doing throughout. It takes lots of practice to “talk and chew gum” in this area.
References: National Ski Patrol Outdoor Emergency Care 5th Edition Manual, Emergency Medical Technician Manuals and Protocols.
This is an “on-the-mountain” test. The test will take approximately and hour and a half to two hours to complete while evaluating you and your partner.
Expect to be answering questions while riding chair lifts and observing mountain terrain.
Become an Outdoor Emergency Toboggan (OET) Instructor after becoming a Senior Patroller with your Patrol.
Find a partner to practice and test with. You need to become one as a handler and a tail rope person and vice versa. This is a test like Skiing, Telemarking and Snowboarding” that you can be evaluated with someone that you have trained with and hopefully enjoy. This opportunity can allow for a huge reduction in anxiety while testing. Most difficulties that candidates have with the Toboggan test are that they don’t come with a partner that they have practiced with.
References: National Ski Patrol Outdoor Emergency Transportation Manual
This is an “on-the-mountain” test. This test will take approximately an hour and a half. Have your skills honed enough to complete the required three major parts (listed below) safely and efficiently in forty-five minutes.
Expect to be answering questions while riding or sitting on a lift and observing mountain terrain.
There are three major parts of the test:
Public Lift Evacuation
Low Angle Rescue
You must be able to perform these skills while talking and tying knots.
Work through your Patrol Director for Self Evacuation.
Train with a partner for Public Lift Evacuation and Low Angle Rescue.
References: Mountaineering Freedom of the Hills, National Ski Patrol: The Lift Evacuation Manual.
Avalanche Science and Evaluation
This is an “on-the-mountain” test. This test will take about one and a half hours.
Expect to be answering questions while riding chair lifts and observing mountain terrain.
If you work at a ski area without an Avalanche Control Program (Class “C” area) you should look for an opportunity to make arrangements to go to a mountain that has one.
There are many areas that are Patroller friendly for this. By law you cannot handle explosives as a Volunteer but there are many ways for you to be exposed to the process. The goal would be to recognize avalanche terrain and understand the mitigation processes.
Look into a Level II Avalanche Course.
Be prepared to dig a Hasty Pit or at least evaluate one.
References: The Avalanche Handbook, Avalanche Safety for Skiers, Climbers, and Snowboarders, Snow Sense, The ABC’s of Avalanche Safety, your local ski area’s Avalanche Control Plans and Atlases.
This is an “on-the-mountain” test. This test will take at least forty-five minutes.
There are two parts to the test:
An oral part with evaluation of the candidate’s knowledge of avalanche rescue and transceivers.
A practical, skills evaluation to find two buried transceivers in five minutes. This evaluation is more than just the timed finds of two buried transceivers. You will be judged on safety and an efficient, systematical approach to finding the buried units.
Be advised if you pass the oral and not the practical you will have to take them both again the next time around to Certify in this discipline.
Buy a transceiver and use it frequently. This is a serious test. Your buddy would expect that you could rescue him or her and vice versa. This test is certainly not just about finding two transceivers in five minutes. It is about the potential of rescuing or being rescued anytime you are in avalanche terrain. Knowledge of Avalanche Science and Evaluation is mandatory for mitigating your time in avalanche terrain to an acceptable risk. Go on-line and see the number of avalanche related deaths in-bounds and out-bounds at ski areas involving employees and guests alike. Marketing pushes Patrol staffs to make available more and more avalanche terrain each year. Enough of my “soap box”, I am sure that you get the point.
READ the Instructions Manual for your transceiver. Know it from cover to cover or screen to screen if you have a digital copy. The Instructions Manual is usually a great training guide as well.
Use the internet. A lot of manufacturers have interactive tutorials on-line.
Set up a course frequently and work through it. Encourage others on your Patrol to do the same. Help them as they help you. Go to another ski area’s “Beacon Basin”.
The Incident Command System (ICS) has come to Avalanche Rescue. See the National Ski Patrol’s “Avalanche Rescue Fundamentals” book at www.nsp.org. This book is new for 2010 and incorporates ICS for avalanche rescue. Mike Laney, National Avalanche Advisor for the NSP, did a great job on this book. Once again the National Ski Patrol is a leader in avalanche rescue.
References: The same as Avalanche Science and Evaluation plus your local ski area’s Avalanche Rescue Plan. The Instruction/Owner’s Manual for your transceiver and other models. Again use the internet. You will need to have some general knowledge of other transceivers and search techniques.
Explosives (used in Avalanche Control)
This is an oral test generally given indoors or outside at a table in the base area of a ski resort. Inert props are often used. The test is geared to evaluate your knowledge and skill in forty-five minutes but expect it to take an hour or more. If it takes more than an hour either the judge is talking too much or the candidate does not have sufficient knowledge of the subject. Usually the later is the case.
As with Avalanche Science and Evaluation if your ski area does not have an Explosives Program for Avalanche Control seek out a ski area that does have one.
Know the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF&E) laws for “Employee Possessor” and “Responsible Party “before you get involved observing an Explosives Avalanche Control Program and subsequently testing in this area.
Look into Explosive Manufacturer’s Training. You can find out more about this type of training through manufacturer’s websites.
References: BATF&E Explosives Law and Regulations (76 pages), International Society of Explosives Engineers (ISSEE) Blaster’s Handbook. Use the internet to gain information from BATF&E and OSHA (Specifically the General Industry Safety Orders for Snow Avalanche Blasting – GISO, see also the APP website for “California General Industry Safety Orders-Snow Avalanche Blasting 10-10-2007”). Also use the internet to explore the American Avalanche Association (AAA), and Explosives Manufacturers. The Study Guide for the APP has a great section on Explosives completed by a past Head Judge for Explosives, Scott Williams while at Steven’s Pass ski area in Washington.
Before you test in any category you will need to get your Paid Patrol Director’s sign off. He or she will confirm that you are prepared and capable of testing in a particular area.
You will need to pass the written test before taking the practical test. You cannot take the same written test twice at the same clinic because you did not pass it the first time. You can offer a constructive challenge to a question you may have missed, though.
You will be tested on your knowledge of your local ski area policies, procedures, and protocol. No negative assessment will be made as long as you know your local programs and they don’t put you in an unsafe situation.
Have a general knowledge in each discipline beyond that of your local ski areas programs. Especially those areas that are considered ski industry standards. The National Ski Areas Association makes some recommendations for industry standards. Committees are established involving ski area personnel throughout the nation to deal with industry issues. See www.nsaa.org.
Know federal, state, and county laws that effect ski area management.
Come prepared. There is no substitute for practice through repetition. One of the best examples is: Don’t expect to certify after practicing only a few times finding two buried transceivers in five minutes.
Come into testing with a professional approach by having a partner/victim for the testing areas that require this:
Medical -requires a victim. Practice with this person.
Toboggans - requires a rider and a tailrope person. Practice a lot with these people. Both the rider and your toboggan partner along with you can make or break your evaluation.
Rope Rescue -requires a person to lift evacuate and low angle rescue. Again practice with this person.
Exceptions can be made if you don’t have some or all of these people. My suggestion is that you bring them. This sets a professional appearance to the judges. It will definitely help you while testing to be familiar with someone like your partner you have practiced with. This can make a major difference in the often unfamiliar and anxious environment of testing.
Come with equipment that you use in training for your testing. You would not come to the Skiing, Telemarking and Snowboarding test without your skis or snowboard. Below are items to bring (buy or borrow them).
Skiing or Riding – your own equipment with functional bindings. For skiing make sure your bindings are appropriately set to your skier type, age and weight. Equipment failures or excuses are not tolerated.
Toboggans- many bring their own toboggans. Most ski areas have Cascade Toboggan, Model 100 sleds. You may not find your favorite handle height or a sled with a 30”or 50” fin that you are used to, however.
Medical – bring your own backboard with straps and wedges; oxygen or airway bag, traction splint, and fanny pack, vest, or backpack (may sure that you have BSI gloves). There is nothing more disturbing and anxious to me in scenario testing to not have or can’t find or direct others to what you need in regarding first aid equipment.
Rope Rescue – have your areas Lift Evacuation and Low Angle Rescue Bag (this could be one and the same).
Avalanche Science and Evaluation – bring a shovel and snow pit kit.
Avalanche Rescue – shovel, probe, and transceiver (be real familiar with your transceiver).
Look your judge(s) in the eyes with confidence as you answer and demonstrate your knowledge. With skill demonstrations be present and very focused on the discipline that you are performing. Your safety, partner/victims safety, and that of other participants and judges is of paramount importance. Please do not under estimate this. Don’t test yet if you are not able to meet at least the Associate Certified level with your skills demonstration. I know that you wouldn’t think of testing if getting hurt or injuring others was the outcome. Colliding or running into judges on a Skiing, Telemarking and Snowboarding test is not a good thing.
If you don’t know an answer to a question, don’t guess or pretend. You could state” I’m not sure but I think it may relate to ……”
Head and Assistant Judges are very good about creating scenarios to prevent candidates who have great study habits from certifying without being able put all their learned knowledge together to work out a problem. In other words cramming and memorizing only will not get you where you will need to for certification.
Act like you are instructing when you demonstrate you knowledge and skills. Stated another way take yourself out the testing mode (almost everyone is nervous and anxious) and become the instructor. This I believe will put you into the right relaxed and confident mindset.
The goal of APP Certification is:
With certification in any discipline you should be able to start to set up a program at a brand new ski resort.
As a Certified Patroller through the APP be available, at least one day per year, to judge others at APP Clinics. This is not only good for our organization it keeps your knowledge and skills up at a Certified level.
As a Certified Patroller you give back to our industry and the APP by training and mentoring others.
As a Certified Patroller you continue to help grow our industry and the APP. DON’T use testing as an End, BUT a Start. Continue to grow in knowledge and skill and help others do the same. This is in my opinion is “The Next Step After Senior”.
I really hope this helps! If it doesn’t give me a call.
Please consider growing as a Patroller, seek out Certification, Join the APP and get started. Feel free to get in touch we me through the below contact information.
Michael K. Nolen (H) 559-893-2346 E-mail (H): email@example.com Board Member/Criteria Coordinator - Association of Professional Patrollers Certified Advisor - Mother Lode Region, National Ski Patrol Certified Supervisor – Far West Division, National Ski Patrol