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Ski Patrol: Right People for the Right Job

Colorado’s skiers and snowboarders were recently presented with a misleading article that stated:

“When someone dies or is seriously injured on a Colorado ski slope, it is ski patrollers not trained police officers, sheriff’s deputies or forest rangers who document and determine what happened.”

That’s true, and it’s exactly the way you, as a skier, should want it. Here’s why:

Allow me to extrapolate:

Ski patrollers are the best option for incident reporting when it comes to skiing and snowboarding accidents. First and foremost, Ski Patrol is first on the scene to administer medical attention, and then to record the facts surrounding the incident. Most ski areas are reasonably remote, are located in challenging climates with ever-changing weather conditions, and require a breadth of skills and experience to navigate. Ski Patrollers deal with all of that every day. It’s what they’re trained to do, and they take it very seriously.

The aforementioned series of articles seems to suggest that incidents would be better-reported if another entity were called in to investigate. Such a practice would almost certainly result in inferior information gathering; long before a third party could arrive on-scene, witnesses would have skied away. Evidence would have melted, been skied over, or blown off in the wind. Weather conditions that may have been a factor in the incident may have changed. Ski Patrol is able to gather all this information immediately. A third-party investigator? They would certainly take longer to respond than Ski Patrol, and could take hours longer to arrive on-scene. When you’re reporting incidents in a mountain environment, the evidence and information can be compromised with every passing minute.

Colorado Ski Patrol in its element

Colorado Ski Patrol in its element

If I were interested in getting the best possible information and evidence following an incident, I would want it gathered as quickly as possibly by professionals who are trained and experienced in the activity and environment surrounding the incident. I certainly wouldn’t want to wait hours for someone who doesn’t necessarily know anything about skiing or mountains try to draw conclusions based on compromised evidence and incomplete information. To do that would just be crummy reporting.

-Mountain Correspondent