Original Research|Articles in Press

A Survey of Ski Patrols in the United States Comparing Medical Direction, Patroller Training, and Patient Care


      Ski patrols are tasked with substantial challenges: distance from definitive care, complex extrications, and winter environments. Rules for US ski patrols stipulate that ≥1 persons be trained in basic first aid, but no further regulations regarding the specifics of provided medical care exist. This project investigated patroller training, patient care, and medical direction of US ski patrols through a survey of ski patrol directors and medical directors.


      Participants were contacted via email, phone, and personal contacts. After consultation with known ski patrol directors and medical directors for question guidance, 2 separate institutional review board-approved surveys were designed: 1 for ski patrol directors and 1 for ski patrol medical directors, containing 28 and 15 qualitative questions, respectively. The surveys were distributed with a link to the encrypted Qualtrics survey platform. After 2 reminders and 4 mo, results were downloaded from Qualtrics into an Excel spreadsheet.


      Twenty-two responses from patrol directors and 15 from medical directors were received. The response rate is unknown. Outdoor emergency care certification was the minimum medical training required by 77% of the study participants. Twenty-seven percent of surveyed patrols belonged to an emergency medical service agency. Fifty percent of 11 surveyed ski patrols had a medical director, 6 of whom were board certified in emergency medicine. All surveyed medical directors stated that they assisted with patroller education, and 93% assisted with protocol development.


      The surveys demonstrated variability in patroller training, protocols, and medical directorship. The authors questioned whether ski patrols would benefit from increased standardization of care and training, quality improvement programs, and medical directorship.


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