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LESSONS AND MEMORIES FROM 400 FEET

The topshack at the summit of Proctor Ski Area is packed. Suddenly, the radio’s distinct crackle interrupts the light atmosphere, sending a hush over the room. Moments after, the light banter about the topshack has been replaced by the sound of ski boots tramping across the floor. Captains communicate their plans while someone pulls a toboggan out of the Within minutes, the topshack is nearly empty and the only sounds are the stereo and the radio crackling out distant glimpses of the accident.

This is a common scenario at at any patrol, but Proctor is different. Most of these patrollers are high school students. One of five patrols in the New Hampshire region to offer a young

ultimately the hospital if needed. Times have certainly changed, but some

adult patrol program, Proctor Ski Area offers a great environment for

similarities remain.

students to learn the basics of patrolling. Since its founding, Proctor

Larry Ballin has been the patrol director for Proctor Academy Ski

Academy Ski Patrol has taught many students first aid, toboggan, and ski

Patrol since 2001, and a member of the National Ski Patrol since 1988. In

skills. Many returned year after year, others did one year and decided it

twelve years, he has seen many changes, both in the patrol and in

wasn’t for them. Nearly everyone took away some important life

students. Ballin recalls the patrol when he started. He said, “Ski

lessons.

patrollers were used for everything from the loading lifts to

George Emeny remembers Proctor Academy Ski

running the snack bar to doing all kinds of labor activities

Patrol’s existence when he came to Proctor around

the benefited the ski area...There was a dedicated group

1955 or 1956. “They just sort of skied,” he said,

of patrollers, but it was really more of a work group

adding that they didn’t even have a toboggan. That all

than a patrol group.” The program itself has changed a

changed when George began working with the

lot, and for the better according to Ballin. “I think we

program. He had patrolled through college and was

act more as a professional ski patrol as opposed to a

already a member of the National Ski Patrol. George

community service.” Ski patrol has many benefits, both

remembers working with the students on medical skills

to the ski area and the individual patroller. “Its always fun

through the Red Cross’s Advanced First Aid, and later the

to take a patroller...and either get them through the OEC

early Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program. Training,

(Outdoor Emergency Care) program or even just get them an

he recalled, was “very thorough and fun.” The first sleds the patrol

introduction to ski patrolling that will lead them to doing it in a different

purchased were just regular toboggans, but over the years, the sleds were

time frame,” thinks Ballin. “Its a real unique program. There are hardly any

upgraded until they finally had “good regular patrol sleds.” In these days,

others like it in the country, so it’s a great marketing thing for the school,

sprained ankles and knees were most common. Injured skiers were

especially when we have a successful patroller or two. It kind of fits with

evacuated from the hill, then transported to the Health Center, and

the motto of Proctor we’ve all grown up with, Live to Learn, Learn to Live. It’s great experiential learning. It’s very unique.” Larry Ballin understands

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that for some students, ski patrol isn’t just fun

remembers Johnson. “This trail was not open

and games. Patrolling presents many

very often due to no snowmaking and terrain

challenges. The biggest? “Managing time, and

issues (it desperately needs to meet dynamite),”

getting respect from other students...and also

Chris Sanborn ‘97 states. “[It was a f]un slow

giving them the confidence to go ahead and use

winding trail when it was open.  This is where we

the skills they know that they have.” If there is

usually would ski the ‘New England Powder’ for

anything that hasn’t changed about Proctor

one day till Gary packed it down and groomed it

Academy Ski Area, it is the building of

to make the snow last longer.” Other students

confidence by patrolling.

recall creating their own gladed trails through

Even though Proctor is almost constantly

the woods between trails. In addition to changes

changing, some things at Proctor Ski Area

to the trails themselves, there has been a huge

haven’t. There are still three trails, although Race

change in the amount of people using it.

(Burden) Trail and Middle (Blackwater) Trail have

According to Larry Ballin], “Our number of days

had some modifications. Says Heide Johnson,

on the hill has doubled. The amount of...outside

former patrol director, “The middle trail was the

business we do at the ski area has probably

most fun when it had enough snow; the top was

grown tenfold.” In addition, in the last decade, a

too narrow and often didn't hold snow well, but

handle tow was added on the last slope on

past that, there was an island of trees in the

Race Trail, just below Coach’s Knoll. Prior to

middle with a little cliff jump.  Lots of fun, but

that, skiers had to skate over the nordic trails to

only with lots of natural snow!” Snowmaking

the T-Bar. Although the trails and lifts have

was added to Middle Trail in the summer of

changed, their spirit remains unchanged.

1996, and the cliff was blasted out in in the

FIRST AID

Much of the patrol equipment hasn’t

summer of 2010 so the trail could be

changed either. Quick splints, cravats, and SAM

homogolyzed by FIS (International Ski

splints remain integral to patrol skills. “I

Federation). Doc’s Run, however, remains

remember my favorite splint that we used was a

unchanged. “Doc's trail was schizophrenic - flat,

quick splint. It was two pieces of plywood,

then steep, then flat, then steep, then flat,”

about three feet long and maybe a foot wide

Outdoor Emergency Care Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) is the first aid course offered by the National Ski Patrol. The course is about 80-100 hours, and nearly equivalent to and EMTBasic course. OEC requires one refresher a year. In addition, the New Hampshire region offers training days for young adult patrollers at ski areas around the state.

Proctor Ski Patrollers practice toboggan handling at a region training day

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that had soft foam on the inside and two

S&T

they took away. Larry Ballin, current patrol

sandwich. You would just put the splint on and

director believes, “It gives them an opportunity

cinch down the straps and it was good to go,”

to have a skill set under their belt when they

says Scott Kidder ‘00. He adds that, “...we got

leave Proctor that they can immediately turn into

the vacuum splints which worked well inside,

a marketable commodity.” Says Myles Cheston

but if they were cold, they were so stiff that you

‘12, “Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) is a useful

couldn't make them form around anything.”

skill to have out in the world. I can act as a first

Many patrollers deviated from the standard list

responder at accidents off the mountain and

of supplies in their aid belt. Some were simple

deal with injuries in my workplace.” “I learned a

such as, “A pen,” recalls Sam Brown ’11, “I did

LOT about improv bandages and just making it

a lot of paperwork,” or Ben Chaffee’s “Duct

work even if you don't have the right tools,”

tape...you can do anything with duct tape and a

reflects Kidder. “I currently work as an Athletic

little ingenuity.” Others kept more unique things.

Trainer and when people see me backboard

Scott Kidder ‘00 remembers, “...a trick that my

someone, you can tell I used to do it on

Mom taught me from when she used to patrol at

mountains.” Sam Brown ’11 made a list of

Ragged Mountain was to have a baby diaper

lessons he learned. “[G]ood communication

with you because they made good absorbent

skills with patients, how to operate under stress,

dressings and you also had a plastic barrier if

exceeding expectations, working in a timely

you didn't have time to get your gloves on yet,”

manner, [and] putting out a good image.” Most

He adds, “because we worked at night, [I

patrollers would agree that the lessons they

carried] a flare just in case the power ever went

learned are extremely pertinent in the working

out.” Most students recall having all the

world. skill to have out in the world. I can act as

equipment necessary to take care of any

a first responder at accidents off the mountain

possible injury, or at least improvise a splint for

and deal with injuries in my workplace.” “I

it.

learned a LOT about improv bandages and just Ultimately, the importance of Proctor

Academy Ski Patrol isn’t necessarily the

Ski and Toboggan Ski and toboggan are two integral skills in ski patrolling. Proctor Academy Ski Patrol uses the basic Cascade Toboggan model. This features a fiberglass sled with two metal handles at the front, and long metal skegs on the bottom. A chain under the sled functions as a brake, though another patroller can stabilize the sled with a tail rope as needed

patrolling experience, some say it is the lessons

straps that held the halves together like a

Ski Patrol 2009-2010

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making it work even if you don't have the right


Responsibility Left: Proctor Academy Ski Patrollers are in charge of handle tow operation. Below: Ali Mitchell ’11 receives her Outdoor Emergency Care certification (with a big smile!)

tools,” reflects Kidder. “I currently work as an Athletic Trainer and

Ski Patrol. After spending so much time at Proctor Ski Area, they are not

when people see me backboard someone, you can tell I used to do it on

walking away empty handed. These students will be well equipped to

mountains.” Sam Brown ‘10 made a list of lessons he learned.

handle whatever life throws at them. The skills and memories these

“[G]ood communication skills with patients, how to operate

students gain will last longer than their patrolling days. “It’s a

under stress, exceeding expectations, working in a timely

“It’s a lifelong skill.” ~Larry Ballin

manner, [and] putting out a good image.” Most patrollers would agree that the lessons they learned are extremely pertinent in the working world. Proctor Academy Ski Patrol has been around for over

lifelong skill.” claims Larry Ballin. As long as Proctor hits the slopes of Proctor Ski Area, Proctor Academy Ski Patrol will be in business changing the live of every one of their members.

By Moriah Keat

sixty years, and I doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon. In fact, in the past five years, four students have completed the Outdoor Emergency Care course and become members of the National

BY THE NUMBERS

OEC

TOBOGGANS

Number of OEC Technicians in the past 5 years

Number of toboggans in use

Age of the average member of NSP

Age of the average PASP patroller

5

5

50

16

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AGE


Lessons and Memories from 400 Feet