Frequently Asked Questions
If this is your first year volunteering you will receive an unrestricted season pass once you complete the Lift Evac Training, CSP On-Snow Training and BW On-Hill Orientation. Until that training is complete, you will receive a daily pass at the beginning of your patrol shift and be entitled to a nontransferable day pass for you to use for a day of "free" skiing.
The Lift Evac training day is mid-Oct in the morning and we use the afternoon to do first-aid scenarios in the great outdoors.
CSP On-Snow training is the second and third weekend after the hill opens. The training consists of skiing/riding evaluation, hill orientation, clinic/hut orientation, toboggan handling and on-snow first-aid scenarios.
The BW On-Hill orientation consists of gaining knowledge and skill on the daily operation of the ski hill. It's known as "Log Book" training because there is a training log with a number of skills you must be proficient at and get signed off on. There are about 24 items. They include skills such as how to fill out a SAAR (Ski Area Accident Report), how to use the patrol radio, how to identify and mark on-snow hazards, how to call in your lift's onhill inventory, how to pack and check a spinal pack and a trauma pack, how to identify and repack a regular and trauma toboggan rolls (aka burritos), how to clean and fix rope lines and how to be towed by a snowmobile. Your patrol buddy will teach you the skills throughout your first patrol shifts.
On your second year patrolling, you will receive your unrestricted season pass at the beginning of the season and you will be eligible for an unrestricted season pass for your significant other. On your third year patrolling, you will receive a pass for yourself, your significant other and all your children under 18.
If you have already purchased a season pass, you will be refunded the purchase price once you've been signed off on the logbook skills. Most new recruits have the log book completed in 3-5 shifts.
Absolutely. If you have current training such as OFA3, St John's Ambulance, Wilderness First Aid or other such training, attend the first day of training and speak to our first aid education leads to discuss options. Options include simply challenging the exams, attending some of the sessions or attending all of the sessions.
No. Jackets and vests are issued to you at the beginning of the on-snow training and return by you after your last patrol shift. Patrol jackets are high quality Arc'teryx shells. They are wind and water resistant with a hood that fits comfortably over your helmet.
You will need
- skis / snow board and boots
- helmet preferably black with no "scary" images such as skulls, eviscerated eye balls, monsters or axes. They scare kids when they are hurt.
- black ski pants. They must be black - not really dark navy blue or dark charcoal
Your current certification needs to be CPR level HCP and be valid until the end of the ski season. Bring proof of your certification and show it to the education lead before the CPR/AED classes and you can skip those classes unless of course you would like to refresh your skills.
Watch these (slightly dated) videos. You should be about Level 3 Advanced. The goal is to be able to get to an incident scene quickly and safely. Note that these videos refer to "red" runs. This is a European standard. They are equivalent to North American 'black" runs.
Most CSP volunteers patrol on either Saturday or Sunday. There are more members of the public on hill those days hence the need for more patrollers. We also patrol Monday thru Friday so you're welcome to request those days as your regular shift or come up for an extra patrol shift on those days.
You will be assigned into a "pod". Pods patrol every other week on the same day of the week, for example every other Saturday. If you cannot make a shift, you can swap shifts with someone. You post the shift you want to have covered on our online system and others who need a trade will contact you to discuss the exchange dates. Once agreed upon, the requestor emails both pod leaders spelling out the swap.
Absolutely. You are always welcome to take extra shifts. You just need to let the CSP pod leader know that you're coming for an extra shift at least 24 hours before the shift so they know to expect you.
If night skiing is running at Big White, you will be assigned two night shifts per season. The night shifts are Friday nights and Saturday nights 5pm to 830pm. You can make your preference known if you would like to patrol the night before your regular shift or if you want to night patrol immediately after your day shift. You can also shift swap your night shifts but you need to trade with another night shift.
You do not take the full course. There is a returner's recertification where you review and demonstrate critical skills (splinting, bandaging, spinal stabilization, and PAA (priority action approach). The recertification is four 4 hour sessions. Everyone writes the yearly written first aid exam (100 multiple choice) and everyone does a yearly diagnostic exam. You are always welcome to join any training class if you want a refresher.
A diagnostic exam is where you are given a scenario and you have to diagnose and treat the patient as though in real life. You have 20 minutes which typically is more that enough time. Each diagnostic has numerous "checkboxes" some marked as critical. Critical items are things like wearing gloves , checking gloves for blood after each palpation, monitoring your patient and recognizing and acting on their deteriorating condition, etc. Throughout the course, we will be doing LOTS of scenarios so the diagnostic exam won't be anything new.
You do not do the toboggan training every year. You need to get your toboggan handling skills re-certified every 3 years. We do arrange additional toboggan training days where you can get pointers from the on-snow instructors and perfect your toboggan handling skills in more challenging terrain.
AST (Avalanche Safety Training), EPP (Extended Protocols), First Aid Instructor training and CISM Facilitator (Critical Incident Stress Management) are some examples. The BW Avy team buries multiple beacons up by the Alpine Hut (top of TBar) and encourages all patrollers to hone their locator skills. The CSP Ski Improvement Clinic is held every year at Kicking Horse. There are three 5 day events. Each event includes four 6 hour ski improvement days with CSIA level 3 or 4 instructor. The fifth day is a free ski day. The event is open to all CSP patrollers from across Canada and is also open to family and friends! All levels of skiers and riders are welcome. It's a fun, very popular and sometimes a little scary The Saskatchewan crowd are surprisingly good skiers and it's fun to watch the Ontario gang trying to carve in powder.
Attending the open house is not mandatory but it is recommended. You will get to meet some of your instructors, some experienced patrollers and your fellow recruits.
Try to arrive at the patrol hut before 730am. You sign in and choose your favorite radio. You need to have boots-in and ready to go by 745am. At 745am there is a morning briefing where you are assigned a "card". There's a list of opening duties which need to be performed. These typically include bringing up gear from the hut to the top of your assigned lift (ie Powder), checking the equipment at the top of your lift. You will also be told about/assigned to special events that are running that day (ie boarder cross race). After the briefing, you and your assigned patrol buddy(s) can divide up your card's opening duties and run checks. All runs in your assigned area are skied and checked at the start of the shift. Awesome opportunity for some first tracks. Openings typically take about 1 hour if there are two of you on a card - longer if you are handing a card by yourself. You are given a 1 hour timeslot for lunch and a 1 hour timeslot for "alpine coverage".
During the entire day, responding to 10-40s (aka incidents) is your top priority. You will have numerous chances to respond typically being involved 2 to 3 times on your shift.
At 1445, all patrollers are required to make their way to the Alpine Hut (top of Tbar) where the patrol leaders will give you a sweep assignment. You may be held in reserve so there's someone to respond to any late day incidents. You may be asked to be "last chair" on a particular lift. Last chair is last person riding up the lift ensuring no-one gets stranded. Once last chair unloads the lift, patrollers are assigned to each of its runs and the patroller skis the run ensuring there's no one left behind.
All patrollers sweep down to the patrol hut for the end-of-day debrief which typically wraps up by 1645.