Critical Incident Stress Resources
We have a new program to better promote and communicate our safety message at each ski area. Safety Captains:
coordinate and produce annual Safety Day Events;
identify and safety issues related to patrol activities and report them to the Chain of Command;
are the liaison to the CT Region Safety Advisor regarding safety events and concerns;
promote safety within the patrol.
Tips for Hosting a Successful Safety Event
Safety is at the core of what we do as Ski Patrollers. Hosting safety events at your snow sports area can greatly promote awareness of safety to both guests and staff.
While the month of January is typically designated as “Safety Month”, safety events can and should occur during all months of the snow sports season.
The question is, how do we as Patrollers go about doing this?
Follow these suggested steps to plan and execute safety initiatives this season.
Contact your Region’s Safety Team Advisor. They will help you plan your safety initiatives, direct you to resources and give you additional ideas.
Contact your mountain area’s management. You may need the help of your Patrol Director to find the right person. Typically, the marketing and events manager should be involved. You will want to connect with them early - September / October - so as to get your safety events on the area’s calendar. Events are usually planned months in advance and you don’t want to be told that all the weekends are taken. You’ll need to work out not just the day or weekend, but also where you will set up. Will you be on the patio or base area? Will there be a tent or canopy? Will you be using NSP branded banners or the Mountain area ones?
If you are told that weekends are already too full, suggest that they hold the safety event in conjunction with another activity, such as ski demo days, learn to ski or ride days, or even during the mountain retail store sale days. Events can benefit from each other and you will draw a bigger crowd.
Purchase NSP Safety Materials Kits from NSP. These kits contain safety materials to help you run safety events. The new materials kits should be available in October. Be sure to order early as the distribution is first come, first serve.
Resources: NSP Safety Team page; nspeast.org safety page; programs; award-winners/; www.lidsonkids.org; nspserves.org/ride- another-day;
Ideas for safety events and initiatives:
Safety Booths: Set up a table with a banner under a NSP Safety branded tent or canopy, if possible. Put some of the safety materials out. Talk about the responsibility code, chairlift safety, helmet fitting, etc. Give out prizes (the buffs or stickers) to those who can recite the entire responsibility code or other safety challenges you come up with.
Safety poster coloring contests: Have whiteboard posters and colored markers available for kids to draw out parts of the responsibility code. Display and give out prizes (buffs, stickers, free hot chocolate, etc) to the best ones.
Safety Festival: Combine safety booths with a tour of Ski Patrol area. Show how Patrol takes care of those who get injured. Consider having demos of proper helmet fitting and how to use the chairlift. There are many events you could incorporate into a safety festival, including scavenger hunts and raffles.
Safety Talks: Set up with Ski School and Race Teams at your area. Have each group come by the Ski Patrol building (scheduled times) for safety talks with the Patrol. Write out the responsibility code on a big marker board so all can see it. Ask members of the school / race team to give examples of each of the responsibility code. These talks are great to do early at the start of the race team season. Assign an instructor to take pictures of their group to post on your area’s website.
Videos: Make videos of the responsibility code and chairlift safety. Work with the mountain’s event & marketing contact. Oftentimes, they are also the videographer. You can write up a script of the lines - stating the responsibility code, for example - and get members of the patrol or ski school to enact out parts of the code. You can do the same for how to load, ride & unload the chairlift safely. You could also make short video clips of “Safety Tip of the Week”. These video clips can be posted on the mountain’s website and social media.
Measure the success of your safety event: Take pictures of the event and post them on social media and your area’s website. Note how many people attended your event and what the impact was. Were customers more aware of safety after the event?
Remember, that Safety events can take place throughout the season. The Eastern Division Safety Team may be able to loan you NSP branded tents. If we get a schedule of your events, then we can stagger how the tents can be used.
Our mission is to make our customers aware of how to stay safe while enjoying the sport. Using some of these tips can help you accomplish this goal.
Stress and Safety for Patrollers
Patrollers, as First Responders, have by nature of their profession, occupational hazards. These hazards, also known as stress injury, affect our physical, mental and emotional well being.
PTSD is a part of Stress Injury. PTSD is more chronic and most likely occurs because of unaddressed stress injury.
Stress can lead to physical changes in our body. Stress causes an increase in cortisol secretion. Chronically elevated cortisol can lead to increased inflammation, sleep disruption, weight gain, pathological fractures, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cardiac injuries, diabetes and perhaps, cancer.
Exposure from our job is an important piece; but its not the whole story. Most of us are volunteer patrollers. Many of us have day jobs that have their own occupational risk of stress, such as law enforcement, firefighters and EMS. Stress injuries from all aspects of our lives add up to a cumulative stress risk.
Stress injury exposure affects all parts of our Brain. The brainstem (Reptilian brain) controls basic functions such as heart rate and breathing. The Limbic (Neo Mammalian brain) is the seat of emotional and hormonal regulation (the home of intrinsic memory). The neocortex is our executive thinking center and our incident command for survival.
Stress injury causes our sympathetic system (fight or flight - adrenalin) to be activated. Our parasympathetic system (vagus nerve) sends us the signal of “all clear” to calm us down. This balance of hormonal regulation (adaptation) is healthy and makes us resilient to future triggers for stress.
However, if we don’t get that “all clear” notification (parasympathetic calm down), we can remain in a state of sympathetically induced hyper-arousal and hyper-alertness. Our Brain is telling us that we are still in danger, keeping us in survival mode - even though the coast is clear. In this case, we may feel that everything is dangerous, preventing us from being in a safe place.
Prolonged arousal can lead to: sleep disturbances, irritable behavior, angry outbursts, difficulty concentrating, reckless self destructive behavior and depression. No place is a safe place. Negative thoughts can make a person isolate themselves from others. It is common for them to avoid memories, thoughts or feelings of the original experience and to avoid external reminders of the event. This is when patrollers stop taking care of kids, or stop running the scene, or just quit.
Stress Injury Early Changes: loss of vitality, dreading work, criticism, avoidance, lack of
Stress Injury Later Changes: sleep disturbance, substance use, anxiety, irritability, isolation, hopelessness and depression.
Near miss trauma & cumulative stress puts us on a continuum from well being to major depression. This continuum was originally developed by the Military and ranges from the color Green to Red. Green (Emotionally healthy = good to go), Yellow (Reacting = early changes), Orange (Injured = start of late changes including fatigue & burnout), Red (Ill = late changes including thoughts of suicide).
Stress Injury Continuum Model:
Reacting to Stressor (traumatic incident or situation)
Psychological First Aid: These are first steps to mitigate the stress injury cascade; to reduce the initial distress; to foster adaptive functioning and coping.
Components of psychological first aid include:
Create a sense of safety
Create self & collective efficacy • Create connection
What can we do? How can we intervene and mitigate against stress injury formation? The goal is to move toward the Green section of the Stress Injury Continuum.
Goals for Staying GREEN and Getting to GREEN:
I’m sleeping 8 hours per day without nightmares
I’m not dreading going to work or patrol shift
I’m not using booze or drugs to numb out what hurts • I’m laughing with my children, partner, spouse
I can take pleasure in the small things • My body feels strong; it doesn’t hurt
I can listen to my body’s cues
I wake up looking forward to the day • I am meditating or praying
I have time and desire to help others
I like myself
I have enough left over to care for my family • My friend’s tell me “I’m back”
I head to the mountains regularly
Ways to do this:
Refresher training to understand psychological first aid and the cause of stress injury
Patrollers calculate their own stress continuum and develop personal green choices
Create a “Culture of Safety” with emphasis on connection, time off for rest, exercise,
Re-think the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) tool: Change it from delayed reaction
to early action and to better shield ourselves from stress injury formation by preparedness that is patrol directed.
Melinda Mingus, MD - Eastern Division Safety Advisor
Eastern Division Safety Team: Sadie Prescott (Western NY), Dave Sacchitella (Western MA), Bryant Hall (WAPP), Wendy Aarnio (Southern VT), Jesse Remmey (Northern VT), Bob Wright (NH), Timothy Bruce (Maine), Dallas Coffman (EMARI), James Policelli (Eastern PA)
Laura McGladrey, RN, EMT-W, FNP, FAWM
Bike Safety Event, Powder Ridge, July 2020
Safety Day at Pahquioque -- 2020