Big Bear Ski Patrol is a member organization of The National Ski Patrol, serving the winter recreation industry in Big Bear Lake, CA, for over 60 years. We are a nonprofit association comprised of volunteers who provide first response medical care for the skiing/snowboarding public at Big Bear Mountain Resorts, better known as Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. The National Ski Patrol represents over 600 patrols like ours, with over 26,000 members nationally. Over 225 of those patrollers are on our staff here in Big Bear.
We continue to use the term “ski patrol” to designate our services since it has been used publicly for over 75 years, but our members consist of skiers, snowboarders, and even a few telemarkers. Not only are their sliding preference diverse, but so are their backgrounds – engineers, doctors, teachers, students and others representing many other professions. They sacrifice their free time to be part of this team and follow a passion to help others who enjoy the same winter sports they do.
There are several different positions within our organization that contribute to the overall team response aspect of ski patrol:
Alpine Patroller – the most visible members of our team are easily identified by the public as they are active on the mountain wearing their red jackets with the notable white cross. They perform many safety-oriented functions as part of our operation but are best known for responding to an injured guest that requires first aid and transportation off the mountain. This position requires strong skiing/riding skills in order to control our toboggans that often add 250 pounds to our trip down to the patrol room.
Patroller – they provide medical services at the bottom of the mountain, both in the patrol room and across the base area for guests in need of medical care. They frequently interact with local paramedics to transfer care from our patrol to the local hospital. This group of patrollers is constantly busy all day with walking injured that find the patrol room under their own power. This position does not require any skiing/riding skills to participate, but certainly a lot of compassion.
Hill Safety – while these members of our team don’t render medical care, they are active throughout the day ensuring that signage and barriers are in place to keep our guests safe. They are also on scene assisting our patrollers with all incidents and spend considerable time educating customers on safety. Since they often handle empty toboggans on our mountain, good skiing/riding skills are a requirement.
Our entire staff is required to recertify each year, so extensive training takes place on and off the mountain to stay proficient. It takes a significant personal commitment to become part of this team. As you’ll hear from each of those 26,000 patrollers who serve the mountains they love to ski, “we’re first on and last off” each day that we patrol. We love what we do and we respect each of those who do it with us. Our passion is the sport, our desire is the service.
Intrigued? Stop by the Patrol Room in the base area at Bear Mountain or Snow Summit, or drop into one of our bump shacks at the top of each peak to get more information.