Our Role at Mt Hotham
Ski Patrol operates to minimise the risk of injury and exposure to hazards for all persons in the resort and to provide assistance for injured or lost persons in the alpine region over winter. This is achieved by constant maintenance of the resort’s slopes, monitoring the ever- changing conditions in the alpine region, and educating resort visitors on safe and appropriate use. All patrollers are qualified in advanced emergency care and many are qualified and trained in various aspects of rescue in the Victorian alpine areas. Mount Hotham Ski Patrol operates with a staff of paid professional full and part time patrollers as well as a large group of dedicated volunteer patrollers.
Patrollers at Mount Hotham are easily recognisable by their uniforms. All patrollers wear red and black with a large white cross on the back and a smaller cross on each arm.
Main Purposes of Ski Patrol
The main purposes of the Mount Hotham Ski Patrol are to:
- Minimise the risk of injury and exposure to hazards for all resort users
- To educate resort users about safe and appropriate behaviour in the Alpine environment
- Administer first aid assistance to injured persons on the snow
- Transfer those requiring further medical attention to the Ambulance Service and then onto the Hotham Medical Centre
- In conjunction with the Victorian Police and other emergency services to search for and rescue skiers lost in Alpine areas
- Serve the public with other assistance and skiing information
- Improve safety standards within the resort.
We also conduct Snow Skills programs designed to increase awareness and educate visitors about the alpine environment. Through the provision of these courses we hope to prepare people for the Alps and as a result, prevent accidents rather than cure them.
A Typical Day
A Patrollers day begins with a team meeting to assign openings and to provide an update of the expected resort conditions, then out on the mountain at 8am. All ski areas and rescue equipment are checked, ensuring the appropriate signs, fences and ropes are in place to warn snow users of hazards and run conditions. Sometimes, due to weather, snow conditions and other factors, certain areas become too hazardous to ski and consequently the patrol will close them.
All runs, fences and equipment are regularly checked throughout the day as skiing activity and changing weather can affect the conditions of the slopes. Patrollers are always observing and addressing hazardous situations on the slopes.
We are out on the hill everyday of the season, regardless of weather. We love snowy and sunny days, but we are also out even if it is raining and you are in your lodge, keeping warm and dry. On white out days we are out there ensuring you are not lost, and sweeping the mountain at last light to ensure you are home safe.
Provision of first aid and transportation of injured skiers to the Medical Centre is the highest priority. There are always patrollers positioned on the mountain to quickly respond to these needs. In addition to these activities patrollers are often involved in areas of training, replacement and maintenance of rescue equipment, planning and public relations.
At the end of each day, patrollers ride the last lifts and make a final sweep of each run to ensure that no snow users remain on the runs, and to assist tired skiers and boarders get home. During this closing sweep of the mountain, all ropes and signs are packed away and any changes or anomalies are noted for investigation the next morning. We finish each day with a team debrief.