Requirements to Become a Member of the Wisp Ski Patrol

Requirements to Become a Member of the Wisp Ski Patrol

So, you’re thinking of becoming a candidate. You may be asking yourself just what that means?

First of all, we would like to thank you for your interest in joining the Wisp Ski Patrol. Being a candidate means joining an extended family, as well as becoming a member of the Wisp Ski Patrol, and by extension, the National Ski Patrol System, Inc., (NSP)

The purpose of this section is to provide you with more detailed information about what to expect as a Wisp Ski Patrol candidate. Volunteer ski patrolling requires a substantial commitment, both in your time and energy. Patrollers are scheduled 14 days a season. Eastern Section (those who travel to patrol on weekends) patrollers are scheduled 7 weekends and Western Section (those who live local to Wisp Resort) patrollers are scheduled 14 weeknights, 3 of which will be on Saturday nights. All members of the patrol must attend an annual OEC refresher and volunteer at least one day at our annual fundraiser.

The first step to becoming a candidate is to ski with us, either individually during the season, or at our annual ski off in early March. For candidates selected from this group, the process begins with the NSP’s Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) course, which will be offered over a 6-month period in the summer/fall. We will follow up on this training during the ski season with on-the-hill (OTH) first aid skill sessions and skiing and toboggan (S&T), handling skill sessions which are designed to teach you the necessary expertise to become a patroller. The candidate program is designed to be a two-year course. There is a great deal to learn, and our goal is to transform the candidates into strong patrollers with excellent first aid and skiing skills. For that reason, much of the skiing and toboggan handling sessions will take place on the trail known as The Face and the on-the-hill first aid sessions will be held outside, no matter the weather, in terrain simulating real life.

Depending on the year, we may or may not hold a test at the end of the season in skiing and toboggan handling, and first aid skills. In order to participate in the test, a candidate must show that he or she 1) is mature, responsible and willing to learn and adapt, 2) attended at least 12 sessions in each category, i.e. regular attendance is necessary, 3) demonstrates a working knowledge of our local patrol and first aid protocols and standard operating procedure (S.O.P.), 4) demonstrates skiing and toboggan handling at a proficient level on the Face, and 5) adequately and satisfactorily demonstrates their knowledge and leadership ability in a multi-stage on-the-hill first aid test. As with any rule, there are some exceptions. If you have any reservations or questions regarding the candidate process, please speak with your section patrol leader, who can put you in touch with the necessary contact to discuss any questions or concerns.

Now, the good stuff – the perks. First, you get to help people. No, really, this should be your main incentive. If it isn’t, please re-think your decision to join the patrol, because even though we are only volunteers, ultimately, we serve the public. Second, you get to ski free (only at Wisp, and only when in uniform and working) – candidates receive a free season pass.

Candidates coming from the Baltimore-Washington-Virginia and Pennsylvania metropolitan areas MAY also receive a companion lift ticket on assigned duty days. As a full patroller, you will receive a season pass plus 1 and, as you put in more years, passes for additional immediate dependent family members (spouse + children). If you are single, you receive a companion ticket. Patrollers also receive discounts on food purchased in the lodge (excluding pre-packaged food). As a member in good standing of the NSP, you also may receive “pro” prices certain equipment. Some manufacturers or stores may require a letter of good standing, so make sure you stay in the good graces of your patrol director. Finally, for the past several years we have been running a weekend Black Bull Cafe, where patrollers, or their spouses, as the case may be, create wonderful meals for the gang, at the price of $5.00 per person/per serving, served at the Peak.  It avoids the crowds at the lodge and keeps everyone available to respond to accidents. The Black Bull Café will be free for patrollers on holiday weekends.

To recap, being a successful candidate requires a large commitment of time. This effort on your part will be rewarded with improved skiing and first aid skills. We have a great group of trainers willing to spend the time helping you learn to be a patroller. Patrolling adds a new dimension to the sport of skiing. The camaraderie of working in this group and the good feeling that comes from helping people creates its own rewards.

Think Snow,
Wisp Ski Patrol Management Team
PS – Please see the attached breakdown of the various need-to-know pieces of information regarding the Wisp Ski patrol.

Requirements in a Nutshell

  • OEC Course.
  • CPR for the Professional Rescuer with AED certification.
  • Participation in fundraising.
  • Participation in the running of our organization, e.g. attending meetings, email, etc.
  • Annual OEC refresher held in the fall.
  • Annual “yellow card” refresher (skiing and toboggan handling skills) completed by the 2nd weekend in January.
  • Responsible for attendance on your scheduled weekends.
  • Maintain proficiency in required skills and follow S.O.P.

Candidate Orientation Weekend

This weekend, historically the 2nd or 3rd weekend in December (TBD annually), will include both indoor and outdoor activities. Lectures/presentations introducing the workings of the Wisp Ski Patrol, tours of the mountain and the first-aid room, and various meet and greet activities to get to know the other patrollers.

Types of Initial Classifications and Education Levels

The following are the Membership Categories for volunteer and paid patrollers Primary Initial Classifications: Patroller; Alpine; Nordic/Backcountry; Bike; Candidate; YAP – Candidate; YAP – Patroller;
YAP – Alpine; YAP – Nordic/Backcountry; YAP Bike (All members under age 18 must be registered as Young Adults with the appropriate classification.

All NSP patrollers may advance to the Senior Patroller; Alpine Senior or Nordic/Backcountry Senior; Alpine Certified or Nordic/Backcountry Master skill level by meeting the requirements of those programs.

Training Assignments

All new candidates will be assigned to ski 14 days on the ski patrol schedule when training is taking place. Candidates will be assigned to a section based on scheduling needs. Western Section – 14 night-time shifts or Eastern Section – 7 weekends/14 days (both Saturday and Sunday). Candidates can take advantage of training session on either weekends or weeknights.


We have a candidate mentoring program, wherein several of our members volunteer to be the candidates’ main liaison within the ranks and to the Patrol Director, Patrol Leaders and Hill Leaders. Any questions you have or information you need the mentors will be able to supply.

Wisp Ski Patrol – Current Management Structure

On-the-hill positions:

Paid Patroller – Any patroller who is an employee of the mountain, on duty at that particular time (must be contacted in case of certain types of accidents or other procedures)

Hill Leader(s) – each weekend one volunteer patroller is assigned this status. Their job is to liaise with the paid patroller as necessary, organize the morning meeting, if applicable, man the Peak 9-10am, fill in any gaps during the weekend that crop up, handle any personnel issues, organize sweep, and be the last person to leave the hill, except for the paid patroller. The Hill Leader is also the person you must notify regarding any absence, late arrival or early departure on your scheduled days.

Patroller Duties

Once you are a patroller, you will be assigned to patrol 7 weekends or 14 days (based on your assigned section) from Thanksgiving weekend through the end of March. Besides your assigned days, you may patrol any other day you wish.

Patrollers will be assigned an hour of peak, bubble, or first aid room duty when patrolling weekends and weeknights.

Patrollers are on duty the entire time they are on the mountain – e.g. if you go into the lodge for lunch, to buy something at the ski shop, etc., you must keep your radio on and respond to any calls within a reasonable distance/location.

If a conflict or problem arises that interferes with your availability on your assigned weekends, you must 1) inform the Hill Leader and 2) make a concerted effort to obtain a replacement, and 3) as a candidate, inform your mentor. Ultimately, you must make up any missed assigned days. Note that if you do not find a replacement and you do not ski yourself, not only must you ski one day to make up the missed assigned day, but you will be assessed an additional penalty day. In your best interest, please do not “no-show” for your assigned days.

Annual Re-certifications:

Refresher weekend – usually the last weekend in October or first in November (TBD annually) held at Wisp Mountain Resort. We have our candidates attend the Wisp annual refresher and act as “patients” for the medical stations as part of their training. Once you are a patroller, you may attend any refresher running on the same “cycle.” However, you must attend at least one Wisp refresher every 3 years in order to maintain your EMR status.

The refresher is a time to practice and demonstrate your OEC, CPR, and lift evacuation skills. It is not a test. Depending on the schedule, Saturday usually runs to mid to late afternoon, and Sunday’s stations are usually finished by early to mid-afternoon. There is a banquet Saturday evening for all patrollers, friends, and family. The previous season’s candidates are responsible for the entertainment at the banquet. It usually consists of roasts and toasts, skits, awards, etc.

Every Sunday (unless a holiday weekend), the on-duty patrollers gather for Sunday “Sweep”. The patrollers work in teams to sweep the trails for any lost, slow or injured skiers and boarders. The hill leader will coordinate Sweep with the on-duty patrollers, the paid patroller and any other necessary parties.

Yellow card -Yellow card is usually held the first 2 weekends in January. Similar to the first aid refresher, this weekend gives patrollers a chance to practice and demonstrate their ski and toboggan skills. All patrollers must maintain their skills to their level of patroller certification.

Instructor Development Course

The Instructor Development course is highly recommended.  The course teaches about the various areas and types of instruction and how instructors can apply those principles to create a positive learning experience for their students. It helps to build a strong foundation of knowledge for use when planning and delivering lessons. The information covered in this course is applicable to all potential NSP instructors, regardless of instructional specialty. It is also required in order to participate as an instructor in the OEC course or skiing and toboggan handling, or to advance to senior level or better for patrollers.


Fall Meetings – launch the upcoming season with reminders, and new information from the mountain. Depending on your home location, you can attend either one of the fall meetings being held.

Spring Meetings – give a wrap up of the season and elections for patrol leadership are held.


As a member of the Wisp Ski Patrol, we ask that you to participate in the fundraising activities, for the betterment of the patrol as a whole. Additionally, any suggestions for additional or alternative fundraising are always welcome.

Whew! That about sums it up. There is always additional information that gets transmitted based on the needs of the season. The key is to be flexible, pro-active, and eager to learn.

Here is A Day In The Life Of A Wisp Ski Patrol Candidate:

Just a recap of your schedules and responsibilities/tasks while you are on the mountain. 

Monday – Friday training:

There is not set formal training times. If you are going to be at the mountain Monday thru Friday, contact Danny Swartzentruber,, to arrange for training. 

Saturday & Sunday:

Report to the Bull Pen to be booted and ready to go by 7:30am. Arrive as early as you need to prepare yourself for the day. 

Sign-in in the appropriate section on the Ski Patrol attendance clipboard on the desk. This is how you get credit for your shifts. 

7:30-11am – starting in the Bull Pen, pair with a patroller to check sleds. Sled assignments are listed on the sign-in clipboard where the patrollers sign in. Immediately following sled checks, begin S&T training.

11-1pm – 1 hour of aid-room duty and 1 hour for lunch. You pick which hour you are doing which. Be sure to note it on the Sign-In clipboard in the Bull Pen. 

1-4pm – meet at the peak at 1pm for mentoring/shadowing or OEC training on Saturdays & OEC scenario training on Sundays 

4-5pm – peak duty shadowing, report to the peak and be prepared for dispatch to shadow patrollers on calls to injuries (this is real life training).

All candidates are members of the Wisp Ski Patrol and are required to get 14 full weekend days in each season. 

Should something come up that prohibits you from maintaining the above schedule, you will need to report to the designated weekend Hill Leader before adjusting any schedules. 

We are not allowed to leave the premises of Wisp Resort during our scheduled shifts without permission from the designated Hill Leader. 

Regarding EMR, you cannot treat patients as the lead without being EMR certified. You MUST obtain your EMR certification by December 31st immediately following your NSP OEC final exam. It may seem like a lot but we have a team of patrollers to help you through every step of the way!  WELCOME!!!