Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nordic Patrol 2010-2011 Season Training Kickoff

Here's another treat left in my in box over the holidays: a pair of contributions to the volunteer blog! For the record, I love it when volunteers send me things to publish, because I love having another voice other than mine on these pages. So without further ado, here's the first of the two articles, both by Ski Patrol member Phil Hertzog. The other will be published tomorrow:

Nordic Patrol 2010-2011 Season Training Kickoff

Twenty Washington Ski Touring Club (WSTC) members braved potential torrential rainfall and flooding to attend Nordic Patrol Training at Mount Rainier National Park on December 11. The WSTC provides the Park with volunteers to assist in winter backcountry operations. WSTC Nordic Patrol Coordinator Mace White greeted the volunteers with freshly baked, warm sweet rolls as they entered the Patrol House at the historic Longmire Complex. The Patrollers crowded into the living room of the former Ranger residence and settled into chairs and open spots on the floor. Mace introduced our members to Backcountry National Park Service (NPS) Ranger Dan Camiccia, who serves as NPS’s Nordic Patrol lead.

The training started off with WSTC Board Member Deborah Dickstein reviewing the history of the Nordic Patrol and WSTC’s close relationship with the Mt. Rainier rangers. Dan Camiccia then went through standard operations and expectations for the Patrol and explained what happens during a typical day. Nordic Patrollers reviewed NPS radio operations, volunteer reporting forms, search and rescue procedures, wildlife encounter protocols, and communications with park visitors. Dan provided detail on issues the Patrol will need to educate Park visitors on including feeding of the Paradise foxes and birds, avalanche safety, hypothermia, dogs on the trail, and trail directions.

In the late morning, the training session moved from Longmire uphill to the Jackson Visitor Center (JVC) where Patrollers met in the Interpreters Office for lunch and orientation on JVC operations. After lunch, the Nordic Patrollers bundled up and went outside to the old ranger station where Dan and Park Ranger Jordan Mammal taught us how to package up an injured person. WSTC members learned how to snap pieces of the Cascade litters into place and to properly wrap and tie victims safely for transport.

Despite the sleet turning into rain at temperatures just above freezing on an overcast day, NPS staff and Nordic Patrollers practiced hauling two litters with each carrying a “victim” over the Paradise Snow Play Area through knee deep snow. The patrollers moved the litters around trees, crossed side slopes, and wore skis/snowshoes to simulate actually rescue conditions. The patrollers gained an appreciation for the difficulty of using the litters and insight on how to help out NPS Rangers during rescue operations.

After the outdoor session, the training returned to the JVC to finish the day with a review of avalanche transceiver use and protocols for finding buried victims. Overall WSTC Nordic Patrol Coordinators Mace White and Phil Hertzog were pleased with the large turnout for training and the time NPS staff spent preparing Nordic Patrol for the 2010-2011 Winter Season. If you have any interest in the Nordic Patrol, contact Phil or Mace through the WSTC website at or Ranger Dan Camiccia at

No comments: