Becoming a Snow Safety Patroller
Ever feel like hitting the slopes instead of going to school? Asa MacLaurin is one lucky guy cuz he gets to ski all day long and gets paid to do it. The 31 year-old is a snow safety patroller in Nelson, BC, Canada. That means he skis around to make sure that the slopes are safe for skiers and that no one needs medical attention.
Safety Patrollers - To the Rescue!Asa MacLaurin has been working as a snow safety patroller for about four years. On an average day, he patrols the mountain before it opens to make sure there isn't anything hazardous to skiers, all the trails are marked and areas that are dangerous are closed and marked with the proper signage. One of the major safety hazards he takes care of is preventing avalanches. When there's been a heavy snowfall and areas run the risk of an avalanche, Asa and other safety patrollers start a controlled avalanche using dynamite. That way, it happens when no one is around and prevents a natural avalanche from hurting or killing someone.
Safety Patrollers - The Good, the Bad and the UglyThe obvious good stuff about being a snow safety patroller is getting paid to ski all day! Working outside in nature is pretty cool too and people are very social on the slope. But when you're seeing people get badly injured or caught in avalanches, things can get scary. As well, when there's no snow on the mountain, you'll be out of a job.
Safety Patrollers - How's the $$$?Obviously, you only work from around December to March, but a snow safety patroller can make between $10-15,000 CDN, plus get a free ski pass.
Safety Patrollers - Training & EquipmentYou don't become a safety patroller with a little first aid course under your belt and a stick of dynamite in hand - there's a lot more to it. Asa took the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) level 1 training program where he learned avalanche rescue and prevention. He also took his Occupational First Aid level 3. Snow safety patrollers also have on the job training where they learn ski lift evacuation procedures and risk management assessment. Oh yeah, and you have to be a pretty decent skier too. If you're still in the snow plow phase - forget it!
The main equipment, aside from ski gear, is an avalanche transceiver (beacon), a shovel, a probe (used to poke into the snow after an avalanche to find buried people) and a first aid kit. He also has climbing skins for his skis that allow him to climb upwards without sliding back and rescue toboggans are used as stretchers. Helmet, goggles and a Gortex shell is what he wears to get the job done.