Nordic Ski Patrolling includes a tremendous variety of activities. In the midwest, much of our patrolling is to cover races: we either ski along the course, offering help as needed and evacuating injured racers, or we man aid stations and help as people come to us. We also patrol trail networks attached to destination resorts, such as those at Giants Ridge in Minnesota or Minocqua Winter Park in Wisconsin. And we head off into the woods and support trips into remote parks or wilderness areas for a day, an overnight, or for several days.
The injuries and medical problems we deal with are somewhat different from those seen in downhill areas. We are less likely to see broken bones; falls on cross-country skis are slower and have less energy, so we tend to see more abrasions and sprains. Since we’re usually out for longer periods, we see more hypothermia and exposure injuries. We may have a long time between locating an injured skier and delivering them to EMS, so we must be good at sheltering a patient and keeping them warm. And if we’re out in the woods, we need to be able to improvise treatment with what we have.
NSP encourages cooperation with and participation in Search and Rescue teams. In the west, some Nordic Patrols have certified S&R teams and provide service in the backcountry and avalanche-prone areas. Our patrolling areas in the midwest are not that dramatic, but even a city park can be big enough for someone to get lost, and we need to know how to look for a missing skier efficiently without putting ourselves at risk.
Some people come into Nordic Patrolling through cross-country ski racing; others start as Alpine Patrollers and find they want to cross-country ski as well. And some like winter camping and touring and want to support others who go out into the woods in winter. Whatever your special enthusiasm, the Nordic program gives you the skills to be effective in each activity.