Tracy Barbutes
The Union Democrat
Bill Rozak
The Union Democrat

A young Dodge Ridge Ski Patroller walked into the group’s clinic in the lodge at the base of the mountain a week ago during a busy day on the slopes. He held something in his hands then asked what he should do with a heaping bag of snow and vomit.

Probably not the exact dilemma he expected to solve when he started his day patrolling the resorts 862 inbounds acres.

But as a Dodge Ridge Ski Patroller, you do it all. Safety for all is at the top of that list and cleaning that stain in the snow maybe helped a rider that would do anything to avoid it. Even get injured trying steer clear.

During normal, busy days, patrollers locate lost children, and lost parents, safely transport injured skiers and boarders pulling a toboggan, sit at a desk an answer phones while looking at an epic powder day out the window, coordinate volunteer operations among a mass of other things. They do that all while kindly and professionally welcoming guests into a medical clinic.

It’s all in a day’s work for members of the Dodge Ridge National Ski Patrol (DRNSP). Each of the nearly 100 members, both paid and volunteer, adhere to the patrol’s core values: excellence, service, camaraderie, integrity, leadership, responsiveness, responsibility.

Ski patrol is looking for more members that can work within those values and will host an applicant-screening day at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. Applicants can learn how the patrol operates, what is expected all while being evaluated.

Patrol Rep Dore Bietz, who has been a patrol volunteer for 11 years, coordinates volunteers’ work schedules, all of who must commit a minimum of 10 days per ski season to the resort. She also ensures everyone has their required training and (re)certification.

Bietz learned to ski at Dodge Ridge as a child and was a ski team mom for her two daughters. It was during this time that other race team parents suggested she become a member of ski patrol. Volunteering has always been a part of her life. She thought it would be a great way to give back to a place that brought so much to her and to her family.

If people need assistance while at Dodge, whether on the slopes, in the lodge or in the parking lot, ski patrol is there to help.

Yes. According to DRNSP rep, Kendall Jewett, people have injured themselves putting on, and taking off, ski boots.

“Patrolling, that’s what we do,” said Jewett. “We are out on the slopes, looking, watching, listening, for people that are injured, calling for help. We are checking all the time. We take care of anyone who is injured.

“We definitely do have fun here. And when it gets to work, then everybody pitches in. It’s great cooperation between everyone.”

Jewett, who starting skiing sometime before 1982, originally worked for Dodge Ridge as a lift operator. He joined ski patrol full time in 1987, the same year he battled the Complex Fire in his other job — a firefighter.

One of the most rewarding things for Jewett is having kids come in (to base patrol operations). “If you can get them smiling, that’s very rewarding.”

Whether paid or volunteer, every ski patroller is committed to safety and collaboration. All members of ski patrol must be OEC (Outdoor Emergency Care) certified or must be an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) or enrolled in an EMT program.

“We all work together and our capabilities are the same. This becomes our family,” said Bietz.

Alison Mohr started skiing at Dodge Ridge this season. She said the ski resort “feels like family, like home. There are so many people who are just learning how to ski or who have been skiing here since they learned how to ski. I just love seeing people succeed here.”

Mohr, who recently moved to Sonora for nurse training at Columbia College, also said, “I’ve helped out a lot of people. Everybody has been so happy to be here and grateful. I am happy to be here and grateful as well.”

Dave Alley, who has been with NSP for 37 years stated, “What better job? I love it and I still have a passion for it. It’s the camaraderie.” Of those 37 years, he’s spent 29 patrolling at Dodge Ridge. “I like early morning opening, being out there the first ones when it’s all quiet and the scenery is kind of cool and we’re the last ones off the mountain.”

His advice for anyone interested in joining ski patrol? First, get your medical – OEC. You have to be a good skier or rider. And then you have to have good people skills because you have to fit in with guests and the rest of the patrollers. “You’ll have a blast. And you’ll be like me and you’ll do it forever.”

For more information about ski patrol, visit www.nspdodgeridge.org/node/25 or email Bietz at dorebietz@aol.com .

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