About Sunrise Ski Patrol

Sunrise Ski Patrol is affiliated with the National Ski Patrol Far West Division. We patrol at Sunrise Park Resort in Arizona's White Mountains and report to Sunrise Park management. Depending on weather, our season runs from mid-December through mid-April. The team is comprised of both professional (Pro) and volunteer (National) patrollers, both involving skiers and boarders. We also have a Junior patrol program.

Our training and general ski patrol protocols are developed by the National Ski Patrol program. Information on the individual types of patrol and required training is provided in the tabs below.

  • National Ski Patrol
  • Professional Patrol
  • Base Patrol
  • Junior Patrol
  • Outdoor Emergency Care
  • Refresher Training
  • Required Skills

National Ski Patrol(NSP)is a volunteer organization involved in ski areas around the U.S. and also participates as medical first responders in other outdoor activities in some areas. NSP develops and maintain the Outdoor Emergency Care and other training programs, along with general safety protocols.

At Sunrise, the National patroller is required to complete 12 weekend/holiday days per season. Professional patrol and National patrol share nearly identical duties. The common duties and requirements are explained here. The primary purpose of National patrol is to assist the area's Professional patrol, specifically on weekends and holidays. The differences for Pro patrol are explained under the "Professional Patrol" tab. Yearly dues and additional initial cost are described under "Cost" below.

National Patrol consists of both on-hill (Alpine) and Base patrollers. All types of patrollers are required to take and pass the NSP Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) course and maintain current OEC and CPR certification. OEC competence is maintained by attending yearly refreshers. National on-hill (Alpine) patrollers are also required to take and pass NSP-structured toboggan training ("pulling sleds")for transporting injured patients off of the hill. After successfully completing this training, the National patroller is qualified to pull a sled on any run (green thru double-black).

The Base patroller is not trained to "pull sleds." Base patrol is explained in detail under the "Base Patrol" tab. Following OEC and CPR certification, an individual may choose to immediately work as an Base patroller, to enter a season of toboggan training, or enter the Professional program (depending on ski area needs at that time).

National patrollers receive skiing benefits (season passes) depending on the number of years of service. A National alpine patroller's first year is called a "candidate year." No compensation is provided following this year. If the candidate passes toboggan training, the next year is considered the first patrol year. Benefits start this year, but the details may vary depending on conditions and ski area needs.

More About On-Hill (Alpine) Patrol

The duties of on-hill patrollers (National and Pro) span a long day, from getting the mountain open in the morning to completing final sweep (ensuring all guests are off the mountain) at closing. Hence the slogan "We're first on and last off." During a good snow year, this often means "first tracks." On-hill patrollers are responsible for maintaining safety features of the hill such as fences, lift tower padding, slow signs and obstacle markers. They are also responsible for maintaining a presence on various runs to help assist guests and ensure that everyone skis or rides safely and under control. They may also observe lift loading and unloading areas to keep guest clear of the unloading ramp, and assist guests as required. In brief, we want to ensure our guests have a safe and fun skiing or riding experience.

When there is an accident on the hill, alpine patrollers have the responsibility to respond to the accident, ensuring that the scene is safe, assessing the patient (or patients) for immediate medical needs, addressing those needs and then safely transporting the patient from the accident site to one of the ski patrol stations at either the Sunrise base or Apache/Cyclone base. At these stations, base patrollers perform more detailed examination and first-aid treatment.

Other responsibilities of specially-certified patrollers include emergency lift evacuation and avalanche mitigation. These activities involve training above that for typical Alpine patrolling.

It Ain't All Work!

At various times during the day, we often take a run or two just to check out things on the hill. These can be early in the day, before guests arrive, or during busy times to make sure everyone is skiing or riding safely and within their skill level (in control).

These runs give us time to work on our own skills, or to find a quiet spot where we can cut loose with no crowds to worry about. When you're on the hill this much, you get lots of opportunity to develop yourself!



Dues for the 2014-2015 season are $100 per year. Pro patrollers pay slightly less. National patrollers are required to provide their own jackets and medical pack (or patrol vest). Initial supplies for the medical pack are also the patroller's responsibility. However, replacement supplies are provided by Sunrise. NSP is a 501c organization, so actual expenses may be tax-deductable. See a qualified tax preparer for specific advice.

Professional or "Pro" patrollers work mainly on weekdays, but occasionally work weekends as well. The duties are the same as described for volunteer patrollers (under the National tab), but there are other significant differences.

Training—although a volunteer patroller may join the professional patrol staff (depending on staffing needs), the volunteer's training is through the full National Ski Patrol toboggan training program and qualifies the patroller to pull sleds on any level of run. A Pro patroller can begin working as an Alpine patroller and get toboggan training "on the job." A Pro patroller may be qualified on a graduated scale (qualified on green runs, blue runs, black and double-black runs).

Equipment—The Pro patroller has essential equipment provided by the Sunrise facility. This does not include skis and/or boards, gloves, boots, etc.

Schedule—Pro patrollers are expected to work on weekdays. The total number of days per season and the continuity of those days varies depending on the needs of management.

Compensation—The Pro patroller is paid by the hour. In addition, ski lift vouchers are provided for certain levels of service and seniority.

Once a candidate has passed the NSP Outdoor Emergency Care program and has additionally obtained their CPR certification, they may work as a Base patroller. The Base patroller works mainly in the base area patrol stations (bottom of Sunrise and Apache-Cyclone). They provide more detailed assessment and care for injured guests who have been transported by alpine patrollers. They also respond to "walk-in" guests, and walk around the base area (infield) to generally assist our guests. On a typical day, a base patroller will get to make a few runs and may serve as a first responder to an incident they come upon while skiing. While they are not permitted to assist in transport, they can provide all other on-hill medical care.

A Base patroller will become very familiar with the base area patrol stations and with more detailed emergency medical care. They are responsible for the equipment and supplies in these areas, and for exchanging vital equipment (backboards, head blocks, etc.) with ambulance and helicopter crews as they transport guests from the area.

As with alpine patrollers, the Base patroller is responsible to maintain their OEC and CPR certifications. The OEC portion is accomplished by attending the annual refresher training.

Our Junior Patrol provides an excellent opportunity for teens who love skiing or boarding to be involved in a group that promotes service, health and fitness. Here are the highlights.

  • Ages: 16 and 17
  • The junior candidate must have a sponsor on the mountain
  • If the Outdoor Emergency Care course is taken, we pay the test fee ($60)
  • The junior candidate gets to shadow patrollers and gets actual hands-on experience with many on-hill duties.
  • The junior candidate is not permitted to provide medical assistance or to assist in toboggan transport
  • For more information, contact Mike Koehlmoos (see the Contact Us menu)


The National Ski Patrol organization develops and maintains the outdoor emergency care (OEC) training required of all patrollers at Sunrise. National Ski Patrol OEC-certified technicians may be asked to provide emergency care at other outdoor activities, such as mountain biking events, triathalons, kayaking events, etc. (purely volunteer).

The classes are held in the fall, typically starting in late August to mid September and continuing until late November or early December. Typically classes are 2.5 hours long, two nights per week. Some Saturday classes may also be required if the training season is shortened for some reason. For information on cost and signing up, email us at "info@sunriseskipatrol.org" .

Currently we are using the Fifth Edition of the OEC manual. A brief outline is provided below.

Outdoor Emergency Care Course Outline

The outline below is for OEC Edition 4. An update covering Edition 5 is coming soon.

Section 1: Preparing to be a Rescuer
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction to Outdoor Emergency Care
  • Chapter 2 - The Well-Being of the Rescuer
  • Chapter 3 - Interfacing with the Emergency Medical System (EMS) and Other Medical Personnel
  • Chapter 4 - Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chapter 5 - Baseline Vital Signs and SAMPLE History

This section's chapters address the most fundamental principles of emergency medical care. The Anatomy and Physiology covered in Chapter 4 provides a strong overview of human A&P and is addressed in more detail throughout the course.

Section 2: Airway
  • Chapter 6 - Airway

Focus of this chapter is on the highly important upper and lower airways. The airway receives top priority in all emergency care.

Section 3: Patient Assessment
  • Chapter 7 - Patient Assessment
  • Chapter 8 - Bleeding
  • Chapter 9 - Shock
Section 4: Medical Emergencies
  • Chapter 10 - Respiratory Emergencies
  • Chapter 11 - Cardiovascular Emergencies
  • Chapter 12 - Neurologic Emergencies
  • Chapter 13 - Common Medical Emergencies
  • Chapter 14 - Snowsports and Mountain Biking Emergencies
  • Chapter 15 - Environmental Emergencies
  • Chapter 16 - Behavioral Emergencies
  • Chapter 17 - Obstetrics and Gynecological Emergencies
Section 5: Trauma
  • Chapter 18 - Mechanisms and Patterns of Injury
  • Chapter 19 - Soft-Tissue Injuries
  • Chapter 20 - Eye Injuries
  • Chapter 21 - Face and Throat Injuries
  • Chapter 22 - Chest Injuries
  • Chapter 23 - Abdomen and Genitalia Injuries
  • Chapter 24 - Principles of Musculoskeletal Injuries
  • Chapter 25 - Assessment and Care of Bone and Joint Injuries
  • Chapter 26 - Head and Spine Injuries
Section 6: Scene Techniques
  • Chapter 27 - Rescue Techniques: Lifts and Loads
  • Chapter 28 - Triage
  • Chapter 29 - Mass-Casualty Incident Management
Section 7: Special Populations
  • Chapter 30 - Pediatric Outdoor Emergency Care
  • Chapter 31 - OUtdoor Adaptive Athletes

After completing the Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) class, patrollers keep their proficiency by taking a refresher each fall. The refresher covers one third of the course material each year, so the complete course is covered in 3 years. The refresher is very "hands on" and involves both self-study of the OEC book and practice in the various first responder skills (backboarding, difficult patient extractions, bandaging, splinting, administering oxygen, etc.) along with Sunrise-specific skills in lift evacuation, rope skills, etc.

The fall refresher for our patrol is typically held at the Sunrise lodge near the Sunrise Park ski area, and at the ski area itself (for lift evacuation, etc.). The timeframe is early November, typically the first weekend in November.

One of the most common questions from candidate patrollers is "how well do I have to ski (ride)?" The most important criterion regarding skiing or riding is strength in the basics. A patroller must be able to effectively navigate any run on the hill. This doesn't mean you will necessarily "look good" doing it, but as you progress through toboggan training your skiing and riding skills will definitely improve.

To be accepted into the toboggan program, you must be able to pass a skiing/boarding skills assessment showing your competency in the basics, and you must be able to competently ski/board at least blue runs.

The basic skill requirements are:


  • Side slip
  • Wedge
  • Smoothly transition from wedge to side slip in both directions (in a corridor of 2--3 ski lengths wide)
  • Static turn (kick turn) (change the direction of your skis across the fall line by 180 degrees while standing still on a moderate slope without using poles)
  • Side step and duck walk up the hill
  • Long, medium and short radius turns (speed control, consistent radius, flow)
  • Hockey stops--ski quickly straight down the fall line, then stop rapidly in full control.


  • Toe and Heel Side slips (straight down fall line, no lateral motion)
  • Skidding turns
  • Carving turns
  • Falling leaf
  • Static direction change (jump turn)