The Canadian Ski Patrol (French: Patrouille canadienne de ski) is a national, non-profit, registered charitable organization that is volunteer-based and provides advanced first aid and emergency response services at more than 230 ski resorts and Nordic centres as well as hundreds of recreational and sporting events across Canada. The Canadian Ski Patrol (CSP) has more than 4,500 registered members consisting of all alpine disciplines, Nordic skiers as well as non-skiers, making it the largest volunteer-based certified first responder organization in Canada. Members of the CSP are involved in accident prevention and investigation, managerial activities, and patroller and public education.
In 1941, doctor of osteopathic medicine Gordon Campbell and doctor of osteopathic medicine named Douglas Firth were asked by an executive of the Canadian Amateur Ski Association (CASA) to organize and train a first aid rescue team to patrol the ski resorts in the Toronto area. It was from this request that the Canadian Ski Patrol System (CSPS) was formed as a standing committee of the CASA with independent patrols in different areas. During the years between 1941 and 1948, the Second World War restricted expansion, but the Toronto-area and Montreal-area patrols united to form the nucleus of a national organization.
In the 1960s, following a dramatic increase in the popularity of skiing as a family sport, the services provided by the CSPS were in great demand. Registration grew to more than 650 individuals, with members providing services in Quebec, the Lakehead area (now Thunder Bay, Ontario), Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton in addition to the original central Ontario and Montreal regions.
In 1961, the CSPS became an accredited national charity and gained independence from the CASA.
In 1967, Governor General of Canada Georges Vanier became the first patron on the CSPS. The current patron is His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston.
During the late 1960s, expansion continued both in the east and in the west with the addition of an Atlantic Division and the formation of a zone which covered a broad area within British Columbia. Membership grew proportionately, with approximately 2,500 patrollers registered by the end of the decade. The following year, the Saskatchewan Division was formed and, by 1975, registration had reached 4,200 patrollers.
A national management committee was established in 1978 to handle the operation of the system and the following year the organization moved its head office to a permanent facility in Ottawa. Today the head office remains in the same location, with three full-time staff members who manage day-to-day operations.
In 2013, the Canadian Ski Patrol System name was officially changed to the Canadian Ski Patrol (CSP) and the current logo with a red leaf and a white cross was adopted.
The CSP is divided into Divisions, each of which is led by a Division President, an Education Officer as well as other officers as required. Divisions are further sub-divided into Zones, with a Zone President, executive officers (including an education officer), patrol leaders (one for each ski area), and members (patrollers).
The nine Divisions and their internal member Zones are:
Atlantic East DivisionCabot Zone
Terra Nova Zone
Humber Dorset Zone
Atlantic West DivisionFundy Zone
North Border Zone
Quebec DivisionAbitibi Zone
De Lanaudière Zone
Val Saint-Côme Ski Resort
Est du Québec Zone
Ontario DivisionAlgonquin Zone
Sault Ste. Marie Zone
Manitoba DivisionLake of the Woods Zone
Red River Zone
Saskatchewan DivisionBatoche Zone
Mountain DivisionCalgary Zone
Drayton Valley Zone
Elk Valley Zone
Fort McMurray Zone
Red Deer Zone
Southern Alberta Zone
Pacific North DivisionDawson Creek Zone
Fort St. John Zone
Prince George Zone
Skeena Valley Zone
Pacific South DivisionApex Zone
Crow's Nest Zone
Greater Vancouver Zone
Recognized by the federal government, all patrollers are required to complete or recertify annually in an advanced first aid course, which includes CPR, AED, oxygen therapy, and WHMIS training. They also receive on-snow and accident-scene management training as well as safety education. Following successful completion or recertification of their training, each member is certified in advanced first aid and rescue procedures as an advanced first aid responder.
The initial certification course is a minimum of 60 hours, while annual recertification courses are a minimum of 16 hours. Successful completion of a certification course also requires successful completion of written, skills, diagnostic and CPR/AED testing.
The first aid and CPR certification provided by the CSP is recognized by most workplace safety agencies across Canada.
Members participating in alpine and Nordic disciplines are required to maintain their on-snow certification. On-snow certification consists of being able to demonstrate adequate skiing or snowboarding skills, the ability to properly and safely handle a toboggan, with and without being loaded with a patient, effectively manage an accident scene.
The CSP provides the full range of services which would be needed by an alpine or Nordic facility; advanced first-aid and emergency response, patient extrication and transportation, safety initiatives, and avalanche response. Members of the CSP typically make trail verifications before the official opening of the mountain for the general public in order to mark possible danger zones and close slopes deemed inappropriate for recreational skiing and snowboarding.
The CSP provides medical and first response services at events year round such as marathons, festivals, and bikeathons.
Some notable events which the CSP has provided medical services at include the 1998 Calgary and 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Canada Winter Games, Becel Ride for Heart, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and the Ottawa Bluesfest.