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Wisp Ski Patrol

Wisp Ski Patrol is a part of the National Ski Patrol System, a member-driven non-profit organization that values service, camaraderie, leadership, and integrity. Our local patrol supports and participates in the outdoor recreation community by providing emergency care, rescue and education services.

Ski Patrol Recognition

There are many moving parts at any ski resort and all jobs and positions are crucial to the overall successful operation.  The roles of each department vary and often overlap other segments within the resort which truly make us a Team at Wisp Resort. There is one department whose top priority is SAFETY.  And by safety, we mean Guest Safety.  The Wisp Ski Patrol has the monumental task of keeping our slopes (along with tubing hill and other areas) safe for guests to recreate on and caring for guests when an incident occurs.

Recently, December 2017, Wisp Ski Patrol managed an incident on the slopes where a young adult was involved.  The Patrol Team present was recognized by the mother of the injured in a touching letter and shortly thereafter was thanked by the Ownership and Management of Wisp Resort.  We share this letter as a testimony to all of the Ski Patrollers at Wisp Resort -- Thank You!


I wanted to contact you to give you an update on my son, Andrew C. He is the 16 year old who ran into a tree on Wisp Trail the day before yesterday. I am overwhelmed with emotion and saying thank you doesn’t seem to be enough, but I do very much want to thank the men and women who helped him, and I believe saved him. He was transported swiftly to Ruby Hospital in Morgantown and they did CT scans that showed no bleeding in the brain and no broken bones other than some small ones in the bridge of his nose. They gave him many stitches in his face and kept him overnight for observation. He was released yesterday and we brought him home to Arlington last night. His helmet was dented so deeply in the front outside, but no damage on the inside and there is no doubt to me that it saved him. He does have a concussion and those can be tricky to know how they will play out, but his memory and cognitive skills are intact, and he is improving each day, we are so grateful. When I went online just now to find a way to contact you I was amazed to learn that most of the ski patrol is made up of volunteers. I’m so touched by your generosity with your time and skills. I do not know if they kind of care you gave my son is routine for you there on Wisp mountain, but I do know that it was the most terrifying moments of my life and to have the kind of care your team provided made all the difference in the world to all of us. To extend the care to helping my other two kids down the mountain and reassuring me and my husband, and making sure I had shoes on instead of ski boots when I got in the ambulance, is a level of detail I was not capable of and I’m so grateful to you for being there. I wish I knew the names of the our heros, but I trust that you will and will pass on our sincere thanks.

If you have any idea who the couple was that happened to be skiing by that helped us was please let me know, or at least update them. She was a nurse, and I believe they were sent from heaven. They helped us clear the blood from his mouth so he could breath and they helped use keep him stable. There were many kind strangers that helped, the man that thought to stand on the slope to wave the ski patrol down was brilliant in my opinion. Oh, and if you see the paramedics and driver that were in the ambulance, they were amazing too, and I’m sorry about all the feathers from his coat all over their rig!

I also checked my phone and I was on with 911 from the time I saw him until you got there - only 7 minutes - that’s phenomenal. Thank you so much.

God bless you,
Sarah C.

Below is the Wisp Patrol Team that responded to the above incident. 


Pictured above:  From Top Left:  PJ Dailey of Swanton, MD; Hugh Blocker of Bowie, MD; Brian Smith of Rockville, MD; James Moon of Frostburg, MD  From Bottom Left:  Melody Chen of Rockville, MD; Lisa Robinson of Beltsville, MD; Kevin Sherwood of Springfield, VA

History of Wisp Ski Patrol

When Wisp Resort opened in the mid 1950's, ski clubs generally brought their own patrollers with them. As Wisp grew, the need for a permanent patrol was evident. George Kearns, Barney Dunbar, Bruce Anderson, and others worked with the late Wisp founder, Helmuth 'Ace' Heise to establish the patrol.  A couple of years later, Bob Sincell, Harold Ashby, Sonny Winters, and Bill Savage joined the patrol, forming the nucleus for its leadership over the next several years. American Red Cross Advanced First Aid was required of all patrollers, communication was done with hand signals and the toboggans used came from Sun Valley, Idaho but the program was established. The first aid room was a corner of the old ski hut that had no heat, and there was no ambulance service. At that time, with the use of "bear trap" bindings, lower leg fractures were common.  

Meanwhile, outside of Baltimore, a patrol was established in 1963 by Jack Hawthorne at the Oregon Ridge Ski Area. Under Dick Guth, the patrol flourished but the Oregon Ridge Ski Area developed financial woes. When ORSA closed in 1967, Ed Ziegenfuss coordinated moving the ORMSP up to Wisp Resort to help weekend coverage.  With the opening of Chair 1, the patrol had a new first aid room located on the East side of the A-frame at the base of Chair 1. The patrol acquired its first Cascade Toboggans and put in telephones on Beaver, Deer, and Possum. At this point, there were around 45 patrollers (10 Wisp, 35 ORMSP). There were approximately 70 reported ski injuries in 1970.

By the late 70's, the ski patrol had grown to 70 members and hired paid patrollers to cover weekdays. The first aid room was moved to the other side of the A-frame where the general offices are now located. The yellow card for re-certification was installed and the first radios were purchased.  Wisp was certified by the Eastern Division of the National Ski Patrol System as a senior test hill and the patrol developed comprehensive skiing and first aid training programs, copied by patrols in both Western Pennsylvania and the Southern Appalachian Region.  

Today, Wisp Resort's Ski Patrol is made up of 88 active patrollers, 76 of which are volunteer and come from all over the region including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh.  The current Patrol Team has 1,205 years of combined experience on the slopes!  

Visit the official Wisp Ski Patrol website here.


Have you considered becoming a Ski Patrol Candidate?

Being a candidate means joining an extended family, as well as becoming a member of the Wisp Ski Patrol, and by extension, the National Ski Patrol System, Inc., (NSP)

Volunteer ski patrolling requires a substantial commitment, both in your time and energy. Patrollers are scheduled 14 days a season. Eastern Section patrollers are scheduled 7 weekends and Western Section patrollers are scheduled 14 weeknights, 3 of which will be on Saturday nights. All members of the patrol must attend an annual OEC refresher and volunteer at least one day at our annual fundraiser.

Being a successful candidate requires a large commitment of time. This effort on your part will be rewarded with improved skiing and first aid skills. We have a great group of trainers willing to spend the time helping you learn to be a patroller. Patrolling adds a new dimension to the sport of skiing. The camaraderie of working in this group and the good feeling that comes from helping people creates its own rewards.

Requirements in a Nutshell

Annual Ski -Off

The ski-off usually takes place on a weekend in the beginning of March. This is the time where prospective candidate's skiing skills will be evaluated in preparation of each candidate being declared a patroller candidate or an auxiliary candidate should the prospective candidate successfully complete the interview process.

The ski-off gives the Wisp Ski Patrol Management Team a chance to see how trainable the applicants are and give more info on what joining the patrol entails. The ski-off starts at 8:30am in the patrol room at the bottom of chair 1 and takes about 2-3 hours to complete the process. Prospective candidates will be provided with a lift ticket. It is possible to "ski-off" at other times throughout the season. Simply inform us of your schedule and a common date and time can be arranged.

The Wisp Ski Patrol reserves the right to turn down any application for any reason.

Course & Membership Costs - subject to change at anytime (Incidentals not included)

The following is a breakdown of the cost for the Outdoor Emergency Care course and membership dues for the NSP. All of these costs go right to the NSP and not to Wisp. A check for these costs should be made payable to Wisp Ski Patrol and mailed to Wendy Thompson, Treasurer; c/o Wisp Ski Patrol; 5 Turnberry Court; Lutherville, Maryland 21093. Your official training cannot take place until we receive your check and we register you with the National Ski Patrol System. If for some reason you have some of the required texts, you will only need to pay for the supplies you need in addition to the registration fees and membership dues.

Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) course

The OEC course is an online course July thru mid-November. Practical sessions are held once or twice a month at Wisp to review the online material.  Practical and written tests are held mid-November.

If you are an EMT, you can challenge the OEC written and practical tests. The traditional OEC course generally takes 3 to 4 months to complete. Once you complete the OEC course you will take an additional written First Responder Test to qualify you as a First Responder in the State of Maryland.

CPR Course (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation)

All candidates are required to participate in, or prove their current certification in, 1 and 2 person, infant, child and adult CPR (including knowledge of foreign body airway obstruction). We will also go over the use or oral and nasal airways and the use of the oxygen tank and associated paraphernalia (bag-valve mask, nasal cannula, suction, etc.). The course will be offered at a TBD location and time. As noted above, there are fees associated with this course.

Candidate Orientation Weekend

This weekend, historically the 2nd or 3rd weekend in December (TBD annually), will include both indoor and outdoor activities. Lectures/presentations introducing the workings of the Wisp Ski Patrol, tours of the mountain and the first-aid room, and various meet and greet activities to get to know the other patrollers.

Types of Member Levels

There are five types of member levels. Member levels refer to five categories of registration that pertain to the patroller's level of education achievement: candidate, patroller, senior alpine or nordic, senior auxiliary and certified

Training Assignments

All new candidates will be assigned to ski 14 days on the ski patrol schedule when training is taking place. Candidates will be assigned to a section based on scheduling needs. Western Section - 14 night-time shifts or Eastern Section - 7 weekends/14 days (both Saturday and Sunday). Candidates can take advantage of training session on either weekends or weeknights.

Assignment Days

When the ski season starts (depending on when the mountain opens) the candidate training schedule on the weekends will be as follows:

8-8:30am - Arrive at the Bullpen, sign in, grab a radio (candidates must receive permission from the hill leader to carry a radio) and put on your gear.

8:30-9am - Shadow patrollers and perform opening duties such as checking sleds to make sure all equipment is ready to go for the day

9-11:15am - S&T Training - check with the hill leader for the day's location

11:15-1pm - Break/transition - do not be surprised if S&T cuts into this time.

Lunch (bring your own or lodge)

1-4pm - Patroller mentoring on Saturday; OEC on-the-hill scenario training on Sunday

4-5pm - End of day meeting, regular patrolling or Sweep

For those of you in the McHenry/Deep Creek Lake area, there will also be mid-week training on Tuesday (S&T) and Wednesday (OEC) nights from 6:30-8:30pm.