Members of the Fernie Ski Patrol embarked on their annual Avalanche Awareness Campaign this week, educating over 1,200 students spanning Grades 1-12 about the importance of avalanche safety in the backcountry.
The Fernie Ski Patrol delivers programs to Elk Valley students tailored to specific age groups, focusing on concepts such as avalanche hazards and how to avoid them; backcountry and snowmobiling safety; and the importance of adhering to hazards and closures when visiting ski areas. Each session was between 45 minutes to 1 hour in length, teaching messages as simple as “always ski with a buddy” to knowing what to do in case of an emergency.
Learning about Avalanche Safety is of key importance to Elk Valley youth. Says Steve Ruskay, Avalanche Program Educator and Member of the Fernie Alpine Resort Ski Patrol, “These students are lucky enough to live in an area that gets a great deal of snow every winter, and they will likely be involved in recreational and backcountry activity at some point in their lives. We feel it is important to educate kids from a young age so that we can spark an interest in safety, and they become more aware about resources available to learn more about traveling safely in the backcountry.”
Fernie Alpine Resort’s Patrol Team has been delivering this program for close to 10 years, and the resort takes an active role in safety. Last year, Fernie Alpine Resort provided a $12,000 cash donation to the Canadian Avalanche Foundation. The ski resort is also a strong participant in the annual nation-wide Avalanche Awareness Days program and is a venue for Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association training. The Fernie Ski Patrol is highly trained in mountain safety and education, and make guest safety a top priority at the ski resort known for its Legendary Powder.
Throughout the winter season, the Fernie Ski Patrol also offers a series of lectures available to student and non-student groups visiting the ski resort. Sessions are two hours long, and cover topics such as avalanche danger, weather study plots, use of avalanche rescue equipment, basic search techniques, and the CARDA rescue dog program. For more information about these programs, please contact Fernie Alpine Resort at (250) 423-4655.