I just lived through COVID-19 in the Ski Patrol in Australia. Yes, it was odd, and at first a mighty hill to climb, but it’s possible to do and we’ll likely keep a bunch of the new things we have done in our standard protocols.
To start with things changed on a daily basis, no – an hourly basis! The government and legislation was constantly shifting, and we had no idea if we were to even open. Other area’s of Australia were in complete shut down with no one on the streets. In our regional area, caution was applied in large handfuls and we kept our distance, waiting to see what would occur. Management met often and announcements were thin on the ground – so it was an uncertain time.
Two approaches came to the fore in New South Wales – Thredbo refunded season pass holders and sold day tickets with some incentives for those ex-pass holders. This allowed for careful management of numbers on hill, and maintaining a level of quality for the guests. Perisher (with it’s larger skiable area) limited numbers for the early season, then opened up more flexibility as it went on, but added requirements for face coverings as soon as you left your car.
In Victoria, things were not as good, and government restrictions prevented the resorts from opening for more than a couple of days. New Zealand faired much better with the pandemic under control at a national level very quickly.
In Ski Patrol, COVID-19 presented challenges with patient care, bump huts and patrol bases needed to be reconfigured, and medical centres moved, changed and upgraded. Sourcing Personal Protective Equipment presented challenges, and then deciding how to deal with patients as first responders required scenarios, training and a lot of experiential learning.
Aussies were lucky to be on snow at all in 2020, and I consider myself to be one of the very lucky few included in that number. I hope the ‘Dealing with COVID-19 in the Ski Patrol Context’ provides some insight and guidance for those of you entering this uncertain world.
I hope it helps you run a successful season that benefits you and your hill, and your local economy.