We will be posting updates from NSP offices about changes and adjustments that our staff and programs are making in response to the shifting situation around COVID-19.
UPDATED COVID-19 GUIDANCE FOR NSP REFRESHERS AND OTHER TRAINING AUGUST 2021
As the situation around COVID-19 evolves, and as we all approach the beginning of Refresher season, we know that many of our members have questions and concerns about fall Refreshers and other NSP training. These questions include possible requirements for vaccination or masking, and how to handle specific kinds of practical skills training where distancing is difficult.
First, while we are not imposing any national requirement (more on that below), we STRONGLY RECOMMEND that all of our members who do not have any mitigating medical circumstances get vaccinated against COVID-19. This is simply the best way we can all protect ourselves, our fellow patrollers, and those we serve. We also encourage use of masks by all participants, but especially by anyone who has not been vaccinated. Masking is particularly important when training is happening indoors, where distancing is not easily accomplished, and where some participants may not be fully vaccinated.
Stay up-to-date and comply with local guidance and requirements.
We do understand that circumstances and requirements vary widely around the country, and that guidance from agencies like the CDC has been shifting rapidly. Thus, we reiterate our guidance to be aware of and comply with state, local and tribal restrictions and guidelines around vaccinations and masking, as well as CDC guidance. We also encourage instructors and others organizing Refreshers and other courses to understand the requirements of any facilities where you are conducting your training, and to communicate those requirements clearly to all participants.
NSP training requirements are still in force.
With these considerations in mind, we do believe that practical skills training is still possible and desirable with appropriate preparation, precautions and hygiene. To stay effective as outdoor emergency care providers, we must practice these hands-on-skills regularly. The Cycle B Refresher is required to maintain your OEC credential, and the annual CPR demonstration of skills is required again this year. We do encourage instructors to use demonstration methods that take into consideration risks posed by having both vaccinated and unvaccinated technicians participating in training. In those circumstances, participants should maintain social distancing as much as possible. When demonstrating CPR skills, consider mouth to mask ventilation with appropriate filtration devices (not just one-way valves) and the use of proper bag-valve mask (BVM) devices. Use of mouth to manikin ventilation for demonstration purposes is not recommended. Cleaning between individuals and limiting two-rescuer demonstration to BVM ventilation is also recommended.
OEC Instructors, please click here to download further guidelines for setting up refreshers and trainings.
The abrupt end of the 2019/2020 snow season in March of 2020 generated shock and bewilderment across the industry and the world. Creativity, team work and resiliency of the ski and bike community paved the way for many successes in the 2020 summer bike season and the 2020/2021 snow season. NSP supported NSAA’s Ski Well Be Well effort which communicated the importance of safety measures to guests. Patrols and area management worked together to interpret and apply state, CDC and WHO guidelines throughout the season.
Many patrols found great success moving treatment areas for minor injuries outdoors and limiting access to the patrol room. Taking injured patients directly to their vehicles and completing paperwork on site provided efficiency and safety. Ski areas benefited from advanced ticket sales and the preparation that it allowed. The culture change to stay home if you are ill, along with incessant cleaning meant that many patrols found it to be one of their healthiest seasons ever. We learned many new ways to teach including Zoom and Teams.
For all the successes, many patrollers faced concerns of their own safety from the virus. There was none of the familiar comradery of morning meetings with shared coffee and breakfast or of the celebration at the end of a successful day over adult beverages. Many patrollers faced struggles at home as well as work with new mental health challenges arising. Patrol directors had more difficulty monitoring the wellness of their patrollers.
Patrols’ preparation with mandated mask use in gathering places, expanded spacing in lift lines, cleaning protocols and increased use of PPE was mostly accepted by the bike and ski community and offered some sense normal activity to many. December of 2020 brought us access to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine with an additional hope of returning to some sense of normal. The vaccines have proven protection from severe illness, hospitalization, death and transmission of the disease1. Vaccines have been received with great anticipation and excitement, many across the country remain fearful and suspicious. Across the country and around the globe there is divisiveness on many issues, including mask use and vaccines. Many are experiencing mask and civil mandate fatigue. However, as social restrictions relax, emergence of new waves and variants of the virus are on the rise.
Young people are getting COVID-19 at a higher rate than would be expected for the size of their group. While they do not have a high rate of death from SARS-CoV-2 infection, many risk permanent organ damage and other complications from exposure to the virus. Conversely, older age groups are actually being infected at a lower rate than would be expected from the size of their group. However the death rate for older individuals is truly astronomical, with over 50% of COVID-19-related deaths in the age group of 65-84 who only make up 14% of the population. The total number of cases and deaths has significantly improved over recent months, but we continue to see troubling regional increases and number of variants expanding.
The NSP medical committee strongly recommends all patrollers receive a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and encourage others in their community to follow suit. There is strong evidence to suggest protection from most variants with our current vaccines2. The risk of viral infection is 0.01% two weeks after the second vaccine dose. Fully vaccinated individuals are now allowed to gather together without a mask in small settings and no longer need to wear a mask in an outdoor setting3.
We also urge patrols and patrollers to be aware of and abide by local restrictions and guidelines.
Until this pandemic is brought under control, it is imperative that all safety measures of social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing be strictly followed! We must be vigilant with use and promotion of the vaccines to bring this pandemic to an end.
These documents contains multiple resources, including information about patroller wellness and safety, masks and PPE, and program-specific information. It was published in August 2020, but the information in it remains relevant as we approach the 2021 – 22 season.