About Us

The Ben Lomond Ski Patrol was started prior to the 1962 ski season and was known as the Red Cross Ski Patrol. The founding members, Irving Fong, Tony Stonjek and John Tilley formed the first Committee in 1962. The Ski Patrol is now an essential part of the Ben Lomond Ski scene.

The main challenges of the Patrol since its inception have been:

Ben Lomond is approximately 1 hours drive from Launceston and the nearest Medical Centre, the Launceston General Hospital (LGH). Consequently the Patrol is confronted with rescue or evacuation of patients to the Patrol HQ and administering first aid at this location knowing that they will not arrive at the Medical centre for at least two hours.

The first Patrol HQ was an old tin shed located between the existing HQ and the bottom of 30 second tow. One end of the shed was the Ski Hire and the other end was the Public Shelter and Ski Patrol HQ.

Communication was a big issue in the early days with the nearest telephone being at Deddington, over half an hour away. In the early 70's Irving Fong managed to acquire an old ambulance two-way valve radio and this was able to talk directly to the Ambulance communications for serious accidents. In the late 70's to early 80's the first radio telephone was installed at the Rangers Hut at the bottom of Jacob's Ladder and at Ski Rentals. This greatly assisted the Patrol in emergency situations. Patrollers have used handheld two-way radios since the early 80's with only two or three patrollers having radios. Over the years this has been increased to a radio for up to six patrollers plus a base station. All radios are equipped with channels to communicate with other commercial organisations on the mountain.

One of the main assets of the patrol was that there were a number of Doctors (either members of the Patrol or skiers on the mountain) who could be called on in an emergency, where pain relief was required or in the event of severe injury. (These injuries included head, spinal, fractures with potential of severe blood loss, and internal injuries). The qualification for Patrollers up until 1986 was the St John First Aid, and a short ski test by the Captain of the Patrol. When it came to more serious injuries anything more than basic first aid was all we could offer unless a Doctor was available.

In 1986 the first Australian Ski Patrol Association (known as ASPA) First Aid training and accreditation was given to the members at Ben Lomond. ASPA First Aid is a First Aid standard recognised at all Ski areas throughout Australia and Internationally. The standard of First Aid provided by ASPA has better equipped our Patrollers to manage severe casualties and administer pain relief, as required. In order to become a Ski Patroller today, you must first have a recognised First Aid qualification before sitting the ASPA course. On completing the ASPA course and patrolling as a Trainee for approximately two years, once meeting the training requirements and recording in their trainee log book, the Ski Patrol may then accept the person as an active patroller.

This is to ensure that the new member is familiar with the mountain, the Ski Patrol teamwork and that their on snow skills are acceptable.

Since the early 70's the Patrol has owned two Akja's(rescue sleds) which BP Australia donated, and in the early 80's a third Akja was donated to the Patrol by Ski Rentals. With the introduction of additional Ski Tows in the late 70's the area which required patrolling had necessitated one to cover each side of the mountain plus a third one to replace either of the other two should they be required to carry a patient. It was not uncommon for patients depending on their injury to stay in the Akja until they reached the Hospital.

In the early 70's the National Parks built the present Ski Patrol HQ. The Western end or half was used as Ski Patrol HQ, and the Eastern end was the Public Shelter. It was in the early 90's that the Patrol acquired use of the whole of the Building providing separate room for Patroller accommodation with one room at the south east end being for the Mountain Management.

The Ski Patrol uniform up to the late 70's was a red bib which had a white cross on the front and back with the words Ben Lomod Ski Patrol around it, also in white. This was tied on top of the ski parka. In about 1978 the Patrol members and the Patrol contributed 50/50 towards a red (Merit type) ski jacket with a large white cross stitched on the front and back. Each jacket cost about $100 each. Some Patrollers used the jacket inside out when they were not on duty. 

These jackets were an important and good identification for the patrol members on the mountain. The Red Jackets were used for about 10 years and in about 1987 at the same time as we became APSA patrollers we changed uniform to the blue jackets and yellow identification badges. Last year we changed uniforms to fall in line with other Patrols around Australia with Red and Black and with whit crosses.

The funding of the Patrol until the early 90's was entirely by sponsorship and fundraising exercises carried out by the Patrol members. These included Raffles, Ski Fashion Parades, Dances and Film nights. 

On the introduction of the Mid-Week patroller in the late 80's to early 90's the National Parks financed this person and then subsequently it is subsidised by the Mountain Management. Since the early 90's and introduction of the Mountain Management and the Road Toll, the Mountain Management has reimbursed the Patrol's expenses. Since the disbanding of the mountain management, the funding has been provided once again by the Government through the Parks and Wildlife Service.

This funding has freed up much of the patrollers time to concentrate on key activities of the Patrol.

In 1992 Irving Fong obtained sponsorship from General Motors in Launceston to finance the purchase of an 'Arctic Cat' over snow transport and use of a 4WD Holden Jackaroo for the Patrol to use for 5 years as transport to the mountain.

Since its involvement with ASPA in 1986 The Ben Lomond Ski Patrol has had a much closer relationship with the Mt Mawson Ski Patrol in the south. This has involved assisting each other with training and equipment. In 2002 a sub Committee was elected by the National ASPA executive to incorporate members of the two patrols (ie 2 from Mawson and 2 from Ben Lomond, plus a fifth who will be the Vice President for Tasmania) in order to better contribute Tasmania's requirements to the ASPA National executive.

Prior to the season we attend training and re-certification days with all patrollers. It is important for us to be involved and assist each other with training as it provides a chance to refresh and improve our ability to work as a cohesive team, patrollers are able to better their skills and it is a good opportunity for the fellowship and learning shared between Patrollers.

The upkeep of the Patrol HQ is carried out by the members with some financial support coming from National Parks who actually own the building. Working bees usually consist of minor repairs and maintenance of the HQ building and checking of equipment, consumables and radios in preparation for the season.

During the ski season the patrol provides 10 weeks of mid-week patrol and 10 weekends of volunteer service. In some seasons this 10 week season has been extended.

In an average 10 week season the patrol provides between 4-6 patrollers each day for weekend volunteer service, equating to approximately 1000 hrs of volunteer service. Outside of this, our volunteers attend training days and our committee spends many hours planning the season ahead. This planning usually starts as soon as the previous season ends.

This additional training and planning would bring the hours of volunteer service to well over 2000hrs in a year.

We would like to acknowledge the support received from our various supporters:

The Committee

Ben Lomond Ski Patrol Honour Roll