Search and rescue: Notchview Junior Ski Patrol teaches kids self-reliance

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  • Notchview Junior Ski Patrol tri-captain Nathan Farrington, 12, of Cummington guides new member Carlea Manley, 10, of Worthington in the use of a two-way radio during week four of the program on Sunday. Ski Patrol Assistant Director Bob Payne, left, was on hand for the group's radio training.

  • Notchview Ski Patrol Director Mary Ann Richardson, left, chats with Junior Ski Patrol program students Carlea Manley, foreground, 10, and Claire Anderson, 12, of Connecticut as they are secured in a rescue toboggan by Payne.

  • Thomas Connors, center, 10, of Windsor, practices bandaging a pretend head wound for Claire Anderson, 12, of Connecticut, during week two of the Junior Ski Patrol program at Notchview in Windsor.

  • Lukas Manley, left, 6, of Worthington practices putting a splint on the arm of his sister, Carlea, 10, during week two of the Junior Ski Patrol program at Notchview on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • At left, Anna Burns, 12, of Amherst gets a steadying hand from Assistant Patrol Director Bob Payne, left, as she practices a leg splint on her brother, Ian, 9.

  • Lukas Manley, right, 6, of Worthington practices putting a splint on the leg of his sister, Carlea, 10.

  • The Notchview Junior Ski Patrol crew heads out on the trails for a radio training during week four of the program.

  • Ian Burns, 9, of Amherst, playing the part of a patient, listens to Notchview Ski Patrol Director Mary Ann Richardson as she demonstrates how to splint his arm on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Lukas Manley, left, 6, of Worthington with an assist from Michael Kaplan, a family physician from Lenox, practices putting a splint on the arm of his sister, Carlea, 10, during week two of the Junior Ski Patrol program.

  • Notchview Assistant Ski Patrol Director Bob Payne pulls Junior Ski Patrol program students Nathan Farrington, center, 12, of Cummington and Anna Burns, 12, of Amherst on a practice rescue toboggan run during week two of the program at Notchview on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Lukas Manley, left, 6, of Worthington, playing the part of rescuer, asks some evaluating questions of Thomas Connors, 10, of Windsor, as the patient, during a practice run in a rescue toboggan pulled by Notchview Assistant Ski Patrol Director Bob Payne on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Lukas Manley, left, 6, of Worthington and the other Junior Ski Patrollers make their way on the trails at Notchview for a radio training during week four of the program in Windsor on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Anna Burns, 12, of Amherst and eight fellow Junior Ski Patrollers head out on the trails for a radio training in week four of the program at Notchview in Windsor on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Lukas Manley, left, 6, of Worthington, playing the part of rescuer, asks some evaluating questions of his “patient”, Thomas Connors, 10, of Windsor, during a practice run in a rescue toboggan pulled by Payne.

  • Ian Burns, 9, of Amherst makes a call to base during a session of radio training in the Junior Ski Patrol program at Notchview. Behind him are tri-captains Vienna Mahar, left, 12, of Savoy and Claire Anderson, 12, of Connecticut.

  • After an hour and a half Junior Ski Patrol lesson, Patrol Director Mary Ann Richardson, left, chats with Stephen Burns, right, of Amherst and his children Anna, 12, and Ian, 9, having hot chocolate in the Notchview lodge.

  • Notchview Ski Patrol Director Mary Ann Richardson, center, Assistant Director Bob Payne, left, and Junior Ski Patrol tri-captain Vienna Mahar, 12, of Savoy help themselves to hot chocolate in the lodge at the end of a lesson on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in Windsor. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Sister and brother Anna and Ian Burns, 12 and 9, of Amherst take turns bandaging an imaginary head injury during the second week of the eight week Junior Ski Patrol program at Notchview in Windsor on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. Thomas Connors, lower right, 10, of Windsor looks over a bandage while his father, John Connors, seated by window, has his head bandaged by Ski Patrol Director Mary Ann Richardson and Nathan Farrington, 12, of Cummington. Behind Richardson is her son, Greg Richardson, of Goshen who is a member of the Notchview Ski Patrol. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Notchview Ski Patrol Assistant Director Bob Payne, left, and Director Mary Ann Richardson bundle up two members of the Junior Ski Patrol for a short ride in the rescue toboggan during the second week of the program in Windsor on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. In foreground, playing the part of patient is Anna Burns, 12, of Amherst, and behind her is Nathan Farrington, 12, of Cummington. Behind them are, from left, Thomas Connors, 10, and his father, John Connors, of Windsor, Ian Burns, 9, of Amherst, Claire Anderson, 12, of Connecticut, Carlea and Lukas Manley, 10 and 6, of Worthington and Richardson's son, Greg Richardson of Goshen. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ian Burns, right, 9, and his sister Anna Burns, 12, of Amherst and Daniel Tetreault, left, of Shelburne climb a hill at Notchview in Windsor during a day of radio training in the Junior Ski Patrol program on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Notchview Ski Patrol Center as seen from the dining area of the lodge on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Notchview Junior Ski Patrol crew heads out on the trails for a radio training during week four of the program on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Notchview Ski Patrol Director Mary Ann Richardson, left, demonstrates a splint on the arm of Ian Burns during week two of the Junior Ski Patrol program at Notchview in Windsor on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Notchview Junior Ski Patrol crew heads out on the trails for a radio training during week four of the program on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 1/29/2019 11:26:23 PM

Sitting on the carpet in the cozy front room of the Notchview Reservation ski lodge, Carlea Manley, 10, repeats the question everyone around her is asking. “Can you show me with one finger where it hurts?”

With that one tried-and-true inquiry, she begins to evaluate the signs and symptoms shown by her “patient” — her 6-year-old brother, Lukas. The Worthington siblings are among nine kids, ranging from 6 to 15, learning basic first-responder skills in the Junior Ski Patrol program at the popular 3,000-acre venue for Nordic skiing. Each Sunday in January and February, the group gathers for an hour and a half to develop skills including CPR, first aid and radio communication.

Patrol Director Mary Ann Richards, who has been shepherding the program for about 10 years says there’s another underlying benefit to the kids. When they practice the very things required of an adult first responder, like interviewing, problem-solving and hands-on treatment, they develop self-reliance. “If you came back in eight weeks, you would see a completely different group of kids,” she says, “because that’s one of the things we really put into them — good leadership skills. And these are lifetime skills.”

In this second week of the course, the group divides up into pairs to practice evaluating their “patients” and to make splints for different kinds injuries on the spot, just as they might out on the trails. Richardson takes note of Carlea and Lukas having fun while working together; they are one of two brother-sister pairs in this year’s program. “When do you see this much camaraderie in siblings?” she asks rhetorically.

As Lukas takes his turn folding and knotting a cravat into a splint for his big sister, his father, Jeff Manley, says with some amusement: “This will be interesting, he’s still working on shoelaces.” Manley says that Carlea and Lukas are both interested in professions “that help people or animals.” Carlea wants to be a veterinarian, Lukas a police officer or firefighter. Lukas eventually finishes his task with encouragement and a helping hand from volunteer Michael Kaplan, a family physician from Lenox whose calm, deep voice guides Lukas through the steps.

After practicing splints in the warmth of the lodge, all head out toward the Ski Patrol Center where Assistant Director Bob Payne is hitching a snowmobile to a rescue toboggan — basically a sled that will accommodate two people lying down. The group splits up into pairs once again, one playing the injured patient, one playing the rescuer. The rescuer sits down first so that the patient will effectively be cradled and insulated from the hard shell of the sled. Payne binds up the soft vinyl sides around them like a cocoon then drives them toward the treeline in a slow loop. 

It’s just enough time for the rescuer to interview the patient with a series of questions known by the acronym “SAMPLE.”  Richardson tells them that this is just the first of an “alphabet soup” of acronyms they’ll learn to help them remember how to do their jobs as first responders. “S” is for signs and symptoms, “A” is for allergies, “M” for medication, “P” for past pertinent history, “L” for last oral intake (food or drink) and “E” for the events leading up to the injury.

Though the program is nominally geared to 10- to 14-year-olds, Richardson accepts the occasional younger but committed sibling. She asks all of the patrollers at the start: “What do you want to learn?” This year, she has three captains, all 12 and all with at least two prior years with the program. Claire Anderson has been making the trek from her northeastern Connecticut home since she was 1 ½. Vienna Mahar and Nathan Farrington hail from the adjoining towns of Savoy and Cummington, respectively. The trio’s job is to make sure everyone in their group understands the work, can do the tasks and is having fun.

At last Sunday’s session, the three gathered their group inside the Ski Patrol Center to review the do’s and don’ts of radio communication. Just as the winds calm and the snow begins to fall, they lead the group onto a portion of the 9 kilometers of groomed trails at the reservation, while Richardson stays back to monitor the radio base.

As the group stops for the occasional trail intersection or gains a hilltop and rests, the captains encourage each of the younger students to imagine an injured skier and radio in the details to Richardson, always in clear and concise language. After each has taken a turn, the cadre completes the circuit back to the Patrol Center in about 45 minutes. They all discuss what went right and what could be improved from both their perspectives — out in the field and back at base — and conclude that the culprit for some of the garbled transmissions was likely speaking into the microphone too closely. 

Now that the session is over, the kids put their radios back in their chargers. Finally, from Richardson, come the words that all welcome: “Who wants hot chocolate?”

Kevin Gutting can be reached at kgutting@gazettenet.com.


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