By Alan Sorensen
The 1998-99 Eagle Creek Ski Patrol captured the two most prestigious awards best patrol and best patroller at the National Ski Patrol Northern Division convention in Helena Sept. 17-19.
The ski patrol team from the Bear Paw Ski Hill on the Chippewa Cree Recreation Area just 39 miles south of Havre was selected the Outstanding Division Patrol from among 40 National Ski Patrol teams in the division.
Copping the top individual award was Havre ski patroller Herman Handstede. Handstede was selected from among a thousand or so patrollers to share the Distinguished Service Award for Patrollers with another ski patroller.
Its just unbelievable; its incredible, said Judy Handstede, who attended the convention as proxy for Eagle Creek Patrol director Jon Stoner. I have always believed we are a great bunch, but recognition from the division and national its just hard to believe.
I am so proud of the patrol and of my husband.
The Northern Division awards are presented annually to the top ski patrol groups and individuals in the five-state area that includes Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and parts of Idaho.
The Handstedes also taught an emergency care refresher course and completed other division duties during the convention before accepting the awards at the Saturday night banquet.
The Outstanding Patrol award includes a plaque and a traveling toboggan. The coveted toboggan bears the slogan Outstanding Northern Patrol on the sides and comes fully equipped with a trauma pack. The toboggan will remain with the Eagle Creek Patrol for one year.
Active members of the winning Eagle Creek team are: Stoner and the Handstedes, Scott Thackeray, Bob Burtchett, Jim Dolph, Jen Henderson, Noel Henderson, Dave Martens, Jesse Martens, Kris Martens, Byron Ophus, Mike Ritz, Claire Stoner, and Ron Watson.
Eagle Creeks nomination was approved by the regional director and section chief before going to the awards committee for review and selection.
Eagle Creek reportedly scored well in several areas. Its teamwork was a strong asset, as were the advanced and refresher training its instructors took in first aid and ski/toboggan skills.
Eagle Creek also was recognized for its several patrollers who faithfully completed a strenuous first-aid class equivalent to EMT status and attended numerous refreshers. The Bear Paw patrollers also took classes to upgrade their ski skills in mountaineering, avalanche, and extreme rescue fields.
Their preparedness to help at the ski hill and at the request of other community agencies was also an asset.
Many local first aiders attend our classes for continuing education , Judy Handstede said.
Patrollers also must take professional CPR training each year and know and follow the national rules and regulations. They must also abide by the directions of hill management.
Being able to draw up functional emergency disaster plans, biohazardous waste and exposure guidelines for the ski hill and patrollers are only part of the patrol, she said.