Breckenridge Ski Resort is looking for 150 volunteers to participate in its annual gondola evacuation training on Saturday, Sept. 28. The exercise is being promoted as an education opportunity for the public on the ski patrol’s safety response techniques in the event of an evacuation .  Probably the greater benefit is for the ski patrollers who gain additional training and experience through the exercise. 

In order to make the training exercise realistic, the resort is asking community members to volunteer to be “rescued” from the gondolas.  The training event has been held for four years and is considered invaluable experience to the rescue team.

Participants will meet at the base of the gondola at 9 a.m. where they will be briefed by the ski patrol about what to expect during the exercise. Then, they will climb into the gondolas.  Instead of arriving at the mountain base, the gondola will stop, and volunteers will literally be left hanging.

A coordinator with an evacuation manual will oversee the project, assigning members of the ski patrol’s evacuation team to carry out rescue operations at different sections of the gondola.  Ski patrollers will use a tool to pry open the gondola to reach occupants, and secure them into harnesses.  Then the volunteers will be lowered by ropes to the ground. 

The evacuation exercise is expected to conclude around noon. Ski patrol will hold an optional open discussion to get feedback from volunteers. A barbecue lunch will also follow the training. To participate, contact Duke Barlow, or (970) 453-5000 by Thursday, Sept. 26.

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