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Flathead Nordic Ski Patrol Wins National Recognition

Flathead Nordic Ski Patrol (FNSP), a local backcountry search and rescue organization, was awarded as the Outstanding Ski Patrol for the 2009/2010 season. The award is presented each year to the outstanding nordic ski patrol amongst all National Ski Patrol (NSP)-affiliated ski patrols in the country.

FNSP was awarded the highly-distinguished recognition based on a variety of components including public service, education, training,  past awards received, and activity of members on the local, division and/or regional level. Specifically, FSNP was recognized for their service to the Flathead Valley for responding to responding to winter backcountry callouts related to complex terrain search and/or avalanche rescue. Many of their search and rescue operations take place during the night, in inclement weather and/or during periods of elevated avalanche danger.  To meet this responsibility and challenge, patrol members need to be tight knit, well trained, and fully dedicated to being available for unscheduled call outs, usually late in the evening. Bottom line, FNSP is on call 24/7 from December through April of each year.

In the past four seasons, FNSP has been subjected to and involved with multiple complex and dangerous backcountry search and rescue operations as well as avalanche-related recoveries. In 2008, FNSP played a key role a multiple-fatality avalanche incident just out of bounds of the Whitefish Mountain Resort as well as a high-alpine technical mountain search and rescue operation in which the victim was never found.  Both of these incidents lasted for multiple days, were under the direction of Federal and County agencies, and involved logistically complex situations. FNSP patrollers were there to assist as needed, committed days of volunteer dedication to each incident, and put forth efforts above and beyond the comforts of home and the call of paid employment. 

To improve efficiency, effectiveness, and safety in responding to winter emergency callouts FNSP has been dedicated to establishing well fortified remote and centrally-located rescue caches that are available for immediate rescue situations. These rescue caches have been established in key Flathead County locations where gear can be accessed quickly during remote wintertime emergencies. As of this past season, FNSP patrol as established three well-stocked and updated caches ready for utilization in the county on an as-needed basis.  Establishing these rescue caches has been a team effort and has required extensive volunteer hours to improve the chances of a successful search and rescue operation.  This past season FNSP received another grant and established a remote rescue cache located at Whitefish Mountain Resort where sidecountry skiing is very popular and human-related avalanche incidents are on the rise.

The generosity FNSP has received locally  has been payed forward to NSP in the form of hosting a very well received and successful NSP Senior exam in spring 2010. Which offers patrollers an opportunity to demonstrate their skills on a high-level in a variety of components.

NSP awards are designed to recognize and reward patrollers for outstanding service. FSNP was also awarded The Gold Unit Citation award, presented by NSP's national Chair to any NSP patrol that has performed in any outstanding manner. Additionally, FNSP member Alice Ford was awarded "Outstanding Senior Candidate 2009/2010" by NSP for performance during the Senior Exam.

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FNSP is a non-profit group of volunteer men and women trained and prepared to respond to any type of winter backcountry emergency. The Patrol's area of responsibility is primarily Flathead County, although the patrol will respond anywhere in NW Montana, or if circumstances indicate, the patrol will respond anywhere their services may be helpful. For more information on FNSP, visit  www.flatheadnordic.org.
For more information, contact:
Dena Rissman - Media
nordic-communications@flatheadnordic.org
906-644-2722

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