Patrollers from 13 or more countries are gathering at Big White resort in British Columbia, Canada from 29 March to 5 April 2014. This will be the 19th Congress or meeting of the Fédération Internationale des Patrouilles de Ski (FIPS) member patrollers.
FIPS members gather biannually in member countries forming an international network of ski patrollers with the intent to discuss and disseminate information on new ski rescue techniques, avalanche rescue, medical management of ski injuries, search and rescue, legal issues, ski safety, alpine risk management and accident prevention, both on and off the snow.
On 29 March 1979, patrollers from Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand were hosted by the Canadians in Calgary to form FIPS, initiating the first FIPS Congress.
Canadian Mark Labow was the founding president of FIPS in 1979 and served as president until 2003. In 2004 Canadian Bruce Lochhead was elected president and remains in that position today. The Canadians have been the champions and leaders of FIPS since it’s formation. France has hosted the FIPS Congress for 5 years including the 2012 FIPS. Australia has hosted FIPS on three occasions, while Canada, the United States and Sweden have been host for two FIPS events. Japan, Chile, Korea and Scotland have also been FIPS host countries.
In 1979 the United States was represented by Gary Bunce, a NSP First Aid advisor and Dr. Warren Bowman, NSP’s National Medical Advisor (beginning in 1970) and author of NSP’s Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) first edition text and curriculum. After this first FIPS Congress, NSP national maintained FIPS membership until approximately 2001. When the NSP allowed its membership to lapse, four NSP divisions (Rocky Mountain, Eastern, Pacific Northwest and Intermountain) registered their membership with FIPS to maintain an NSP connection with the international patrol community, which was especially important since NSP was the worlds largest rescue organization and significantly larger than the largest FIPS member, Canada.
After significant NSP organizational litigation and discourse in 2005 and 2006, and upon the insistence of NSP membership, NSP rejoined FIPS in 2007. NSP’s Rocky Mountain Division represented the United States and hosted the 2007 FIPS congress at Snowbird, Utah, which had over 130 attendees from nine countries.
NSP executive director Tim White, represented the NSP at FIPS events in Sweden and France in 2009 and 2012, respectively. NSP national is only a participant in FIPS Congress sessions and elects to put its energy into the NSP on snow conference, Patroller Educational Conference (PEC), which is held on alternate years with FIPS.
The current FIPS member countries and associated organizations are the Australian Ski Patrol Association (ASPA); the Canadian Ski Patrol (CSP); the Chile Ski Patrol; Ski Finland (Ski.fi); France’s Association Nationale de Pisteurs Secouristes (ANPS); the British Association of Ski Patrollers (BASP); Italy’s Federazione Italiana Sicurezza Piste Sci (FISPS) and Gruppo Italiano Ski Patrollers (GISP); the Ski Association of Japan (SAJ); New Zealand’s Tai Poutini Polytechnic Ski Patrol (TPP); Norway’s Alpine Association (ALF); the Swedish Lift Areas Organization (SLAO); the US National Ski Patrol (NSP); and Switzerland’s Seilbahnen Schweiz (SBS).
Registration for FIPS 2014 in British Columbia is still open on the date of this writing. If you like to ski and meet new patroller colleagues, enjoy international cultures, and would like to expand your patrolling knowledge, consider FIPS in 2014 or in future years.
Patrollers can register for the Big White event via this link.
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