By Guy Bergeron, Mario Duchesne, Corine Labelle, and Mathieu Prud’Homme, Laurentian Zone; sponsored by Jean-Marie Philippe
The skiing and patrolling season is under way again, but the past two years have been different for us because we are privileged to be working on a special pilot project integrating paraplegic patrollers at Ski Chantecler in Laurentian Zone (see the October 2012 issue of 5/5).
Guy Bergeron, a patroller from 1992 to 2001 and ski instructor from 2001 to 2007, has risen to the challenge of the project with great enthusiasm. After becoming a paraplegic following a motorcycle accident in the summer of 2007, Guy returned to snow-sliding sports in 2008. He can now negotiate ski hills on his own using adaptive skiing techniques.
Guy has completed his first aid training with a smaller team, in order to adapt our practices to his physical abilities, while addressing his limitations in order to provide a high level of quality and service to the general public. The team is also working at adapting on hill procedures with the help of Aline Préfontaine, involved for many years with the John Horvath adaptive ski program at Mont-Habitant. Once Guy has mastered all the required skills, he will again be able to proudly wear his patroller jacket.
With such a program, the CSP regains an experienced patroller while implementing a unifying project with excellent visibility for the organization. Nonetheless, the project faces a number of risks that must be addressed. We must avoid a possible negative perception by the public of the quality of service offered by Guy. In order to address this, the team works at ensuring Guy meets all CSP standards adapted to his limitations. As well, various means of communication are used to inform the general public.
For this season, Guy is always paired with a qualified patroller, the goal being for Guy to eventually be able to provide patroller services on his own. When present at a ski hill, Guy and his partner are always in addition to the scheduled roster.
We are working with three tremendous organizations that have demonstrated their support for this project. The CSP is involved at all levels, starting with Hugh Thomassin during his second year as the Quebec Division President, and now with Jean-Marie Philippe, the current president, both of whom have provided guidance in setting up the pilot project.
M. Benoît Labelle, general manager at Ski Chantecler, and his team have been involved in facilitating access to the chalet as well as their welcome at the hill. The Lise Thibault Foundation, represented by Lise Thibault herself, provides the adaptive skiing and evacuation equipment. Mrs. Thibault was an honorary member of the ski patrol in the past, while Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Quebec. The core team is composed of Guy Bergeron, Mario Duchesne (Ski Chantecler patrol leader), Corinne Labelle (Quebec Division VP of education), and Mathieu Prud’Homme.
Many more patrollers and volunteers are involved; their contribution is essential and is greatly appreciated. The goal of the pilot project is to lead to the effective integration of paraplegic skiers into the CSP. We will publish an end of project report in order to share our experience.