By Dan Cameron, Qu’Appelle Zone (drc.assoc@sasktel.net)

Editor’s note: The following opinion article reflects the views of the author. The Canadian Ski Patrol has not made any decisions with respect to the potential licensing of a third-party first-aid program. We are at the start of a process to look at different options for sustainability. We will be conducting a thorough analysis of these different options, including maintaining the status quo. We will share more information on this topic as the process moves along.

The CSP struggles to maintain its national first aid protocol practices reflected in our manual, but barely mentioned is developing learning methodologies making best use of current technology. Including promoting our brand, these three components are the fundamental responsibilities of our national office.

The CSP is part of the Canadian Guidelines Consensus Task Force with St. John Ambulance, Canadian Red Cross, Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Life Saving Society. Its role is to reach consensus on best first aid protocols based on current medical knowledge. We are exploring the potential of contracting the use of a third party’s first aid training program, among other possible approaches for future sustainability.

Membership in the task force is doubtful if we have adopted the program of another of its members. Certifying members to deliver the program and “leasing” it will cost time and money. Future use costs are uncertain but the longer we are invested, the less our bargaining power in negotiating the terms of use: price, content, etc., and our national recognition as a first aid training organization would diminish. Investments in time and effort developing our present first aid manual would be lost and difficult to resurrect at a later date.

I believe the CSP initiative to contract the use of a third party first aid program should paused. To me at least, to adopt a third party’s program is an admission of failure, based on an absence of strategic vision, isolationism and thinking small.

If we don’t contract the program of another agency we continue our in-house program. Each task force member maintains its first aid programs with professional staff. Our volunteer model is no longer an option. We need to employ full time professional staff with the following responsibilities:

  • Maintain CSP’s role in the Canadian Guidelines Consensus Task Force.
  • Incorporate nationally agreed protocols into our training manual.
  • Develop internet-based syllabuses and distant learning pedagogies into our training program.

Training program delivery would change significantly. ‘Net based-instruction would enable anywhere, anytime individual learning with the capacity to obtain clarification online as required, and reflecting current distance learning practices. Local learning would shift to application and practice.

Currently the CSP does not have the financial resources to employ the appropriate professional staff. The question becomes, how can the necessary and sustainable funding be obtained?

Fundraising is difficult at the national level. Potential donors, on examination, would find the CSP adequately funded. However, these financial resources are at the edge, not the centre. Previous fundraising efforts to support national operations did not provide predictable and sustained revenue inflows.

Assuming we decide to maintain our own program, what options exist to financially support such a professionally delivered program in a sustainable way?

  • Members take a nationally developed training program; members should “pay for their course and exam” initially and on recertification with the fee set by national which would receive all resulting revenue providing more predictable funding.
  • Use of the CSP brand at events, clothing etc., be subject to a fee set by national or alternately, the sale of all logoed merchandise be reserved to national.
  • Solicit financial support from industry partners by demonstrating our benefit to them
  • Seek financial support from a private organization for development of a national ‘net-based first aid education program on the proviso that its employees would have access to the program for specific period of years.
  • Market our manual and online education program to the public. Financial incentives should be in place to prompt professional staff to achieve self-sustaining revenue generation.
  • An increase in members’ fees should be considered only as a very last resort.

Surely there are other options as well.

If we can agree on the strategic vision, achieving it should be the easy part; solidarity on the need is essential and there are risks in not doing so. Failure to maintain the CSP’s high standards in first aid protocols will see less industry acceptance. Adoption of a third party’s program results in loss of control of the skills we put on snow. The national office’s program delivery capacity will shrink into insignificance, little more than brand promotion. Can the periphery survive if the centre fails?

Has our weakness been a failure to think big, or perhaps the even bigger sin of deliberately thinking small?

Time to think big