By Peter Lavalley, Qu’Appelle Zone, Saskatchewan Division (


Patroller responses to the earlier article (5/5 Blog, May 5, 2019) confirmed that communicating with people with poor English language skills or cultural differences can hamper patrollers’ abilities to provide first aid. Cultural differences include, for example, situations where male patrollers are forbidden from touching female patients for religious reasons and patients who have a fear of people in uniform.

Patrollers noted certain options to assist communication:

  1. Enhanced non-verbal communication: “So with a lot of pointing, a lot of hand gestures and especially some smiles, I got through most of those situations without much trouble.”
    (Ian Izzard, Laurentian Zone, Que. & Gatineau Zone, Que.)
  2. CSP pocket report form: “…I used my CSP pocket report form so the casualty could indicate on the body drawing just where it hurt.” (Robi Roncarelli, Kawartha Zone, Ont.)
  3. Patrollers who speak additional languages: Ski areas with more patrollers can offer first aid in different languages. “The best way to deal with cultural competency and language barriers is to recruit for diverse language speakers and cultures.” and “CSP members who go to events and participate in new Canadian experiences tend to be better able to adapt to emergencies with people of diverse cultures.” (Chris Paci, Superior Zone, Ont.)
  4. Electronic translators, apps and services: A variety of electronic supports are available.
  5. First Aid communication board:various-sized boards illustrating body parts, with a keyboard and a pain scale. First aid communication boards are inexpensive, easy-to-use tools that transcend language barriers because the exchange is non-verbal and visual.
    Interested in obtaining a first aid communication board and learning how to use it?
    Contact Kelly-Anne Rover, a long-term patroller in the Central Zone, Ontario at
    First In – Visually Speaking. Website: (+ 1-905-252-7890).

All of these options can help ski patrollers communicate more effectively. What works best may be a matter of individual preference.

Is it time to spend more time training ski patrollers how to communicate more effectively with persons from different ethnic/religious cultures? What about those with poor language skills, whether they are immigrants or people with conditions/disabilities that affect how they speak and process information? Is it time to come up with “…a set of strategies to help patrollers though these difficult situations?” (Ian Izzard)

Sample first aid communication board.

Communicating with skiers and snowboarders with poor English language skills: What helps?

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