By Nick Cartwright (LM No. 25), Gatineau Zone VP Special Events (

Gatineau Zone’s current program has been built up over the last 10 to 15 years. We now average about 100 events per year with just under half of those at TD Place (in Lansdowne Park) in Ottawa, including regular CFL Football, CEBL Basketball, Atletico soccer matches, concerts and other one-off events such as Volleyball Nation’s League, Curling World Championships, the Canadian Woman’s Soccer vs New Zealand, and the Pacific Four series Women’s Rugby, etc. In 2017 the zone was heavily involved in a number of the unique anniversary events in the city such as the Grey Cup game, the NHL Outdoor Hockey game, the Red Bull Crashed Ice and the La Machine (a four-day battle between two huge robotic creatures viewed by more than 750,000 spectators).

About 200 of our 320 patrollers cumulatively volunteer between 8,000 and 9,000 hours per year and the program generates around $80,000 to $100,000 of revenue for the zone – roughly half our budget. The zone has in place a comprehensive program that allows patrollers to earn credits toward their annual registration fee by, for example, completing their required area patrolling commitment, by exceeding their instructor teaching commitments and by taking on 365 event shifts. The income ends up being split roughly in thirds with one third returning to individual patrollers in the form of credits to be used toward their membership fees, one third being used by the zone and one third being returned to the area patrols based on the contribution of their patrollers to the staffing of the events.

Other than financial, the benefits to the zone have been significant. We have developed a very close collaborative relationship with our local EMS and at any given event where our services are combined, the end result is that the patrollers end up triaging and dealing with 90 to 95 per cent of the patient load. This relieves both the paramedic services of a workload but also significantly reduces the risk of overload in the local hospital ER units.

Working closely with the paramedics has also resulted in an enhancement and re-enforcement of our education program, leaving our patrollers much better prepared to respond to all types of medical or trauma calls. Because of the number and distributed nature of our events we have a much greater visibility throughout the community and have become an acknowledged member of the pre-hospital care community. As a result it has benefited our recruiting efforts both in quantity and quality of candidates. People now see us as having value to the community as a whole and not just to the skiing public.

While about 80 per cent of our events are annual repeats, the zone has also tended to focus on events that require significant numbers of patrollers, thus often operating in the face of significant challenges requiring a blend of organization, resiliency and well-grounded first aid education. As more and more ski resorts start to focus on a 365 approach to their businesses, it might benefit the CSP to be well positioned to be able to meet these new opportunities to expand our services.

Front triage part of Bluesfest tent
Bluesfest CSP volunteers
Most of the CSP team for RedBull Crashed Ice (2017)
Working the Army Run
Grey Cup 2017 weekend team – before the snow!
Working the Grey Cup!

(all photos provided by Nick Cartwright)

Gatineau Zone special events program