Tina Choi, Big Bear Ski Patrol
NSP:When did you become a patroller, and what led you to start patrolling?
Tina: I became a patroller in 2013. My husband, David Nelson, has been a part of Big Bear Ski patrol for over 15-plus years, and when we were dating, he introduced me to the world of ski patrol. I was drawn to the obvious benefits, being in the outdoors, skiing, etc., but was captivated by the commitment and dedication to rescue efforts from the patrollers I met. I was also impressed with the in-depth training they received in Outdoor Emergency Care, skills that were important to me not just for ski patrol, but for everyday life. I knew that this invaluable training would enhance my knowledge in overall first aid skills, as well as my personal growth in dealing with a crisis or stressful situations, and you can't get any more intense than when you the life of another human being is in your hands.
NSP: What did you find most challenging about patroller training prior to becoming a patroller?
Tina: I believe it's important to always take myself out of comfortable situations. To truly evolve and grow, one must place themselves in situations of discomfort or unfamiliarity. I am a political lobbyist, and knew nothing about first aid and medical care, never mind Avalanche, Mountain Travel and Rescue, etc. In fact, I used to get queasy just looking at blood from a slight cut. However, once I started the Outdoor Emergency Care course under Cash Murphy and Wayne Wong in Burbank, California, I was instantly hooked. And although the training (OEC and OET) was extensive, close to 400-plus hours, it was an eye-opener for me on how much I didn't know.
This euphoria continued to my on-the-hill training at Big Bear Ski Patrol, when I started my Outdoor Emergency Transportation training and refined my skiing skills. The OEC class was a mental high, and the OET training was a physical high. I was so hooked that within the first year of patrol, I became an OEC instructor, took Avalanche Level 1 and MTR Level 1, and joined the Southern California Region board as an adviser for fundraising, marketing, and recruitment, and to date have raised close to $15,000for the region. In 2017, I completed by Senior level of both OEC and OET.
NSP: How many cups of coffee do you drink during a patrol shift?
Tina: Strictly one.
NSP: Powder or groomers?
NSP: What have you learned the most about yourself from patrolling?
Tina: First aid skills to serve me for a lifetime, crisis management skills, and the beauty of humanity in the depth of giving/sacrificing as shown by my fellow patrollers every day they show up to patrol. These are volunteers who give of their time, the one thing in life you can never get back, and sometimes put their lives at risk to save and care for others without asking for anything in return.
NSP: What do you find most rewarding about patrolling and being a member of the National Ski Patrol?
Tina: Knowing that I am in kinship with about 17,000 others in the nation who are part of one of the oldest and most highly regarded rescue organizations in the world, and that all of us are of the same ethos in our fundamental commitment to serve and protect those who are outdoor enthusiasts.
NSP: What are you most excited about in working the Olympics?
Tina: I immigrated from South Korea to the United States when I was 7 years old, so it's great to be back and in and among world class athletes and learning about PyeongChang and South Korean ski patrol protocols. It's also an amazing feeling to be regarded as a critical resource for rescue/lifesaving services for these pro athletes. And of course, representing not just NSP, but the U.S., in demonstrating our philanthropic spirit in volunteerism as well as our in-depth knowledge of OEC and on-the-hill rescue skills. out.
NSP: Do you have any advice for patrollers that want to learn how to get involved with working at the Olympics?
Tina: I was able to enlist the help of the Korean Consulate in Los Angeles. They were critical in opening doors for us in being able to submit names for consideration directly to the ski patrol director and venue medical officer at PyeongChang. I would suggest patrollers approach your local hill rep to then reach out to the region director/division director and finally NSP to reach out to the IOC or organizers of the host country. I believe the next winter games will be held in China.
Big Bear Ski Patrol delegation at the Winter Olympics: Jim Murphy -- hill rep, David Nelson, Robert Breit, David Reed, Richard Choi, Tina Choi