Red Lodge Mountain’s “Slide Safe, Dress Smart” initiative has won the National Ski Areas Association’s (NSAA) Best Helmet Safety Program award for 2014.
The NSAA Safety Awards recognize resort programs that excel in educating guests and employees about skiing and snowboarding responsibly, and are announced each spring at the NSAA National Convention and Tradeshow.
Red Lodge Mountain’s “Slide Safe, Dress Smart” program was developed by the mountain’s ski patrol director, Anne Rickbeil in cooperation with Chris Benton, a registered nurse and trauma coordinator at Beartooth Billings Clinic. “After spending seven years patrolling at RLM I recognized that many kids were not being properly educated on winter dress, respecting Your Responsibility Code, and most importantly sliding safe,” said Rickbeil. Targeting local K-12 students who plan to ski at Red Lodge Mountain through the area’s school group program, the initiative has been met with great success.
The focus of “Slide Safe, Dress Smart” is proper dress and nutrition, on-hill safety, including chairlift use, skiing/riding within area boundaries, speed control, and on-hill courtesy. The program also stresses the importance of taking part in lessons to learn and improve the skills to maintain speed control, and to never ski alone. The program featured the Beartooth Billings Clinic “Lids Save Lives” initiative to educate parents and children on the value of helmet use and proper fitting, along with an offer for a helmet at a reduced price. In addition, the clinic and the mountain distributed information on how to recognize a concussion and what to do if one is suspected.
Since the program begin in 2012, the mountain has shared it with seven school systems in rural Montana, having reached out to more than 1,973 grade school students and 144 adults. “From a mountain operations perspective we have seen fantastic improvement in the way these kids are coming prepared to ski or snowboard for the day and their actions at RLM,” Rickbeil said. “We have also seen a great decrease in the number of accidents we get called to for injured kids.