SmartMountain – The Story

SmartMountain – The Story

It is a busy Saturday in February, and the mountain is straining under several thousand skiers and riders. All lifts are turning, parking lots are overfull, lodges are jammed, and all looks good. Then a slide happens in the North Bowl, and there are reports of people in the slide, and Lift 6 goes down with a full load, and the evac motor won’t start. The day quickly turned 180 degrees.

I will not profess that any technology that Steep represents could have prevented the slide. Indeed, things happen regardless of the best preventive maintenance, so MountainOffice wouldn’t have prevented Lift 6 from going down. I sincerely hope that no salesperson in the technology industry claims they can prevent such a day from occurring.

I will say that with good training and leadership and SmartMountain, the eventual outcome of the day could be as minimally impactful as possible. A bold statement for sure but one I am confident in making. I’ll leave the training and leadership piece to another day and assume those elements are in place.

With SmartMountain Dispatch in place, all radio and phone communication can be documented and placed into the incident command locations pre-established. The dispatcher would have all the requisite forms in position to know which questions to ask and who is to be notified and track each communication regarding the necessary action steps required. (a well-trained dispatcher is critical – ah training element appears)

Upon Lift 6 going down and its evac motor not starting, dispatch notifies lift maintenance via a 10-60, and lift mechanics respond. Dispatch has also notified ski patrol via radio and created the incident in SmartMountain; the timer is running. SmartMountain has also communicated with those who must be informed to have consistent messaging across the resort. Dispatch has also notified ski patrol via SmartMountain about the slide and the fact that people are in the slide. The incident is sent to all patrollers. Patrollers respond by picking up the incident in their mobile devices in the SmartMountain inbox. Each patroller can access the avy slide procedures via SmartMountain on their mobile device. Patrollers canvas slide observers and find people who know who the trapped people are and create individual incidents for each known person. These are all plotted on the ski area trail map of the slide area, which has been identified by patrol on the scene via SmartMountain on their mobile device. As rescues occur, patrollers can update the status of the individual incidents on their mobile devices as to injury and transportation status; again, this information gets updated on the dispatch screen in real-time. Dispatch has a complete picture of what is happening on the ground, as do appropriate managers and executives.

The Lift 6 countdown is ongoing, counting down the minutes until an evac is to be called, which is of great concern since most patrollers are on the slide scene searching for people in the slide. Fortunately, the lift mechanics, both teams, can communicate with dispatch via radio and keep dispatch appraised of the situation. Dispatch knows the situation and can refer to the EAP manual for the non-patrollers trained in the evac procedure. A note is sent via text from SmartMountain to the list that they are to report to the patrol room for a possible evac. (Training again) Lift mechanics via MountainOffice access the lift’s manual on their devices, troubleshoot the outage problem, and determine an electrical fault, which they can bypass to run the lift on electric, and the lift evac is eliminated.

All missing people are found in the slide and are transported to the clinic. Their medical history and treatment at the clinic are recorded in SmartMountain as well as their discharge instructions from the clinic. No serious injuries.

The day has reversed itself again, and you sit proudly with your team, recognizing the training, leadership, and decision to install SmartMountain at the mountain.