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On Saturday, January 15, 2011, four of us from CNSA were tasked to teach Fire Department personnel in how to ride snowmobiles. The class students consisted of 8 from CalFire/Butte county Fire Department and 8 volunteers from Butte County Fire Department, of which several were Fire Captains. Some had their own snowmobiles and also several had never ridden before.

The purpose of this class to CalFire personnel were to allow them to respond to medical aid in the snow trails used by snowmobiles, cross-county skier and snow persons. Butte Meadow Hillsliders Snowmobile Club had donated to the county for medical use, a tow sled, back board, stokes, full medical bag, oxygen and a snowmobile to pull the tow sled, all which is stored at the Jonesville Snow Park, which is at the trail head to many trails, in the Lassen National Forest. The CalFire Chief of Butte County Fire Department needed to have his personnel trained before using the donated equipment for liability reason.

During the morning session, the four of us presented the wherefores and where how in riding snowmobiles. Travis Bowersox of CalFire had put together pre-class information for his fellow students which was a great help to us. Since the students were all fire fighters, no need to cover first aid, except to go over what to pay extra attention in cold weather; i.e., hypothermia, the need to wear sunglasses, and dehydration. Other items covered were the various parts and locations of items on snowmobiles. Each of the instructors had brought several items for show & tell (examples). What clothing to wear in layers, helmets, and gloves. Discussed the various techniques in riding, going up & down hills, riding side hills, riding in groups using hand signals to communicate with others in the group.

Belt_removalAll of us then traveled to the Jonesville Snow Park (elevation 4,970) for hands-on class training in the parking lot. Getting close to lunch time, however lunch was being served at the Warming Hut Complex (elevation 6,500). The Butte Meadows Hillsliders club members had provided snowmobiles for those who did not have to a sled to ride. A great thanks to those club members for the use of their sleds. The only stipulation was that the loaned sleds were not allowed to leave the groomed trails. Now ready for some, their first ride on a sled. Many stops were made during the ride to the Warming Hut Complex for the CalFire firefighters to learn the local names of places on the trails in the event of a future required medical aid was necessary.

Lunch was ready at the Warming Hut Complex, the cooking was done by Bill Kelso of the Butte Meadows Hillsliders club, who also is the owner of The Mercantile Store in Butte Meadows, and the food was donated by Butte County Fire Company 24 volunteers. Volunteer Company 24 for providing the food and Bill Kelso for the cooking, our thanks to them

The Warming Hut is equipped with a Cell Phone booster, a wind generator to recharge the batteries, wood heating stove, lights and a bunker unisex bathroom.

After lunch more trail riding to return to where our vehicles were parked.

Some of the student’s comments: “Many thanks to CNSA and the instructors. You can’t know how important this was to our community.”, “Very good class. I learned a lot about snowmobiles. Instructors were knowledgeable and friendly. I would recommend this course to others.”, “Never rode a snowmobile before. By the time we were done, I felt confident I could handle riding into any rescue! Thanks guys. “, “The instructors were very knowledgeable and professional! They were through and made sure everyone knew and understood before moving on. They did an excellent job. Thank you very much!”

Warming_hutInstructors were: Steve Arata, Jerry (Crazy) Ham, Paulette Cappelen and Carl Cappelen.

LINKS: Butte Meadows Hillsliders web site.


Additional comments received from: Travis Bowersox, Fire Apparatus Engineer, CAL FIRE/Butte County Fire Rescue

I just wanted to pass a note on about how the Safety class for Butte County Fire went on January 15th, 2011.  First there were a total of 16 people from the Volunteer and Career staff that took part in the training.  The Instructors that came from CNSA were outstanding. They were all very knowledgable, professional and had a broad background in snowmobiling.  They were able to take a class full of mostly non-riders and make them feel  comfortable enough to affect a rescue with the equipment that has been provided by the Hillsliders Club.  The instructors worked very well with the students in the class and were able to answer everyones questions.  I wanted to Thank You, the instructors, and the Hillsliders for your hard work and assistance in teaching this class.  Most people I talked with after the class were astounded as to how much back country there was and the Captains who regularly work in the area were astonished as to how different the country looked when snow covered.  The snowmobiles that the students used for the class were graciously provided to us by the Hillsliders Snowmobile Club.  Without them we couldn't have held such a class.  We are very happy with our relationship with the Hillsliders Club and are looking forward to a continued strong working relationship with them in the area of Snowmobile safety.




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