Originally Posted by com501
Because its free. And because it keeps people from listening and protects their business operations.
Oh, and because they can.
Every radio system I install, I encrypt if it has the capability.
Most EMS agencies don't encrypt their medic to hospital communications and they include extensive real time reports. For injuries at a ski area the patient reports are limited as the ski patroller has far fewer options to treat the injuries. Most ski areas I've monitored report the nature of the injury (chief complaint), mental orientation, if O2 is being administered and in some cases plus and blood pressure. This is done so that dispatch can prioritize calls, medic units can decide if they need to respond code 3 and if they need additional help from the fire department. If EMS agencies are not encrypting and are not legally required to do so by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) why do ski areas think they need to encrypt?
I can’t think of anything a ski area communicates over a radio where they need “to protect their business operations.” The nature of the ski industry requires sharing of information relative to lift operation and maintenance, slope maintenance, patrol operations and avalanche mitigation.
Currently there are 8 manufacturers of ski lifts in the world, 4 of which are located in the western hemisphere. The maintenance procedures are well known and published for each of them. The manufacturing, installation and maintenance procedures for them are regulated by a host of agencies and industry groups, largely in part, because of civil suits.
Patrol operations are pretty straightforward. The amount of money and effort ski areas put into their ski patrols varies some. Some are more professional than others, with an overall level of training and experience higher than others. Some rely on volunteers more and some on paid staff. Some have ski patrol personnel that work year round and others only have season part time employees. Skiing sports magazines have annual reader surveys of ski areas with criteria for rating ski areas. The ski areas that make a large effort running their ski patrols always rank high. The same is true of grooming. Grooming techniques are fairly straightforward, what varies is how much time and how many people are working on it. The ski areas that invest in high quality machines and employ a large grooming force consistently rank high in the magazines. The number of grooming machines and snow cats on the market is limited to just a few worldwide.
Avalanche mitigation uses the same techniques no matter what ski area is involved. Some adaptation for unique terrain may exist, but the methods of placing and detonating explosives drawn from to make those adaptations are common. Explosive products are commonly available. Following detonation ski cutting turns and jumping are standard and well known techniques that have been around since ski areas have existed. Ski patrol members and outdoor operations supervisors and managers, at some point, are required to attend the National Avalanche School for basic training. Continuing and more specialized training is necessary and given by various consultants and schools available to everyone. The technology, methodology and science are widely shared. The ski area I live next to hosts international groups who travel to the U.S. to see “how we do it.” U.S. ski managers travel to Europe as the Swiss are particularly knowledgeable.
It is common for people, especially those in the early parts of their career, to work for more than one, sometimes several, ski areas. In doing so the nature of the business is widely shared. Exchanges of personnel and industry seminars are frequent so that knowledge is widely shared. Ski areas often conduct joint training for not only avalanche mitigation, but for rescue, EMS and lift maintenance techniques. National ski patrol associations provide common practices, qualifications and training requirements. Training and qualifications for ski instructors is standardized in a highly detailed system governed by the PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors Association of America) and the AASI (American Association of Snowboard Instructors). Training for regions of the country is held at different ski areas annually for the purpose of sharing the knowledge of how different ski areas operate. There is a professional journal for ski area managers called “Ski Area Management.” My wife has volunteered for a group called the “International Ski History Association” that publishes a magazine called “Skiing Heritage.” I read some of it on occasion. It contains the evolution of everything in the development of the ski industry worldwide. Some of this is done to help individual ski areas address lawsuits, as the ski industry has more than its share of liability exposure. Lord knows that ski areas are sued as often as their CEO’s get a cup of coffee.
When I’ve skied at downhill areas in the western U.S., I enjoyed taking a handheld with me. Although I don’t do so anymore when I’m near a ski area I still enjoy listening to how different areas go about their tasks. When I was on the hill I could hear reports as to lift breakdowns, line length, snow conditions, run crowding, etc. My wife and I would divert to different chairs and runs as a result of what we heard. It was fun to be one of the first to ride a lift that had been broken down for an extended period of time and have runs all to ourselves. We were helping the ski areas by staying away from trouble areas. As interesting as I find listening to ski areas I can say very few people do so. The information transmitted on their radio systems are heard by very few people.
Accident reports and statistics are part of a special use permit file of the U.S. Forest Service and a majority of ski areas in the west are on National Forest land. These items are public information, with names redacted on any specific report copies given to those that request them, with the exception of those gathered for court proceedings. The federal government through the Forest Service incurs its share of civil liability in issuing and administering these special use permits and regulates all the outdoor operations of a ski area.
My observations of ski area operations are based on the following. I live 2 miles from a major ski area that can have as many as 20,000 skiers per day on the mountain. This ski area is located on and administered by the same ranger district I worked on for 10 years. I worked closely with a friend and coworker who administered the downhill ski area permit, one of the most complex in the country. I was a avalanche "gun" loader trainee when I retired. I have a lot of acquaintances on the ski patrol. I administered a cross country ski area permit adjacent to the downhill area that shared some avalanche hazards. I attended the National Avalanche School in the 80's to be able to assess conditions in the backcountry, address problems with private land being at the bottom of an avalanche chute located on National Forest land and to administer a helicopter ski permit. During half my years of downhill skiing (1973-1996) I had handheld scanners or a King radio with me when I stepped into ski bindings. I bring up my background for one reason only, to point out that I have more knowledge of how ski areas operate than the average individual.
I can’t readily think of an industry that is as open as downhill skiing. The statement “protecting their business operations” is vague and without merit in my view. I welcome someone more familiar with the ski industry to explain this further.