Featured, Local News

Meet Okemo Patrol Manager Greg Cartier

By Karen D. Lorentz

Greg Cartier, who was born and raised in Holyoke, Massachusetts, was introduced to his calling in life when he attended a Vermont college.

“I was a member of Norwich University’s Mountain Cold Weather Rescue Team and it was a turning point in my life. The members of this team were some of the most skilled mountaineers I have ever been around. This team made me more aware of my love for the wilderness and respect for the mountains. The technical skills that I learned during this training were the foundation of my career,” Cartier said, telling the Mountain Times of a particularly meaningful experience that eventually led to his dream job at Okemo.

Courtesy Okemo

After college, Cartier took a commission as an Infantry officer in the Army.

“My military training included Mountain Warfare School, Airborne School, and Ranger School. I deployed to Iraq as a platoon leader with the 10th Mountain Division. I learned a lot about leadership during this time,” he said, noting the diversity of his soldiers and the lasting bonds and friendships made.

Following his separation from the Army in 2008, Cartier entered law school and enjoyed a clerkship at a Boston law firm.

“This job was great but I truly missed working with my hands outside,” he noted. So after graduating with a degree from Western New England University School of Law in 2011, Cartier made “big plans to move out to Durango [Colorado] where my sister Liz and her husband live.”

The weekend before the move he met his my wife, Angela and after multiple trips across the country, they decided to settle in Vermont.

“We loved the landscape and community in the Ludlow area. I was offered a job with Okemo Ski Patrol and we moved here,” Cartier said.

Q&A with Greg Cartier

Moutain Times (MT): When did you join Okemo and what does your job entail?

Greg Cartier (GC): I joined Okemo Ski Patrol in 2015. Our main focus is ensuring the safety of our guests while providing the best guest experience possible. We identify and mitigate hazards on our trails, administer first aid to injured guests, transport injured guests off the mountain, and coordinate with local EMS.

In 2020 I became the manager of ski patrol and now work more closely with other mountain operations departments to coordinate the daily operations of the mountain. I am also a regional instructor for lift evacuation and working at heights. This gives me the opportunity to travel to other mountains and meet people who share the same passion for working in the ski industry.

MT: Has your job been affected by Covid?

GC: There have been a lot of changes to how we handle guest interactions, patient care and social distancing in common areas. We have noticed that some of these procedures are more efficient than what we’d been doing in the past and plan on keeping these changes. So there is some positive to come out of it.

MT: What do you like about your job?

GC: The other patrollers. I have been on a lot of different teams/groups where we have to work together in stressful situations and where there are serious consequences to the success of the group. I feel that these groups need to be tight knit and have the ability to predict each other’s moves. It takes a lot of training and skill to be able to perform this seamlessly. Okemo Ski Patrol is a very unique team with many different personalities and backgrounds. We all work well together and complement each other’s skills. I feel comfortable in the most complex situations with any member of the team. We have a very strong group of patrollers, and I am honored to be part of the patrol.

MT: What are the patroller requirements and what training is offered? 

GC: We follow National Ski Patrol guidelines and require Outdoor Emergency Care as our medical certification. We have an extensive training program for our first-year patrollers. We do this to ensure proficiency in medical assessments, skiing/toboggan skills, lift evacuation, and trail maintenance.

After their first year, we provide opportunities for patrollers to expand their skill level by taking outside certifications and classes. We have patrollers who have continued to gain certifications in ski and toboggan handling, medical care, and rope access.

The skills required to be a proficient patroller are constantly evolving, and there is always an opportunity to improve. We try to stay on top of the current changes in the industry and support our patrollers in gaining and maintaining these skills.

MT: What changes have you seen in your job? 

GC: I applied to Okemo Ski Patrol because I was searching for a job that would bring me to this area and keep me working in a fast paced environment in the mountains. Many positive changes have happened over the years. We now have the opportunity to be part of best practice groups across the [Vail Resorts] company where we are able to discuss different policies and procedures and identify the best way to handle different situations.

It feels like there is a greater emphasis on safety and patrol is supported heavily throughout the company. I have been very fortunate that these changes gave me the opportunity to transition my job into a career.

MT: Were there any people who were special influences or mentors to you? 

GC: No doubt about it: 100% my family. In their own unique ways, my father and both my sisters were my mentors. My sisters may not know it but I truly look up to them. My father was a very wise and caring man. I aspire to be more like him every day. When I encounter tough situations, I think about what advice he would give me. If I can’t think of what he would say, I can simply call my sisters and they have no problem telling me what to do. They’ve been doing that my whole life.

MT: How do you spend your time outside of work?

GC: I am an avid woodworker, fly fisherman and runner. In the recent years we have been spending the majority of our spare time introducing our 4-year-old daughter Clara to skiing and the Vermont lifestyle. Hopefully in the near future, we will be able to travel more and visit family in Colorado and Washington.

MT: What’s your take on Vermont? ski town lifestyle?

GC: Vermont is an extremely special place. We moved here for the winters, but we stayed because of the summers. In this industry we rely on tourism. The town may get busy at times, but it makes me proud knowing that I live a lifestyle that others consider a vacation.

MT: What would you tell someone who wanted to move here?

GC: Don’t let the opportunity to move here slip away from you. Since creating a career out of my passion for first responding in the mountains, I am truly happy to go to work each day. My wife Angela has had great success here as well and found her dream job as a principal at Grafton Elementary School. I love everything about our lifestyle here, and we are enjoying raising Clara here. I truly believe that we have a perfect Vermont life.

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