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Class of 2021

Innovator and Leader in West Virginia Snow Sports
Ski Patrol

Phil Firl

Phil was a veteran of the U.S. Army who served his country for 26 years which included two tours in Vietnam.  He served in the regular army, special forces, the West Virginia National Guard, and was a Vietnam Veteran. During a tour of duty in Vietnam, Phil earned a Purple Heart as well as many other military awards. During the extent of his military career, he attained the rank of First Sergeant. One had but to only listen to his stories of his service to understand his ability to teach and to mentor, his values, and his passions.


Phil joined NSP in 1979. He was one of the first members of both the volunteer and paid staff. Phil served Canaan Valley Resort, the Canaan Valley Ski Patrol, and the skiing public for over 40 years. He was the paid patrol director twice. During his 40 year career as a patroller, he was a Ski and Toboggan Trainer, First Aid Instructor, OEC Instructor, Lift Evacuation Advisor, Skills Evaluator and Patrol Board member. One of his tenures was during a tumultuous time for the patrol. With his guidance and his working relationship with the volunteer and paid members of the patrol, and the resort management, a successful solution was found and implemented. The patrol prospered as a result. While he has held many positions with the patrol, by far, his most cherished position was that of teacher and mentor.


After completing his basic patroller, he immediately became involved with instruction for new and current patrollers. He assisted in the instruction of on-the-hill patient care skills (when the first aid training was with the American Red Cross). In 1988, he assisted with the Winter Emergency Care (WEC) and the following year, he became an Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) Instructor and has continued to instruct and mentor with the OEC till his passing.

In 2016 he assumed responsibility for the resort Lift Evacuation Response. He assembled a group of patrollers to aid in the redesign of the lift evacuation procedures to standardize the learning process. The equipment was updated, and only the authorized equipment was made available for use. The evacuation staff was expanded to include specialized medical personnel whose sole focus was the rescuers and initial customer care during a lift evacuation.


Phil excelled in alpine skiing. He became involved in teaching and evaluating ski skills and toboggan handling at the patrol level. He continued to assist with the OET program at the patrol level from 1991-2019. As a patroller, he will be remembered as a leader, teacher, mentor, and above all, a friend to all. Phil had the knack of using his special operations military training to teach and mentor young patrollers. Phil had a seemingly unending knowledge of ways to splint and stabilize patients with all types of injuries.


He was especially good at teaching patrollers on how to think outside of the box when either the situation was not going as planned or when the situation did not fit a conventional solution. He encouraged patrollers to treat and package a patient utilizing only the supplies that were available in their pack or vest or what was readily available at the scene. Many patrollers found that they could provide great care to an injured skier with only limited resources.


Phil attained the certification of Senior Alpine Patroller in 1991. Phil was also inducted into the Canaan Valley Ski Patrol Hall of fame. Only Patrollers who were either a Patrol Director or patrollers who made significant contributions to the patrol on the regional, divisional, or national levels could be recommended for induction.

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