The first 20 minutes are critical when rescuing someone buried in an avalanche. Chances of survival are still around 85% – afterwards these chances decrease drastically. On the other hand, the search for and rescue of a single avalanche victim takes 20 minutes on average. With this in mind, it is clear how precious time is and how invaluable a good training with his avalanche rescue gear can be.
Avalanche rescue is a race against time! Companion rescue, therefore, provides the greatest chances of survival for a buried subject. Companion rescue means that buried subjects are located and excavated by members of their party immediately after the avalanche slide.
If an avalanche occurs
As a Victim:
- Escape to the side
- Discard skis, snowboards, and poles (anchor effect)
- Try to stay on top
- Close your mouth; place your hands in front of your face (clear airway when the avalanche stops)
As a Witness:
- Memorize the last seen point as well as the direction of the avalanche
- Fix the primary search strip
The emergency plan lists the basic actions to be taken for a successful companion rescue operation.
- Obtain an overview
- I am searching with a transceiver: SEARCH
- I am not searching: Activate rescue-SEND (PULSE Barryvox only)
- At least one rescuer carries out an immediate search using their eyes, ears and a transceiver
- Transceiver search complete: Switch all transceivers to SEND
- Locate buried subject – provide first aid – Raise the alarm
Searching for buried subjects
Standard procedure for newer transceivers with direction arrow:
- Signal search:
Search area to the point where the first signal can be detected.
- Coarse Search:
Search area starting from the reception of the first signal until the immediate vicinity of the buried subject. In this phase the signal search pattern is abandoned in order to follow the signals leading to the buried subject.
- Fine Search:
Search area in the immediate vicinity of the buried subject.
First use of the probe until probe hit.
- Multiple buried subjects:
Pattern recognition is used to record buried subjects in a list and mark them as found by means of a marking function. Pattern recognition and the marking function help to locate most buried subjects without having to use any special procedures (search methods) for multiple burial situations.