October 31, 2014
Winter 2013 - 2014

Learn how to: Conduct A Rescue

If your partner is buried in an avalanche, you don't have time to go for help; if you do, your buried  friend will most likely be dead when you get back.

Saving your partner is up to you!
Statistically you only have about 10 minutes to recover your partner alive. The only way to assure you are capable of saving someone is to have practiced realistic scenarios beforehand.

Ten minutes is not much time; but, if your group follows these steps, you CAN save your partner.

Here's what you do:

Watch the victim! Yell or use walkie talkies so everyone in the group knows what's happening. If you were following low risk travel protocols then only one person got caught. Remember the last point you saw the victim before he or she disappeared in the avalanche. 

Gather your group in a safe location and get organized. If there are multiple rescuers, agree on a the leader. Make sure it is safe. Don't become another victim! Be especially vigilant with hangfire - the portion of the slab that remains above and adjacent to the avalanche crown. Make sure no other avalanches can run into the same path.

Conduct a beacon search as described in the previous session. Look for and check surface clues such as gloves, helmets, and skis. Are there fingers in the glove? Is the ski attached to a boot? Leave clues in place after checking.

Once you've located, pinpointed and probed for the victim, begin digging downhill of the location so you have somewhere to throw the snow. The idea is to trench or tunnel towards the victim rather than digging a hole and standing on top of them (see next section on probing and digging).

Perform first aid if necessary. Check airway, breathing, and pulse. Check for other injuries and provide appropriate treatment. Complete a thorough evaluation of the victim's injuries before you call for help or send someone for help.  If someone leaves the scene for help, be absolutely sure that you have a plan and everyone understands it.

    Next Section: Probbing and Digging »