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Avalanche Survivors

Avalanche Survivor

If you are the survivor of an avalanche accident, remember the following points: -

Do not panic: The lives of your buried comrades may depend on what you do in the next hour. Check for further slide danger - pick a safe escape route in case of a repeat avalanche.

Mark last seen position: Mark the position on the avalanche path where the victim was last seen as he was carried down by the snow. This will narrow the area of your search and that of the rescue party. Use a firmly planted ski, pole, or large branch which will not be lost under a subsequent snowfall.

Quick search: If there are only two or three survivors, they must make a quick but careful search of the avalanche before going for help. If possible, one man should be left at the accident scene to continue the search and guide the rescue party.

Search surface below last seen position: Search the surface of the avalanche for evidence of the victim or clues to his location. Mark the location of any pieces of his equipment you may find - these provide additional indications of the path taken by the flowing snow. Search carefully and kick up the snow to uncover anything which may lie just beneath the surface.

Sole survivor: If you are the sole survivor, you must still make a through search of the avalanche area before going for help. This may seem obvious, but it is a rule all too often neglected. Even the simplest search may enable you to find the victim and free him alive.

Through search: If a rescue party can be summoned only after several hours, the survivors must concentrate on making as thorough a search as possible with their own resources. The chances of a buried victim being recovered alive diminish rapidly after two hours.

Probing: If the initial search fails, probe with avalanche rod below the last seen point. Trees, ledges, branches or other terrain features which have caught the snow are most likely places to search. If there are several survivors probing of likely spots can continue until a rescue party arrives. If you are alone, you will have to decide when to break off the search and seek help, depending on how far away it is.

Send for help: If there are several survivors, send only two. The remaining survivors must search for the victim or victims in the meantime. If it is likely to take two hours or more for help to reach the scene, and the avalanche is not too large, the victim may have a better chance if everyone continuous to search. This is a difficult decision which depends on individual circumstances.

Going for help: When going for help, travel carefully, avoid accidents and injuries. The victims' chance of survival depends on your getting through. Mark your route, especially if fresh snow is falling, so that you can find your way back. Try to avoid complete exhaustion. The rescue party will normally expect you to guide them back to the accident scene unless its location is absolutely clear.

First Aid: If the victim is found, treat him immediately for suffocation and shock. Free nose and mouth of snow and administer mouth to mouth artificial respiration if necessary. Clear the snow from the inside clothing and place the victim in sleeping bag with head downhill. Very gentle application of external heat will help counteract severe chilling. Any further injuries should then be treated according to standard first aid practices.


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Published on: 2005-06-02 (1815 reads)

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