Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze

FREERIDE SAFETY: THE BASICS OF AVALANCHE RESCUE

When skiing off piste, there is always a risk that an avalanche can release, the degree of risk depending on the weather, the slope, the snow conditions. No matter what, you should always be prepared to rescue potential victims of an avalanche, may they be part of your group or not. Discover the essential steps of avalanche rescue in this video proposed by La Chamoniarde.
Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze

I - ANALYZE & ORGANIZE THE RESCUE PARTY

Taking time to observe your environment in order to prevent any risk of further accident and dispatch the tasks for efficiency are two primary rules of avalanche rescue.

1 - ENSURE YOUR OWN SAFETY FIRST

You witnessed an avalanche release or just found one where you have been earlier on? If your first reaction si to organize the search and rescue of potential victims, you first need to make sure you are safe above all things.

 

Look at the situation, look around: can another avalanche release? are you in a dangerous spot with crevasses, ice?

Whatever the situation, put yourself out of harm's way first: put your climbing harness on and attach yourself to something, put your crampons on, make an attachment point with a ski to secure yourself...

 

2 - LOOK FOR CLUES ON THE SURFACE

Once you are safe, check if some clues on the surface of the avalanche point to the presence of potential victims: a ski, a pole that sticks out, a piece of clothing or equipment... If you see something, start organizing the search according to the clues (where they are). No matter what, let the emergency and rescue know that an avalanche has released in a frequented area.

 

3 - APPOINT A LEADER

In order for the rescue party to be efficient, one person must lead and distribute the roles:
- start the search with the avalanche beacons
- call the emergency and rescue services 

 

The leader must remind everyone the search and rescue steps, organize the party and the necessary rotations, checks the safety status of the group, relays information when needed.

 

4 - GET READY TO SEARCH WITH THE AVALANCHE BEACONS

Before starting the search, you must get your gear ready. Here is the list of what needs to done:
- turn off and put away your phone
- turn the avalanche beacons in search mode
- take your probe and shovel out of your backpack

Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
CALLING 112

 WHAT ⇒ An avalanche has released

WHERE ⇒ Try to pinpoint your location by giving precise geographical landmarks, as much as you can.

WHEN ⇒ If you came by the same place earlier, or have seen this place and there was no avalanche then, try to give a time for the avalanche release, anything you can say to know how long the potential victims have been burried under the snow in the avalanche.

WEATHER ⇒ Explain the weather of your location and time when calling the emergency services.

Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze

II - SEARCHING THE VICTIM WITH AN AVALANCHE BEACON

This is the basic rule of avalanche rescue: know how to use your avalanche beacon in order to be able to locate the victims. As soon as you are ready, get to it, the success of an avalanche rescue depends on how fast you do it.

1 - SEARCH A SIGNAL: THE METHOD

Your avalanche beacon is in search mode, you head towards the presence clue by crossing the avalanche width in zig-zags.

To be efficient and in order not to miss the signal, the width between two turning points mus equal the distance indicated on the back of your beacon. 

 

Once your beacon has a signal, switch to an approximate search. Let the party know you have a signal. 

 

2 - APPROXIMATE SEARCH: FOLLOW THE INDICATOR

Approximate search will allow to locate the victim in a 10 metres radius.

Put your beacon horizontally closer to the snow and keep moving closer to the signal according to your beacon indications. As soon as the beacon indicates that the signal is less than 1à metres away, take off your skis on the spot to mark the limit of the 10 metres area. 

Let the rest of the party know what you have fond so you can organize the next steps of the search and rescue.

 

3 - FINE SYSTEMATIC SEARCH

As soon as your beacon indicates the 3 metres area, switch to fine systematic search:
- get the beacon closer to the snow
- use the "cross search" technique (or any other technique you know and you're comfortable with)
- once you've located the closest signal, plant your pole to mark the spot where the victim must be according to the avalanche beacon.

Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze

III - LIBERATING THE VICTIM

As soon as you locate the victim, the most important is to free them as quickly as possible. Members of the party must coordinate to be efficient and quick.

1 - START DIGGING

In order to liberate a victim form the snow without hurting them, you need to start digging about 2 metres above the location of the victim. 
If you are two or more digging, you must form a line. 

 

2 -  SEARCH THE EXACT SPOT WITH THE PROBE

To find the exact spot where the victim is, and to know how deep they are burried, you need to probe in "square": plant the probe at an angle of 90° to surface of the avalanche, then form a "square spiral". Each probing is realised 25cm from the previous one, at a 90° angle.

 

Once you touch the victim with the probe, leave the probe on the spot to mark it.

 

3 - FREE THE VICTIM

In line, a shovel away form one another, the persons who are in charge of shovelling turn every 4 minutes or so.
Speed is of the essence when someone is burried under the snow..
The first person shovels the snow closest to the victim, the second one shovels the snow the first person has pushed...

Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze

MULTIPLE VICTIMS

There might be other people burried under the avalanche, knowing that a freerider never goes off piste alone. If you don't see them, even without any surface evidence, you need to search for the other victims as soon as the first one is located.

Use every resource at your disposal: get the person in charge of calling rescue service to do the systematic fine search of the second victim while the others are shovelling to free the first victime.

Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze

VI - RESCUE THE VICTIM: FIRST AID

Rescuing can mean doing nothing, merely protect the victim as best as you can until the professionals arrive. Do what you can, according to your means, your knowledge and your experience.

1 - CHECK CONSCIOUSNESS

When you find the victim, you need to check first if they are conscious: call, ask the person if they can hear you.
If they don't respond, get them completely out as quickly as possible to check if they breathe.

 

2 - CHECK FOR BREATHING

Immediately clear the airways from the snow or anything that may obstruct them.
Check that the victim is breathing. If needed, give 5 rescue breaths and then check for breathing again.
If needed, start CPR following this rythm: 30 chest compressions, 2 rescue breaths.

 

3 - PROTECT THE VICITM WHILE WAITING FOR EMERGENCY RESPONDER TO ARRIVE ON SCENE 

Protect them from the cold as much as you can without putting yourself in harm's way. Use your survival blanket if you have one.
Also protect them from any new avalanche release, or even from the sun if need be.

Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze

GET INFORMATION

If the victim is alert, ask them to give you any information they can about the circumstances of the avalanche: how many people they were in the area when it happened, the conditions, the possible location of the other potential victims...

Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze

V - CALLING THE EMERGENCY SERVICES BACK: DETAILED STATUS

Any information you can give to the first responders lay save time and lives.

Once the victims are out of the snow, call the rescue services again to give them a detailed status of the situation:
- number of victims
- consciouness status
- possible injuries
- first aid given

 

When the helicopter arrives, let them know where you are by raising your arms forming the letter Y, meaning YES.

If you raise only one arm, or wave both arms, it means NO and the pilot might turn away.

Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
These basics steps of avalanche rescue are essential to know when you go off piste, but there is nothing like training in the field. So no hesitation, get training with professionals and share your expertise as much as you can!
Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
se former à la sécurité en hors piste, toutes les infos avec wed'ze

** OCEANE VIBERT **

Director of La Chamoniarde

HAUT DE PAGE