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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    ICAR 2019 Avalanche Report

    Here's a summary of some of the interesting stuff from ICAR 2019, Poland

    The Avalanche commission is in a rebuilding phase and working groups were created to establish priorities, directions, and long and short-term goals. Working groups were formed to focus on four specific topics:

    • Avalanche Commission Recommendations and Goals
    • Prevention: Strategies, Statistics and Trends
    • Industry Partnerships and Collaboration
    • Research, Design and Science

    A new collaboration platform will be introduced to help delegates collaborate on projects during the year. Stephanie Thomas from Teton County SAR was appointed vice presidnet of the avalanche commission. A new president of the commission will be elected next year. One theme that came up multiple times was how can we better focus on sharing experiences and lessons learned from rescues in other countries?

    MRA presentaions at the conference
    Michael talked about how you can come up with a backcountry avalanche incident plan for your rescue organization and things to consider. He also asked the question ‘How do we get better at avalanche rescue?’ and asked about what data different countries were collecting in regards to professional avalanche rescue. How many people were involved, what search techniques were used? What technique was used to find the victim?
    Oyvind gave the US accident report and noted this last season 19 of 25 fatalities involved a persistent weak layer (F, SH, DH). This is a continuing trend and why? Over the many years he have spent in the “avalanche industry” as a backcountry and mechanized ski guide, avalanche educator, and mountain rescuer it is becoming clearer and clearer to him that if we truly want to reduce avalanche fatalities we need to get a better handle on dealing with persistent weak layers. What are some possible causes:?
    - Avalanche education is not focusing on the difficulty of this problem?
    - Backcountry users are over estimating their ability to manage this problem?
    - Avalanche centers are not clearly communicating the dangers with this problem?
    - Or is the reason the human brain? We are not good or not even capable of dealing with high degrees of uncertainty, a high quantity of variables and variations, a long time span of uncertainty

    Teamwork in the Tetons – Cody Lockhart
    Cody described response to an avalanche accident in the sickle couloir on Mt. Moran in Grand Teton National Park. The mission was completed successfully largely due to the unified interagency response by Jenny Lake Rangers and Teton County Search and Rescue. Together they have built a strong integrated group of resources. The accident, mission, and subsequent reflection lead to the start of the backcountryzero vision and community initiative to reduce fatalities in the Tetons.
    It also lead to the creation of the Teton Interagency Peer Support group which provides mental health support to first responders from peers. The accident left many of the responders with mental health challenges. The team realized that there was something missing in their training and their support system as they were not spending a lot of time on the mental part of health. Now they have a psychological program that provides support and proactive outreach to make sure that everyone on the team is mentally healthy.

    There has been an increase in the use of drones for avalanche control and forecasting purposes throughout the world. It was suggested that drones could be utilized to assess danger to rescue teams. as avalanche “lookout”, or to mitigate danger to teams by explosive control of slopes. Drones are currently experimented with to deliver AED’s in several cities and could be used similarly in avalanche accidents for delivering ventilation equipment, first air gear, rewarming etc. D.r Will Smith from Teton SAR commented that they are currently working on this new and developing area in the Tetons. It is not a question of if, but of when in regards to the use of drones in many fields of mountain rescue.

    Forging a better chain of survival in avalanche terrain - Heiko Stopsack
    Following an avalanche accidents it is important to render first aid as quickly as possible. Stopsack asked what can we do to reduce this time to improve the survival chances for the patient. Is the recreational user fully prepared for travel in avalanche terrain? Can we forge a strongerr link in the avalanche chain of survival? We have provided gear, we have taught rescue skills, so what is next? He thinks we are missing an opportunity to teach good quality cpr, in this respect maybe we should treat avalanche rescue similar to an urban cardiac arrest event? He recommends that we incorporate high quality CPR into avalanche rescue courses. He believes that this an angle of attack to provide higher survival rates.

    Should Airbags be Mandatory Avalanche Safety Equipment - Christopher Van Tilburg
    Dr. Van Tilburg presented on avalanche airbag history and the current ICAR recommendation on airbags: “The efficiency of the transceiver in combination with probe and shovel, and of airbag systems has been proven”. Other organizations such as the Wilderness Medical Society have endorsed airbag use in their guidelines: “Travelers entering avalanche terrain should consider using and avalanche airbag.” Dr. Van Tilburg presented that a study by Haegeli, et al showed that airbags worked in reducing morbidity and mortality by about 11%. Dr. Tilburg stated that there are still plenty of questions and research to be done in regards to airbags such as:
    He also outlined several barriers for universal use of airbag such as cost, size, logistics, etc.
    He ended his presentation asking the audience if ICAR has a duty to make a stronger position on airbag use as an organization? The question enlisted quite a few comments from the audience both in support and against.

    Vegard Olsen and Dr. Julia Fielder presented on an avalanche accident in the Tamok Valley in Troms in Northern Norway
    In Norway an avalanche rescue took several weeks because of weather and unstable snow conditions. Due to the delay, they experienced a lot of pressure from the media and a lot of time was used to educate the media and the general population about the danger that the rescuers were facing. When conditions allowed, they shot the slope 25 times with a daisy bell and dropped 100kg of explosives on it before inserting rescuers. Waiting for conditions to improve and reducing hang-fire by explosive control are valid risk mitigation tools for rescuers.
    When life gives you haters, make haterade.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Good stuff thank you!

    @homemadesalsa would probably like to talk to you!
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    Good stuff thank you!

    @homemadesalsa would probably like to talk to you!
    "True love is much easier to find with a helicopter"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    west tetons
    I heard myself being paged on the loudspeaker, haha. Thanks Summit and Hacksaw.

    Sfotex- nice writeup. Wanna write it up for The Avalanche Review?

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