Avalanche search and rescue training on Mount Washington during one day exercise

Avalanche search and rescue training on Mount Washington during one day exercise

Thirty-five members from four SAR organizations met for a one-day exercise.

Probe lines are one of the ways searchers can find someone buried in an avalanche. It’s when a team of searchers line up side-by-side probing the snow with long poles as they take small steps forward.

And when they hit on something, the digging begins. However, the victim could be under several feet of snow and time can quickly run out on the person who is buried.

“Its half hour to 45 minutes is really pushing it,” said Trevor Provost of Campbell River Search and Rescue (SAR). “Honestly if they?re not wearing a transceiver and their buddy doesn?t rescue them it?s not going to be a good thing.”

That could mean a recovery instead of a rescue.

The chances of survival increase dramatically if you have a transceiver when you’re buried in an avalanche. Searchers can hone in on your location much quicker.

On Sunday, 35 people from Arrowsmith SAR, Nanaimo SAR, Comox Valley SAR and Campbell River SAR were practising all of this, well aware that an avalanche taking several people with it can and will happen on the island someday.

“We are lucky that the coastal snowpack tends to be quite stable but we also have quite a few people coming into the backcountry know who are not quite as avalanche aware I say other areas of the province like Revelstoke or Fernie,” said Janet Rygnestad of Comox Valley and Nanaimo SAR.

Avalanche search and rescue dogs are also an important part of the picture but there?s only one on Vancouver Island. It?s Janet’s dog named Rory and today he was training alongside two avalanche-trained RCMP dogs from Chilliwack.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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