1. #1
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    Question Avalanche Rescue & Operations

    This is probably a bit out of the normal range of responses most of you deal with, but I wanted to see if anyone has any materials they like to use in classroom or field training re: avalanche rescue and awareness.

    I have extensive materials currently but I'm always looking for new, interesting, and/or innovative ways to present training topics.

    On a related note - do many of you have first due or mutual aid responsibilities in avalanche prone areas? If so, what level of response (awareness/ops/tech) is typical and is it a USAR/TRT type response? Are these typically multi-agency incidents managed via ICS/unified command?

    Thanks!

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    The only new concepts I've seen recently are strategic shoveling techniques designed to minimize time of extraction once a beacon search has narrowed down the location of the subject. In my view these shoveling methods should be mastered by mountaineers; we recently started teaching them as part of our team training since we are all climbers anyways and have searches/rescues in avalanche terrain every winter. So, the argument (that I hear often) that our role in avalanche response is body recovery doesn't fly with me. Unfortunately, I can't say that I'm terribly proficient in these methods or have any innovative ways to teach them. As a training officer I usually defer to experienced avalanche schools to train my team.

    The two avalanche searches I responded to in recent years were clearly recoveries and out of our county. The time to response exceeded a day in both. Multiple MRA teams participated in both. The NPS ran ICS in one of them, and MRA operations leaders/county sheriff ran ICS in the other. As far as avalanche response in our county goes, we'd be on our own until state DEM sent other MRA teams.

    The west end of our county borders on a national park, so we'd probably get assistance from the NPS at that end. Our county also has one ski area. The ski patrol has responded outside of the ski area proper into the county in the past; there were problems with command and control between the ski patrol and county resources in at least one of these operations. That was about 14 years ago, I think those problems have been resolved since.
    I don't recall any cases nearby where a FD participated in an avalanche response.

    Wish I could help more. Avalanche rescue should be my "thing", but it just bores me. That's why I defer to people who make a living thinking about snow.

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    I also have access to a very nice go/no go checklist; a tool for evaluation of snowpack, weather, and terrain for determining if a climbing team should even leave the parking lot. Should be just as useful for rescue teams. Also have access to lectures on evaluation of snowpack, weather, and terrain. You certainly already have all this stuff but I can send anything you'd like to look at.

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    Actually, if you have some good material on the ICS/field management side of avalanche response, I'd sure like to snag it from you.

    Thanks.

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    Thanks!

    We got lots of good material but I'm always looking to keep things fresh and interesting. We've done a fair amount on strategic shoveling and LOTS on go/no go, terrain and travel option evaluation, stability testing, etc. My unit is an MRA team so we use a lot of the materials available there.

    In the search component of our SAR role we are often in conditions/terrain where avalanches are a real risk. The rescue component would most likely be for one of our own so high levels of proficiency are expected. Body recoveries are usually the rule if you're responding on an avalanche that has already taken place, but I don't always assume that. Besides - working a recovery may put you and your personnel in the same terrain/conditions that led to the initial incident.

    ICS/unified command issues are often a factor as you noted. I've found those require less avalanche related skills and more political/management skills! Any more the typical notification is via 9-1-1 call (cell usually) which generates a large multi-agency response including USAR units, mountain SAR units, etc. Skilled field leadership - particularly in the safety role becomes a critical factor. As long as the IC is smart enough to let the crews in the field manage the operation based on their size up we do OK. ICs that try to make the decisions from a CP that is potentially miles away from the site is when we have problems. Having someone in the CP doing Ops that is experienced makes a difference.

    Tomorrow is a refresher so pretty much everyone has been through at least a Level 1 or equiv. program. Some Level 2 (and above) experience although no one is doing patrol work and handling explosives.

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    delete dupe....
    Last edited by MtnRsq; 01-13-2012 at 07:11 PM. Reason: edited to delete dupe post

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    Quote Originally Posted by servantleader View Post
    Actually, if you have some good material on the ICS/field management side of avalanche response, I'd sure like to snag it from you.

    Thanks.
    I'm revising the existing deck. I'll be happy to send it out later this weekend.

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    Thanks. No hurry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by servantleader View Post
    Thanks. No hurry.
    Check your PMs.

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