Item: Probing for avalanche victims
Title: Probing for avalanche victims
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2004 International Snow Science Workshop, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Authors: Henry Ballard, Dale Atkins and Lin Ballard, Bryan Mountain Nordic Ski Patrol, National Ski Patrol, Boulder, Colorado, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Boulder, Colorado
Abstract: Experience from avalanche rescues and rescue drills reveals that often the buried victim is not found on the first or even second pass of an organized probe line. Traditional probe spacing used in North America is based on assumptions and practice done nearly 40 years ago (Schild, 1963 and 1973). More recent work by Jamieson and Auger (1997) challenged those assumptions and presented evidence that the original probabilities of detection (POD) were high, but still their probe targets were not human shaped, and thus did not offer a realistic search target. We developed a computer program PROBE that simulates a fully articulated human body, “buries” the body, and then implements the probing technique specified by various command line options. The derived “bodies” offer realistic targets, and the program can compare the PODs for different probe-pole grid patterns. 10,000 trials were run for a variety of probegrid spacings, including the standard coarse probe, Canadian 3-holes-per-step, and European methods. Results suggest significantly lower PODs for the commonly used probe-grid patterns. Search and rescue leaders should reconsider their use of the traditional techniques. Some options are offered that may make searching more efficient, for the sake of the searchers and of the buried victim.
Keywords: avalanche rescue, probing, pod, probelines, probe
Digital Abstract Not Available