Item: Avalanche statistical survey
Title: Avalanche statistical survey
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2004 International Snow Science Workshop, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Authors: Gary Brill
Abstract: Recent work has demonstrated what has long been known; that avalanche incidents have as much to do with human factors as with the other parts of the Avalanche Triangle originally created by Fredston and Fessler. Munter has demonstrated statistically that avalanche accidents can be reduced by using mathematically based models. But statistics thus far are based on reported incidents rather than any measure of the rate of accidents. McCammon’s review of avalanche accidents in comparison to avalanche training levels (ISSW 2000) and use of heuristics in decision making (ISSW 2002) emphasize the need for education to account for these human factors in the goal of reducing accidents. Atkins (ISSW 2000) suggests in his study of Human Factors in Avalanche Accidents that data collection on accidents is infrequent and subject to biases. Jarry and Sivardiere (ISSW 2000) point out that “results should be related to the number of people frequenting the mountains”. The internet may provide a means to retroactively look back at avalanche accidents, give a view of what proportion of avalanche incidents go unreported, provide insight into the benefits of avalanche education, and suggest usage rates for public avalanche bulletins. This information may be valuable to future statistical studies, the improvement of avalanche education models and could provide better documentation of the value of public avalanche bulletins. It is proposed that an avalanche survey be initiated and distributed via avalanche educators and on known user websites. This survey would be self-tabulating and would be hosted on a neutral website.
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Keywords: avalanche education, decision making, avalanche triangle, avalanche accidents
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