Item: Beacon rescues
Title: Beacon rescues
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 1982 International Snow Science Workshop, Bozeman, Montana, USA
Authors: Knox Williams, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, 240 West Prospect St., Ft. Collins, Colorado 80526
Abstract: Avalanche rescue beacons have been in use for slightly more than a decade. Three types of beacons-Skadi, Pieps, and Echo-are available in the United States. Also called transceivers, these beacons transmit a radio signal at the frequency of 2275 Hz and are compatible with one another. Rescue beacons gained quick acceptance among professional ski patrols and are now being used by most winter schools, tour guides, and many powder skiers and ski mountaineers. Since 1974, in the United States, 18 people buried by avalanches have been located and recovered through the use of rescue beacons. These accidents have provided information on the effectiveness of, and problems with, beacons. Of the 18 people buried, 11 survived, 7 did not. Beacons are a proven lifesaver, for among the 11 survivors, 8 can definitely attribute their survival to the beacon, while beacons hastened the recovery of the other three survivors. Of the 7 fatal cases, the lack of probes and shovels in three cases slowed the recovery and may have contributed to the deaths. Other conclusions drawn are: 1. Efficient use of beacons requires practice, practice, practice. 2. Probe poles and shovels complement the quick-location capacity that beacons provide. 3. Patrollers and snow rangers have the best safety record. 4. The failure of a rescuer to turn his beacon to "receive" caused confusion and delay in one case. 5. The radio interference problem reported in one case was a result of inexperience. 6. People wearing beacons sometimes take additional risks because of the lifesaving capacity of the beacons. 7. Beacons are no substitute for proper decision making and route selection.
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Keywords: deaths, recovery, rescue, beacons
Digital Abstract Not Available