Sunday, 19 October 2014

Beacon Interference from Objects

For the geeky folks out there here is a couple of papers from this years ISSW. Take home point is when on transmit keep electrical and magnetic objects more than 20cm away, and on receive (search) more than 50cm away.  If your a Recco operator then get your Beacon on your back and get objects away behind you and the scanner. We see a lot of rocks giving a Recco return signal in Scotland so maybe there is a high mineral content where this has occured.  Have a read - it's pissing down in Glencoe so reading the geeky stuff is easy.

Beacon Interference Paper 1

Beacon Interference Paper 2


Want a Transceiver?  Get a Tracker 3.  See demo here           and here


Monday, 6 October 2014

Avalanche Airbags, new Research

Pascal Haegli Canadian Avy forecaster and researcher has just published an up to date perspective on the effectiveness of avalanche airbags.  Its way too statistic based to get it all on here, but here are "The Take Home Messages"
  • Airbags are a valuable safety device but their impact on mortality is lower than previously reported and survival is not guaranteed.
  • For individuals seriously involved in avalanches of size 2 or larger, the use of an inflated airbag reduces the risk of dying from 22% to 11%.  This means inflated airbags will save about half the victims who would otherwise have died.
  • Non inflation's remain the most considerable limitation to effectiveness of airbags. The overall non inflation rate from all causes is 20%.
  • If non inflation's are taken into account airbags reduce the risk of dying to 13% and the proportion of saved victims is 41%
  • 60% of non inflation's are due to deployment failures by the user. Familiarity with deployment procedures and proper maintenance are paramount for ensuring that airbags work properly.
  • Personal safety benefits from airbags are quickly nullified if users use them to justify increased exposure to terrain where larger avalanches are possible.

Too big an article to put it all on here but never the less it shows the benefits of an airbag.  60% non inflations is a terrible stat and shows why users should practice popping the bag and not worry about the cost, practice re packing according to the correct manufacturer guidance, and pop the bag early if taken.

I chose to retail the BCA Float airbags because they are easy and cheap to get refilled so can be popped as often as you like. There is a lot of keech about one bag or two. Any big bag is just fine, its all about inverse grading and you being a nut.

Train Like you Fight!

As an AAA professional  I get my regular avalanche review with its many interesting articles. Here is one I thought worth sharing with ski patrollers.

December 3rd 2007 The "Canyons Resort" Park City Utah. After a storm cycle created avalanche risk the resort management via ski patrol undertook snow pack stability testing using explosives i.e avalanche control work.  Despite this an avalanche occurred post control where four skiers were caught in "Red Pine Chute" and one male skier was recovered fatal from trauma and an eleven year old successfully resuscitated from burial. The family of the male took the resort to court in a high profile test case that's taken ten years to resolve.  After lengthy expert witness testimony both for the plaintiff and the resort the jury trial found in favour of the resort. Conclusions were that all reasonable control measures had been taken and that even in resort skiing it is not 100% safe from avalanches or post control avalanches in avalanche terrian as long as all reasonable measures are taken, warnings posted and the public made aware of the inherent risks. Sometimes all we can say is its "reasonably safe" as we can never be sure.

I have attached the thoughts of the ski patrol director and safety director who undertook the rescue and who has lived with this incident and the years of court battle until exonorated. There are many thngs to take from this, not least "Train Like you Fight". Train hard, train often and make it real. And have good written policy and procedures. Those of us at annual training this weekend had an insight into the working of the NSW HEMS procedures and how emergency medicine is learning from the avaition industry, as well as the Bergrettung crib sheets for avalanche. If you need the crib sheets its all gone wrong, but the policy and procedures keep us right, and both public and rescuer safe.  We can't make it 100% safe but its the striving to try that saves lives and keeps the litigation at bay. Hold that as a pre season thought.


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Training and AGM BASP 2014

Fiona and I have just got back form an excellent weekend training meet and AGM for BASP.  Kate Hunter and the Glenshee Patrol team provided interesting speakers and very credible medical scenarios and workshops. We also had RECCO training from Peter Vieder of the Austrian Rescue service as up at Glencoe Mountain Ski Patrol we now have one of the new R9 RECCO receivers. Invercauld Arms down in Braemar fed and watered us very well indeed and the staff were very helpful and friendly.  This was also Fiona's retirement bash as she is retiring as administrator after 23 years at the helm of BASP. Like me she will stay involved with the association and may well be skiing a lot more than biking over the winter. She received gifts of two very high quality garden benches, flowers and a case of Champagne as well as many cards and hugs from all the great friends and colleagues we have at the evening meal.  The helm is now in the process of being handed over to Jess Higton based in Aviemore who is a good safe pair of hands. So BASP has a strong team of women running the show with Christine, Carol and Jess. 

We had an excellent boot fitting session from Andy Cuthill of "Freeze" which was really informative. The stand out lecture for me was Dr Luke Regan of HEMS New South Wales Australia talking about managing casualties in harsh environments. Pre Hospital care has come so far since the early days and I felt quite ancient having to admit I had done an ATLS course in 1991.  Some photos of the weekend to give you a flavour.  Well done the Glenshee team and especially Kate.

Kate gives us our marching orders
Alan Baillie with a MacInnes Mk4 museum piece


Car park probe line and Recco training from Peter of the Bergrettung
Cas Evac back to base


Luke Regan talking about NSW HEMS. 
Peter Vieder of the Bergrettung starting our Recco training


Killin MRT showing their muscle
A bit of hard work after hoisting out the gully


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Revised Avalanche Course Dates and Equipment Offers

Avalanche 101 at Glencoe Mountain.  A serious subject, but no reason why learning can't be fun!
Due to the success of last years courses hosted by Glencoe Mountain we are pleased to offer the following dates for courses this winter:

Saturday 29th Dec 2014
Saturday 10th Jan 2015
Saturday 31st Jan 2015
Friday 6th Feb 2015
Friday 13th Feb 2015
Friday 20th Feb 2015

Further dates to come for February including weekday courses if there are groups and demand

These are £40 per person with a further £10 if you require to hire a shovel, probe and beacon.  I may have some demo beacons which would be at no cost to try. While there won't be a lot of free skiing, we will be skiing about during scenarios and there is the chance of a quick blast at lunch and at the end of the hill training before meeting to debrief at the Cafe Ossian. I hope to be able to organise lift passes at a special rate. This is an avalanche avoidance course with beacon training following the teaching format of BCA's 101 system.
 
  • Weather snow and meteo
  • Avalanche release
  • Victim triggered avalanche: Snap, Crackle and Pop
  • Avalanche Forecast Interpretation 
  • Pre trip planning and pre depart Beacon checks
  • 4 "A"'s  of planning and slope assessment
  • Slope assessment the 3 "C"s before you drop in 
  • Beacon Searching 101: Three phases of a search, including signal spike, antenna orientation and smart antenna technology, Mark/Flagging and DAV 3 circle method
  • Probing 101: Including radial probing during pinpoint
  • Digging 101: Strategic shoveling and conveyor shoveling
  • Victim recovery:  Triple "H"
This training meets the basic log book requirement for avalanche level 1 for the British Association of Ski Patrollers

More courses may follow at Nevis Range or Glenshee if I get enough interest from a groups.

I can supply the full range of Ortovox, Back Country Access, Dynafit and Movement ranges of equipment. If you buy a Beacon (transceiver) from me I am more than happy to run a free familiarty session up the hill.  All kit is warrantied. While there may be cheap deals "online" you won't be buying from someone who knows the strong and weak points of various beacons and who has been at the sharp end of victim recovery and can offer proffessional advice and training on the slopes.


BCA Tracker DTS
Tracker 1 Beacon
2 antenna but faster and easier to use than many 3 antenna beacons

BCA T2
Tracker 2 Beacon
Simple, reliable and very fast. Recommended to rescue teams

BCA T3
Tracker 3 Beacon
The best and smallest Transceiver on the market.  Signal supression feature for multiple victim searching.

Ortovox 3+   
3+ Beacon
"Beast" Shovel
Economic 240 Probe
If you like "flagging" multi victims. Flagging is not reliable in any beacon but this one is better than most

Ortovox Safety Set
 “Zoom” Beacon
"Badger" Shovel
Economic 240 Probe


We are also agents and a refill centre for the BCA "Float" airbag system. These are discounted to patrollers and those working in high risk environments.  Phone for a quotation.