ISSW / IKAR 2014 Updates

International Snow Science Workshop – 2014

More than 800 avalanche professionals and academics attended the International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW) in Banff, Canada in early October. While the majority of participants were from North America, about one-third came from Europe, Asia, Australia-New Zealand and even one from Africa.

The ISSW theme is to merge theory and practice. The workshop offers a unique opportunity where practitioners (ski patrollers, guides, rescuers, forecasters and the like) and researchers and scientists come together as equals to learn from one another.

In line with the workshop’s theme “a merging of theory and practice” the oral presentations, posters and papers (215 of them) have plenty of information that can be applied by avalanche rescuers. The workshop’s last day was dedicated to avalanche education, accidents, rescue technology, and survival. ISSW is an important venue for RECCO to visit with many avalanche professionals and rescuers from around the world.

The next ISSW will be held in 2016 in Breckenridge, Colorado (US), and will be followed by Innsbruck (AT) in 2018.

International Commission for Alpine Rescue – 2014 (345 words)

Following the ISSW leaders from mountain rescue organizations from around the world met in warm and sunny east shore of Lake Tahoe (US) for the 66th annual congress of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (IKAR-CISA). Some 300 rescuers met to share knowledge, techniques and equipment to improve the effectiveness and safety of mountain rescue. Delegates shared information in various sub-commissions, including avalanche rescue, terrestrial rescue, air rescue, and medical.

Despite the lack of snow (expected) the pre-conference workshop provided active hands-on participation and training for 180 rescuers, all leaders from their national organizations on six aspects of avalanche rescue: field treatment of hypothermia, victim triage, mass casualty incidents, RECCO technology, transceivers, and probing.

IKAR - Octoer 2014

The RECCO technology station focused on how to prepare properly to search. Distracting signals can cause trouble for the not prepared and not practiced detector operator. After a brief introduction to the sources of distracting signals, each large group was separated into small teams of 5 or 6 rescuers. With detectors the small teams practiced preparing to search, which included practicing separation, self-scans, blocking, and shielding. In December, look for some new training videos at > login that will present useful tips for managing distracting signals. Username: “pro” and password: “avalanche”.

RECCO was visible throughout the congress. Our technology was mentioned in several case reports; Manual Genswein (CH) provided an unofficial, informative and practical talk based on his experiences with using detectors on the ground and from helicopters to the Terrestrial and Avalanche Commission. Genswein stressed the importance of being systematic in preparation to search from both the ground and from helicopters. In the plenary session Bruno Jelk (Zermatt, CH) shared some preliminary and positive results of their field tests of RECCO technology for the long-range search for lost people from helicopters. RECCO’s Dale Atkins (US) presented Sweden’s Vision Zero approach to road safety and how it might be applied to mountain-rescuer safety.

Over the next several months many national mountain rescue organizations will post reports of the activities of the congress. Contact your national organization for more information.

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