There are many hazards associated with avalanche incident sites and how responders access and depart those incident sites. All responders must continually assess hazards and control risks to maximize their safety.
The following factors must be continually assessed during an AvSAR response:
Avalanche risk is defined as the probability of harm resulting from interactions between avalanche hazard and an element at risk. It is determined by the exposure of the element and its vulnerability to the avalanche hazard.
Avalanche risk control is accomplished by reducing vulnerability and exposure to hazards, or in some situations reducing hazard using explosives or waiting for conditions to stabilize.
Reducing Vulnerability. In avalanche terms, vulnerability refers to how susceptible a person or object is to harm or damage from an avalanche. Reducing the vulnerability of AvSAR responders may be accomplished by ensuring the following:
Reducing Exposure. Exposure refers to the position of the person or object in relation to the hazard, and the length of time they are exposed to a specific hazard. In AvSAR, exposure can be managed much more easily than vulnerability. Way to reduce exposure include:
Reducing Hazard. In some situations, managing hazards may be necessary prior to allowing access to the incident site. Explosive may be used, or the team may decide to wait for hazards associated with avalanche conditions, time of day, and weather to naturally resolve.
An app was developed for the BC Search and Rescue Association to identify an extensive list of factors in an effort to ensure that they are considered when making decisions that could result in serious injury or death. The app was designed to be used by SAR Managers and Team Leaders and considers both SAR operational risks and response capabilities. It available as an iOS app, as a guide booklet, or as a reference card (see below). As of yet an Android App does not exist.