No matter how good you are at searching with a transceiver, if you don't have a probe and shovel the victim will probably die—the transceiver leads to the probe, the probe leads to the shovel, and the shovel leads to the victim.
During training, it is easy to get so focused on the time that it takes to locate the victim using your avalanche transceiver that you forget that excavating the victim is the most time-consuming portion of most avalanche rescues. Just as it is important to practice using your avalanche transceiver, it is important to practice shoveling.
The initial goal of shoveling is to expose the patient's airway and to remove snow from the patient's torso ("brow to belt") so they can breathe.
It is important that you practice shoveling—it's the most time-consuming part of a rescue! And be sure to practice rapidly deploying your shovel every time you practice using your transceiver.
There are two basic shoveling strategies. Which one you choose should be based on the number of rescuers available. These strategies are explained on the following pages.
Companion shoveling is appropriate when there are a limited number of rescuers—typically one to four. It moves the most snow with the least effort. When you have more resources (i.e., more rescuers, more muscle, and more calories to burn), conveyor belt shoveling will blast through a large amount of snow rapidly.