Call for Help?

When to call for additional help is a frequently debated topic. In some locales (e.g., Europe), where a helicopter is nearby, warmed up, and ready to go, it might be possible for rescuers to arrive in time to help extricate an avalanche victim. However, knowing that only 40% of avalanche victims survive a 15-minute burial, every minute you delay the victim's extraction while summoning help is time wasted.

Recovering an Avalanche Victim

The bottom line is that you should call for help when it won't adversely affect the victim's survival. That's a simple statement, but knowing when that moment arrives is situationally dependent:

Keep in mind that even if you postpone calling for help, it is extremely likely that you will need assistance providing medical care and transporting the victim. Don't delay the call excessively: call for help as soon as it won't adversely affect the victim's survival.

When you are ambling along a skin track, it's wise to ask yourself, or your partners, "If an avalanche happened right now, when should we call for help?" Asking yourself this before you need to make a decision will reduce the difficulty of answering it when you do.

When calling for help (in the USA, dial 911), be sure to tell the dispatcher:

After providing the necessary information, hang up your phone and rescue your partner.