Avalanche Rescue Summary

An avalanche dog searches for two victims

This page summarizes the process of rescuing an avalanche victim. The rescue process doesn't need to be as linear as shown in this outline—most of this process is straightforward and one task flows into the next.

  1. Be Prepared
  2. During the Avalanche
  3. Get Organized
  4. Locate the Victim with Your Avalanche Transceiver
  5. Locate the Victim with Your Probe (read the details)
    • Hold your probe at 90° relative to the snow
    • Probe every 25 cm (10 inches) in expanding circles
    • Leave the probe in place after locating the victim

  6. Excavate the Victim with Your Shovel (read the details)
    • Position multiple shovelers based on the number of rescuers
    • Start downhill of the probe approximately 1.5 times the burial depth
    • Shovel the snow to the sides first
    • Change shovelers frequently

  7. Provide Medical Care
    • Access the patient's airway as quickly as possible
    • Remove all snow from the head to the belt-line
    • Manage the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, Circulation)
    • Prevent further heat loss
    • Stabilize traumatic injuries

  8. Transport the Patient
    • Use an improvised sled or outside resources

These skills are perishable! Practice frequently with friends who want to improve their rescue skills. Be sure to practice all of these skills and not just the transceiver search—keep it fun!