As part of avalanche awareness, one must know the pieces of equipment being used in avalanche rescue. It is essential for a rescuer, especially for a beginner, to know how and when to use each of them so as he or she will be well-equipped and prepared in times of disasters. The following are the different pieces of Avalanche Rescue & Safety Equipment:
If a person is buried deep in the snow, one can only find him or her if he or she has a transceiver, a device that transmits and receives signal through frequency emission. It is the most practical and realistic way of locating a buried person. However, if you are a victim of an avalanche, you must remember to set your beacon to transmit and not to receive signals since everyone else in your group are set to receive frequencies from you. You must always keep in mind that every member of your party must have a transceiver to be able to receive or transmit signals if ever accidents happen. A beacon is the most commonly used rescue device and it is also the standard equipment for ski area patrollers and heli-ski operators.
If you have a beacon but do not have a shovel at hand to dig out a person from the snow, your efforts will be useless. There are two types of shovel: the plastic and the aluminum. They are both lightweight and compact enough to be carried even on a long travel. Shovels are really helpful in rescuing avalanche victims for these can speed up the digging process for up to ten times. Aside from digging, a shovel can also be buried to serve as an anchor, a thing to sit on instead of sitting on snow, or a tool to unstuck a snow mobile. You can also use it as a foot gear when you lose a ski. Some folks worry that the plastic ones will break, though it is more practical to carry a plastic one than the aluminum type. Shovel is very essential – it should be in your ‘things to bring’ list, especially when traveling in an avalanche-prone mountain.
Probes are like tent poles used to poke around when looking for a victim who does not have visible clues on the surface. An avalanche probe usually consists of two feet long tubular steels (known as poles) which are joined together. Probes are also useful in looking for a good place to dig a snow pit and can also be used to feel the buried snow layers as well as assess snow bridges over crevasses. Avalanche probes are life savers of those victims who usually do not carry beacons with them.
Being familiar with these pieces of equipment is very helpful in conducting rescue operations. In crucial times such as rescuing avalanche victims, the least you need is a person who does not know how to operate such things. Remember that the life of a person does not only depend on the equipment but more so, on the rescuers.