The white angels
Avalanche course with Bründl Sports
In the world of mountain rescue, there is a time window of 15 minutes. A quarter of an hour, and after that, the chances dwindle of recovering somebody alive from an avalanche. 15 minutes go quickly, you just have to read the long version of Markus Amon’s CV. The short version goes like this: qualified nurse, paramedic, mountain and ski guide, Army mountain guide and Army air rescuer, mountain rescuer, air rescuer, now HCM Operation Manager, i.e. executive air rescuer of Christophorus Flugrettung. Under “Miscellaneous”: high-altitude mountaineer and extreme skier.
The climb to the avalanche course
In the hostile environment of the Himalayas, where acclimatisation and adaptation give the body enough to cope with, and every assistance could endanger your own life, it’s every man for himself. Closer to home, however, the success of an operation depends to a large extent on the reaction of your workmates.
Amon says: “It’s like cooking. It’s only with the right ingredients that you can achieve the optimum result.” Fred adds: “The only thing that really helps is comradeship.” And, of course, the indispensable tools: an avalanche probe, a shovel and an avalanche transceiver. Thomas calls them “the holy three”.
“No movement is arbitrary. Every detail can be the difference between life and death.
The trio at Langwiedboden have now set up a typical scenario. It shows how to locate an avalanche victim, to pinpoint him/her with the probe, which is up to four metres long, and digital detectors –to then be able to carefully dig the victim free. No movement is arbitrary. Every detail can save a life. Are the mouth and nostrils clear, does the patient have an air pocket so that he/she does not suffocate? Is the avalanche transceiver sending interference signals that are making the search more difficult?
Or are there even indications such as a ski pole sticking out of the snow cover, which can lead directly to the avalanche victim. And finally: Are the head and spine stable, is a place sheltered from the wind available? If the patient cannot be evacuated on the akia, or rescue toboggan, Amon attaches the chest belt or rescue bag to him/her. This allows the patient to be evacuated in the helicopter, either seated or lying down. “Every movement must be spot on”, Amon says, including, and especially with gloves.