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Mobile phones and avalanche transceivers

 Poster: A snowHead
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Don't know how many are aware, but tests show that there can be significant interference from mobile phones and other electrical devices when in close proximity to a beacon in search mode, thus giving misleading directions..... I've had personal experience of this on a transceiver refresher where some were running around like headless chickens until all the phones were turned off!
I've done several avalanche awareness sessions and none of them mentioned this, also skied with guides loads of times and only once was it mentioned.
So, the recommendation is for a minimum distance between your "electronic device" and beacon of 20cm when in transmit mode and 50cm in search mode (normally achieved by holding the beacon at arm's length)
All tests showed the interference only affected beacons in search mode, so if you got buried and your gps/phone/gopro was in close proximity to the beacon, it shouldn't be an issue!
Good practice also once the initial rescue call has been made for all phones etc to be turned off during the search phase
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Yes, it is a known effect, that can easily be demonstrated, simply by putting your phone next to your searching transceiver.

Heated gloves also do the same thing.
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Yup. Phone off or (preferably) airplane mode. Depends on conditions and aspect etc but phone best kept in pack in airplane mode at the least!
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On a mountain safety course a few years ago one of the guys in my group failed his avalanche search test because he was carrying two mobile phones which threw his transceiver in to disarray when he was search for two buried 'victims'.
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One of the useful things I learnt from the experienced Gnarls on the first GnaBug....phone is always in the backpack now.
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This was brought home to me when having just bought my transceiver I was experimenting with it in a Travel lodge while passing the time working away from home. I was surprised to pick up a signal from one of the other rooms, the likelihood of another saddo with a transceiver in the same hotel seemed very remote.
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In Canada it's standard practice to turn phones etc off or to flight mode. Also warnings about heated gloves etc are very common. That's been so for several years - if some guides aren't aware of that... I'd be a bit worried about them.
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I have to say, the obvious difficulty with this whole thing is that in an avalanche situation, a mobile phone is going to probably be just as useful in the bigger picture, as the searchers' transceiver(s). Calling in rescue ASAP is going to be vital to saving lives, there's no point finding your casualty who's been buried for some time, to only call mountain rescue at that point. You're now sitting on your hands for half an hour.

There is not an unprecedented fashion that electronics - even solid state ones - tend to break most often either when they're being turned on or turned off. Stuff fails the least when it's just idling. So there's not any particular stupidity - especially when using your phone below the minimum temperature that it's rated for (most smartphones are 0 or 5 C) - in wanting to keep your phone switched on. I don't like the idea of making the initial call and switching the phone off either - MR should be able to contact you, and you should be able to contact them again as the situation develops. A phone remaining switched on can also be located very accurately if it has a data connection, and fairly accurately even just from triangulation.

So for me I'm not against keeping a phone on in principle. I guess that really the focus just needs to be on good isolation.
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dp wrote:
I have to say, the obvious difficulty with this whole thing is that in an avalanche situation, a mobile phone is going to probably be just as useful in the bigger picture, as the searchers' transceiver(s). Calling in rescue ASAP is going to be vital to saving lives, there's no point finding your casualty who's been buried for some time, to only call mountain rescue at that point. You're now sitting on your hands for half an hour.


That would probably be the time to start some First Aid. At a minimum, prevent further heat loss and keep the airway clear. If the victim isn't breathing then commence CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) following normal ERC (European Resuscitation Council ) guidelines. In cases of a long burial time, over an hour, then the protocol is not to start CPR (or where core temperature is below 30'c which is clearly a judgement for the professional rescue to take).

As with all CPR scenarios, it needs to be continuous but in this instance some interruption may be inevitable to facilitate evacuation. It's worth bearing in mind that helicopters come equipped with some extremely advance rewarming and advanced life support. The response time might vary, 30 minutes is certainly possible, at the quicker end I called one (for another group) in the summer and timed it at 6 minutes for a non-critical but non-mobile casualty. Generally, every minute delayed calling for that support dramatically reduces survival chances. For example, data shows that effective CPR needs to be started within 4 minutes of any cardiac arrest. If you're within sight of a ski station then they may come with defib, giving shocks on scene is included for ALS level 3 responders I think.

An avalanche burial is a massively traumatic event often without good outcomes, the earliest possible intervention by ALS providers is quite vital so you need to be making a call ASAP. Acquiring some BLS skills may be a good investment in the safety of your companions.


dp wrote:
There is not an unprecedented fashion that electronics - even solid state ones - tend to break most often either when they're being turned on or turned off. Stuff fails the least when it's just idling. So there's not any particular stupidity - especially when using your phone below the minimum temperature that it's rated for (most smartphones are 0 or 5 C) - in wanting to keep your phone switched on. I don't like the idea of making the initial call and switching the phone off either - MR should be able to contact you, and you should be able to contact them again as the situation develops. A phone remaining switched on can also be located very accurately if it has a data connection, and fairly accurately even just from triangulation.

So for me I'm not against keeping a phone on in principle. I guess that really the focus just needs to be on good isolation.


The guidelines are that phones (and some other electronics) should not be used within 25m of an active search.

philwig wrote:
In Canada it's standard practice to turn phones etc off or to flight mode. Also warnings about heated gloves etc are very common. That's been so for several years - if some guides aren't aware of that... I'd be a bit worried about them.


Only during an actual search, in send mode there should be about 20cm separation, interference falls off quite quickly in a nonlinear fashion. Typically you might double that value to allow for settling and repositioning during the activity or the incident. There really aren't going to be any professionals who don't know this, they're just maybe not overcautious compared to the public.

It's also worth bearing in mind that the original reports of interference, late 90's, reflect some concerns that were not substantiated and they were contradicted by more thorough later analysis. Some groups who performed tests did so with a confirmation bias and were able to produce results that were confirmed by their preconceptions but not the laws of physics (which, of course you cannae break). So you will hear advice, or find it, that doesn't reflect the more nuanced understanding now.

More generally, you might be aware of general electromagnetic interference from lift infrastructure and the like. You can't pick where you might do a search but some more care (than I see) is required in picking where people practice and where they do their transceiver checks (somewhat less now with better group checks).


From Manuel Genswein back in 2013, it's fair the say the definitive statement of best practice ..

Quote:

Recommendations for Recreational Users (Short Version)

Avoid wearing clothes with magnetic buttons or larger metallic and/or conductive parts (i.e., heated gloves). Be aware that food, candy, or cigarette box wrapping often includes thin metallic foil! In transmit mode a minimum distance of 20cm must be kept between avalanche rescue transceivers and any metallic object or electronic device. In search mode, keep a minimum distance of 50cm. All equipment on searching rescuers needs to be turned OFF, except radios, cell phones in airplane mode, headlamps without switch power voltage regulator (usually found in high-power devices with external battery packs), wristwatches without radio functions on the wrist, and devices providing backup transmit function in case of a secondary avalanche. All equipment on non-searching rescuers on the avalanche needs to be turned OFF, except cell phones, satellite phones, and PLBs. While a search is in progress, equipment use is restricted to brief emergency calls/messages at a minimum of 25m to the closest searching rescuer, devices providing a backup transmit function in case of a secondary avalanche, and headlamps


You might, in this day and age, consider wrist-worn fitness devices as well of course.
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A final thought, you'll probably see that many professionals tend to carry the same items in the same pockets and positions all the time. That's obviously so they can find stuff but it also reduces the chances of a rogue device causing a problem.

During self-check transceivers do check for interference, they're doing a loopback test over the antennas. For example, on a Mammut this can cause the 457SEND error that is fairly common. This suggests that turning your device on while it's in the harness to see if it passes that check might be a good idea. If you're in a group that might take a bit of management of course and it presents a challenge if you're doing a two-way check which will need the device out of the harness. In that case, you might suggest that the device is turned off after the first part of the check, placed in the harness and then turned on.

i.e. if you keep your phone, GPS, radio etc in the same place then the self-check will give you some confidence things are positioned with some relative safety.
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@ise, thanks for sharing that Genswein material.

I really donít understand why helmet manufacturers are still (or were ever) thinking that magnetic strap buckles are a good thing! I knew they had implications for compasses, but hadn't realised transceivers were affected too.
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ise wrote:


It's also worth bearing in mind that the original reports of interference, late 90's, reflect some concerns that were not substantiated and they were contradicted by more thorough later analysis. Some groups who performed tests did so with a confirmation bias and were able to produce results that were confirmed by their preconceptions but not the laws of physics (which, of course you cannae break). So you will hear advice, or find it, that doesn't reflect the more nuanced understanding now.


I think this was the original report that kicked this all off

http://pistehors.com/news/ski/comments/pisteur-killed-at-pra-loop/index.html

http://pistehors.com/news/ski/comments/digital-avalanche-transceivers-affected-by-mobile-phones/

Dec 25, 2000. If anyone can find anything earlier about the problem please post.

Some tests on the 457 SEND error


http://youtube.com/v/jbt-iIYQdSA

and household devices, for a bit of fun


http://youtube.com/v/DVQ4NK63txM
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When I put fresh batteries in my pulse it detected a signal 52m away. Strange really as I was in my living room in Birmingham. I put it down to phone interference. The phone wasnít close, I guess it could have been any number of things.
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@dp, I think the point is to make the call initially, then turn all the phones off. I was on the same refresher as @KenX, and it was a salutary experience. There were four of us in a line moving down the mountain. Only the searcher on the far left continued down the mountain looking for the buried transceiver, while the other three of us veered off to the right, essentially following the signals coming from each others' phones.

I'd make the call to the emergency services, then switch all phones off until the victim is found.
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Chamcham wrote:
@dp, I think the point is to make the call initially, then turn all the phones off. I was on the same refresher as @KenX, and it was a salutary experience. There were four of us in a line moving down the mountain. Only the searcher on the far left continued down the mountain looking for the buried transceiver, while the other three of us veered off to the right, essentially following the signals coming from each others' phones.

I'd make the call to the emergency services, then switch all phones off until the victim is found.


The main priority is to keep the active devices outside that 25m range. The normal protocol is that phones should be left on after contacting SAR and that you provide multiple contacts if possible. Your judgement will need to be used naturally. But it is not a standard protocol to turn all phones off.
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jbob wrote:
When I put fresh batteries in my pulse it detected a signal 52m away. Strange really as I was in my living room in Birmingham. I put it down to phone interference. The phone wasnít close, I guess it could have been any number of things.


The amplitude of interfering signals will vary. That variation will cause random direction and distance. Probably not a phone in that case. Hence my comments about built environment.

There's an interesting paper on insulin pumps as well, they are a problem. Can't link to it now as I'm out.
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Skim reading there doesn't seem to be a definite conclusion?
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ise wrote:

Recommendations for Recreational Users (Short Version)

Avoid wearing clothes with magnetic buttons or larger metallic and/or conductive parts (i.e., heated gloves). Be aware that food, candy, or cigarette box wrapping often includes thin metallic foil! In transmit mode a minimum distance of 20cm must be kept between avalanche rescue transceivers and any metallic object or electronic device. In search mode, keep a minimum distance of 50cm. All equipment on searching rescuers needs to be turned OFF, except radios, cell phones in airplane mode, headlamps without switch power voltage regulator (usually found in high-power devices with external battery packs), wristwatches without radio functions on the wrist, and devices providing backup transmit function in case of a secondary avalanche. All equipment on non-searching rescuers on the avalanche needs to be turned OFF, except cell phones, satellite phones, and PLBs. While a search is in progress, equipment use is restricted to brief emergency calls/messages at a minimum of 25m to the closest searching rescuer, devices providing a backup transmit function in case of a secondary avalanche, and headlamps


That bit about a minimum of 20cm separation from any metallic object is pretty much impossible when skiing glaciers and therefore wearing harnesses from which you will have dangling various bits of metal; carabiners, ice screws etc. I don't know of any safe way to carry a transceiver that will put it 20cm away from your waist.
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Iíve never done a real search only practice.
A couple of obvious problems Iíve had; interference from nearby lifts, or more accurately people on the lifts with transceivers, and way way more frustrating, members of the group failing to switch from transmit. These may seem schoolboy errors and they are however I suspect in the stress of an avalanche these and many more issues would arise.
I guess what Iím saying reinforces the need for more practice, including doing one whenever skiing with a new bunch of people.
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@Layne, indeed. Seems that you need a phone to be on to contact emergency services (and due to that Iíd rather always have phone on and not in flight safe, to make as quick as possible), but you also need phones off to be able to search. If youíre in a small group then itís vital that everyone is doing something productive so I guess leave phones on and keep transceiver as far away from phone as feasible.

Is there much effect on the transmit or others receiving weird signals? I currently keep my phone in jacket pocket, right next to transceiver, and donít want it to be causing issues if I ever get buried.
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KenX wrote:
Good practice also once the initial rescue call has been made for all phones etc to be turned off during the search phase


Is this what you were explicitly told?

I can understand that maybe if you were just a pair skiing, one trapped but as soon as there is more than one searcher, that seems madness. Maybe Iím out of date but I was under the impression that maintaining an open line of contact with the rescue/emergency services was the done thing.
In a group with multiple searchers, one person moves away and phones the incident in and acts as spotter whilst the rest turn off phones and start searching. Is this no longer what is taught?
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MadMountainMan wrote:
ise wrote:

Recommendations for Recreational Users (Short Version)

Avoid wearing clothes with magnetic buttons or larger metallic and/or conductive parts (i.e., heated gloves). Be aware that food, candy, or cigarette box wrapping often includes thin metallic foil! In transmit mode a minimum distance of 20cm must be kept between avalanche rescue transceivers and any metallic object or electronic device. In search mode, keep a minimum distance of 50cm. All equipment on searching rescuers needs to be turned OFF, except radios, cell phones in airplane mode, headlamps without switch power voltage regulator (usually found in high-power devices with external battery packs), wristwatches without radio functions on the wrist, and devices providing backup transmit function in case of a secondary avalanche. All equipment on non-searching rescuers on the avalanche needs to be turned OFF, except cell phones, satellite phones, and PLBs. While a search is in progress, equipment use is restricted to brief emergency calls/messages at a minimum of 25m to the closest searching rescuer, devices providing a backup transmit function in case of a secondary avalanche, and headlamps


That bit about a minimum of 20cm separation from any metallic object is pretty much impossible when skiing glaciers and therefore wearing harnesses from which you will have dangling various bits of metal; carabiners, ice screws etc. I don't know of any safe way to carry a transceiver that will put it 20cm away from your waist.


watch the Mammut video I posted above and stop worrying.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Mon 8-01-18 17:11; edited 1 time in total
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I'm trying to recall what was the modus operandi taught on the week long EAS course I did a few years back re mobiles, but there again since I did it new information might have come to light?

What was indeed for sure, depending on the size of the group that might come across an incident, was that one person has to take charge and assign responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is for one person to try and communicate ASAP with Rescue Services.

In fact it's a real catch 22 as to what to do first search or contact.

Think as I've mentioned before the final day and exam was made up of snow profiling in the morning and then a played out scenario in which you're part of a group of six skiing down and you don't know where or when but you come across an incident that that is very real.

You don't know how many are caught in it but various bits of gear are spread out over an area and one guy/survivor is running around like a headless chicken and you're trying to extract information and detail from them as to how many might be trapped.

We as a group then start the search after quickly assigning responsibilities and trust me it's pretty damn stressful and adrenaline is running at 110%.

And what is interesting going back to the OP is that I don't think we were told to switch off phones, but I'm pretty damn sure it makes sense to do so only leaving one person to be managing comms.

Not too sure either what the issue is if the victim(s) have their phones on ?

All though I know that really you should go into airplane mode when off piste in suspect conditions most of us do not.

Essentially when you're in territory that requires you to spread out at safe intervals that's when whilst you're waiting that's the time to switch the phone into airplane mode, but obviously that's on the UP.

I really should ping Steve Jones / Mark Diggins an email to ask what is the best procedure.
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Weathercam wrote:

What was indeed for sure, depending on the size of the group that might come across an incident, was that one person has to take charge and assign responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is for one person to try and communicate ASAP with Rescue Services.
In fact it's a real catch 22 as to what to do first search or contact.

Not too sure either what the issue is if the victim(s) have their phones on ?

All though I know that really you should go into airplane mode when off piste in suspect conditions most of us do not.


If it's just you and your buddy, I would search first, the victim may have no airway...
3-4+ then it makes sense to get a "foreman" organised oversee the rescue, communicate and keep an eye out for more slides.
The transmitting signal doesn't seem to be noticeably affected.
Airplane mode still affects the searching beacon, although some phones generate more interference than others, I think iPhones are guilty of this, that's if the battery hasn't gone flat.........
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KenX wrote:
.....Airplane mode still affects the searching beacon, although some phones generate more interference than others, I think iPhones are guilty of this, that's if the battery hasn't gone flat.........


Beat me to it Toofy Grin

Sent this email.........

Mark / Steve

Few years back I did the course in La Grave - you might recall I live in Serre Che and you certainly will have an interesting snow pack for you next week for the course!

Maybe it's my mature years but I don't seem to recall if there was any hard and fast rules back then re mobile phones and how they might interfere with transceivers.

Is there any protocol now that is the accepted modus operandi - obviously the most sensible option is to switch phone to Air-plane mode but has that been research / tested ?
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Chamcham wrote:
@dp, I think the point is to make the call initially, then turn all the phones off. I was on the same refresher as @KenX, and it was a salutary experience. There were four of us in a line moving down the mountain. Only the searcher on the far left continued down the mountain looking for the buried transceiver, while the other three of us veered off to the right, essentially following the signals coming from each others' phones.

I'd make the call to the emergency services, then switch all phones off until the victim is found.


I politely disagree. You need to have 2-way communications open with mountain rescue. They might be late for a particular reason, they might not be able to find you, you might need to tell them that your situation has changed. You can't afford to make the call and then switch your phone off.

The only sensible compromise I can see is that if there's a group of you, somebody takes responsibility of being the phone person and steps out of the way of the search. If I was on my own, I'd be very hesitant to switch my phone off in that situation.

I think there is a tendency to think more hands on deck means more chance of finding somebody. Which is true. But you want to be able to provide somebody with the followup care if you find them. Even without ise's reference to long term burials and CPR, people can get hypothermia very quickly especially when coupled with shock. I'm not saying I'm necessarily 'right' per se, but just that it's a difficult toss up that seems like you're bollocksed either way.
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@Weathercam, Mark Diggins live on BBC2 right now on the great British winter!
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I did an Avalanche Academy course in Chamonix last year. We did OK on the multiple search scenario, but was told that we could have done better if we had immediately designated a leader, who would have stayed at the top of the incident directing the others.
I believe, if you witness someoneís head go under or suspect it, (or someone goes down a crevasse) that warrants a call to the pghm or whoever asap. When skiing in groups of peers it seems a little off for someone to jump in and take control but that is whatís best and maybe should be discussed at the start of the day. Provide thereís enough in the group, then the leader who should be at the top of the slope where they can see all thatís going on if possible, could make the call while others start the search, also they could keep their phone switched on being sufficient distance away. If youíre a two or a three then itís a different scenario. I did need to call the pghm the year before last (not an avalanche) and was indeed called back twice.
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MadMountainMan wrote:

That bit about a minimum of 20cm separation from any metallic object is pretty much impossible when skiing glaciers and therefore wearing harnesses from which you will have dangling various bits of metal; carabiners, ice screws etc. I don't know of any safe way to carry a transceiver that will put it 20cm away from your waist.


I'm sure we've all got different body types and there's no standard one Very Happy But, I have to say that the chest harness of my transceiver is well above my harness and the gear hanging off that harness is below. For me, that's easily 40-50cm. As I commented, turning the device on in the harness and letting the self-test run from that position may give you some reassurance. Maybe having a big chest or stomach is the way to go Happy

galpinos wrote:

I can understand that maybe if you were just a pair skiing, one trapped but as soon as there is more than one searcher, that seems madness. Maybe Iím out of date but I was under the impression that maintaining an open line of contact with the rescue/emergency services was the done thing.
In a group with multiple searchers, one person moves away and phones the incident in and acts as spotter whilst the rest turn off phones and start searching. Is this no longer what is taught?


That's well put. That is indeed the normal protocol for outdoor incidents in general. The confusion, if indeed there is any, comes from people countering with the special case of two persons. That is a special case even if it's a common one. We have ideas around safe group size for reasons of incident management.

Even in the special case, the sooner professional help and advanced life support arrive the better.

jbob wrote:
Iíve never done a real search only practice.
A couple of obvious problems Iíve had; interference from nearby lifts, or more accurately people on the lifts with transceivers,


Piecing together what goes wrong in mock search scenarios is good fun. In your example, I'd not be quite as quick to dismiss the interference of the lift itself. Some of the issues with transceivers are related to the fact they're near field applications. Some BCA white papers talk about that in some detail.

dp wrote:

I politely disagree. You need to have 2-way communications open with mountain rescue. They might be late for a particular reason, they might not be able to find you, you might need to tell them that your situation has changed. You can't afford to make the call and then switch your phone off.


Exactly, that's the normal incident protocol and applies to avalanches as well.

dp wrote:
Even without ise's reference to long term burials and CPR, people can get hypothermia very quickly especially when coupled with shock. I'm not saying I'm necessarily 'right' per se, but just that it's a difficult toss up that seems like you're bollocksed either way.


You are right though. The most likely scenarios involved casualties recovered with obstructed airways, asphyxia, sudden immersive hypothermia and hypothermic cardiac arrest. These ought to scare people more than they do. Anyone that's sufficiently scared will call for professional help at the first opportunity. And they probably want to get booked onto a BLS course.

Bear in mind, a lot of avalanches courses and training is delivered to people who are in a professional context that includes advanced first aid, incident management and being far from help. Considerations around calling for help and delivering BLS should be fairly well known to them. A recreational user in the same context won't quite be running at the same speed in that regard.

Personally, while I'd like a companion to have transceiver, shovel and probe, I would very, very much like them to have some first aid training as well.
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All good points well made! I should have included in the first post "all phones off except for the leader/foreman" , my bad.....
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Just in from Steve Jones

Re mobile phones..yes they can seriously reduce the range of your DVA even if turned off. Anything metal or with a magnetic field will have the same effect. Need to be at least 20 cm away. I tend to leave my phone on as in an emergency you need it quickly but carry it in my rucksack or in a pocket furthest away from my DVA.

Try putting your phone in an outside pocket, right in front of your DVA on send. Then get someone to do a check (on receive or group check)! The pulse tells you there is a problem.

Best wishes

Steve

Stephen Jones
Guide de Montagne UIAGM
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a useful thread. any thoughts on a simple standard message to relay to rescuers over a phone, in a manner similar to standard Mayday message (i.e. Mayday, name, location , incident details, help required etc)
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hamilton wrote:
a useful thread. any thoughts on a simple standard message to relay to rescuers over a phone, in a manner similar to standard Mayday message (i.e. Mayday, name, location , incident details, help required etc)


Location, location, location Very Happy

http://www.scottishmountainrescue.org/advice/what-information-do-i-need/

The operators run on a script so you can be confident nothing is missed. But knowing you need to locate yourself and describe the incident should help you prepare.

Don't forget, an avalanche is just one thing that might happen while you're out.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
KenX wrote:
All good points well made! I should have included in the first post "all phones off except for the leader/foreman" , my bad.....


May come across as picky but do you mean "all phones off (except for leader/foreman) when skiing off piste" or "all phones off (except for leader/foreman) when avalanche strikes"? I assume the latter as there could be a situation where the designated leader is the one caught.

I'm very new to off piste and even the very basic introduction to an avi situation that we did with Steve Angus at the PSB highlighted how little I know. I was amazed how, even in a situation that wasn't even close to an accurate simulation, we all panicked and did a fairly poor job (even to the extent that 3 of us that weren't initially searching left our transceivers on 'send'). One thing that crossed my mind is how often I ski with people that don't necessarily know where we are in the resort, which can be critical when calling SOS. Phone apps help (the La Plagne one has an SOS button on it which I presume sends location data) but it's made me keener to share names of lifts and pistes with people that I'm skiing with so that they have a better idea of where we are. The scary thing is that I can buy decent kit and practice everything to make my avi recovery technique better, but if it's me that's caught I'm reliant on the equipment and skills of those I'm with.
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SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:
May come across as picky but do you mean "all phones off (except for leader/foreman) when skiing off piste" or "all phones off (except for leader/foreman) when avalanche strikes"? I assume the latter as there could be a situation where the designated leader is the one caught..


Neither of those. No electronic device within 20cm of your transceiver when in transmit mode due to potential interference. When in search mode, nothing closer than 50cm. However, in managing an incident you would try to avoid any potential source of interference within 25m of the search area.

Read back to the advice from Manuel Genswein, he's the expert in this field. He was the lead designer on the Mammut Pulse for example so if you recognise that text from the Mammut manual that's why.

SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:

I'm very new to off piste and even the very basic introduction to an avi situation that we did with Steve Angus at the PSB highlighted how little I know. I was amazed how, even in a situation that wasn't even close to an accurate simulation, we all panicked and did a fairly poor job (even to the extent that 3 of us that weren't initially searching left our transceivers on 'send'). One thing that crossed my mind is how often I ski with people that don't necessarily know where we are in the resort, which can be critical when calling SOS. Phone apps help (the La Plagne one has an SOS button on it which I presume sends location data) but it's made me keener to share names of lifts and pistes with people that I'm skiing with so that they have a better idea of where we are. The scary thing is that I can buy decent kit and practice everything to make my avi recovery technique better, but if it's me that's caught I'm reliant on the equipment and skills of those I'm with.


There are some app's, the REGA one in Switzerland for example that can do that. I suppose Echo112 does something similar but calling 112 is probably a better idea really.
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ise wrote:
Neither of those. No electronic device within 20cm of your transceiver when in transmit mode due to potential interference. When in search mode, nothing closer than 50cm. However, in managing an incident you would try to avoid any potential source of interference within 25m of the search area.


If you're a group of 3 then how does that work? One buried, one searching and one stood at the top with a phone in case the emergency services need to call back?

If there's only two (one buried, one searching) then which is the lesser of two evils? Do you search and keep phone on or do you turn the phone off and hope they don't need to call?

ise wrote:
There are some app's, the REGA one in Switzerland for example that can do that. I suppose Echo112 does something similar but calling 112 is probably a better idea really.


Absolutely! My thinking was that the app would be used in conjunction with a call.

As a slight aside on the information part, there's a basic computer game called 911 operator where you play the role of someone dispatching emergency services. It's good to have a quick play to get an idea of the information required. First question should always be "where are you", then get the details of the emergency.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
The real problem is you're looking for simple rules "if A then do B" and so on. That's not likely to really reflect the range of situations that may occur in the real world.

Even so, that's a fairly simple scenario where one searcher is likely enough. Once the search has located the victim it's not going to make a deal of difference where any of them are. The decision point would primarily be whether one person can effectively search or not, for example in an especially long and/or wide debris field you may need to use two people to effectively search. So there is no answer to your question without knowing more about the incident.

Having, and being to use, transceivers, probes and shovels, are really only a small part of the picture. Expert thinking, which is what you're aspiring to, is about recognising classes of situations and being able to apply various tools and protocols. Someone managing an incident, and an avalanche is not different from a road accident for example, will need to manage competing and often conflicting priorities.

I do appreciate that's not the categoric more binary answer you're looking for but it's just the way it is. If you want a simple lesson from that, if you're going to practice then read a few incident reports (below) to see how the situation is described and try it. Don't just chuck a couple of transceivers into the snow,do define how long and wide the debris is, what happened etc. You'll find different solutions for different scenarios.

https://www.slf.ch/en/avalanches/destructive-avalanches-and-avalanche-accidents/avalanche-accidents-in-current-year.html
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I have a pocket on my trousers that is designed for a transceiver, I've never used it though, keeping it in the shoulder strap thing. If I move it then it will be the correct distance away. Then we start the debate of whether it's safe in a pocket? I guess phone in rucksack is the answer.
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
ise wrote:
The real problem is you're looking for simple rules "if A then do B" and so on. That's not likely to really reflect the range of situations that may occur in the real world.


Exactly.

For example if ski touring there is a serious risk you'll get no signal at all and have to move. In this case the right decision is to dig immediately unless you have free manpower to go down hill.

and to come back to your point about searching, the general rule is 2 searchers for each victim if you want to dig them out in a reasonable time (based on average burial depths)... but if you don't have that manpower you maybe need to get outside help sooner rather than later.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Mon 8-01-18 20:40; edited 1 time in total
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