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Avalanche Deployment Program

Flight For Life Colorado
"Flight For Life is Invaluable"

 
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The Flight For Life® Colorado Avalanche Deployment Program fills an important community need in Colorado

Colorado has 104,427 square miles of terrain, 40 percent of which is mountainous. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), more than one million acres of Colorado is considered avalanche terrain and Colorado leads the nation in fatalities caused by avalanches.

Surviving an avalanche is a race against time:

  • At 15 minutes about nine in 10 people buried in an avalanche survive, but by 30 minutes only 50 percent survive (CAIC).
  • Approximately one in five people buried by an avalanche will survive at two hours, but by three hours, only about one in 30 will survive (CAIC).

What is the Avalanche Deployment Program?

The Avalanche Deployment Program was developed by Flight For Life® Colorado to rapidly deploy an avalanche team to the site of an avalanche where someone has been buried. A rigid training program was initiated to properly train teams to safely operate in and around the aircraft.

Colorado Sheriffs, Search and Rescue (SAR) groups, Ski Patrols and Flight For Life® Colorado recognize a need to save time, energy and precious minutes in the event of an avalanche burial or backcountry rescue. All share the desire to help those injured in the Colorado backcountry get the care they need and get it quickly.

A Relationship That Works

The Avalanche Deployment Program combines the skill, expertise and stamina of SAR and Avalanche teams and the Flight For Life® Colorado helicopter and crew who expedite the rescue of an injured or ill party and evacuate them to approriate medical care.

The Team Players and Their Role in Avalanche Deployment

  • A Level II certified snow tech, (generally located at the local ski patrol) the most senior techs participate in the program. They determine snow conditions at the scene, scene safety and perform a survey of the terrain from the air.
  • Certified Avalanche Dog  Handler, certified through Search And Rescue Dogs Of Colorado (SARDOC) Colorado Rapid Avalanche deployment (CRAD).  Handlers duties include management and handling of avalanche dog in flight and on scene.
  • Avalanche Dog, certified in avalanche recovery (the heart of the program). Dog duties include finding the victim and keeping everyone smiling!

  How the Avalanche Deployment Program Works

  1. Avalanche reported or witnessed burial, missing person, or tracks in and no tracks out.
  2. 911 is phoned, sheriff is notified and requests SAR and Avalanche Deployment.
  3. Flight For Life Communication Center is notified to handle the deployment.
  4. Closest available aircraft is dispatched to pick up the closest avalanche team.
  5. The avalanche team is inserted into the closest and safest proximity to the slide.
  6. After the first insertion, if SAR is requested, the Flight For Life® Colorado helicopter will shuttle in SAR to help extricate the patient. 
  7. Then, medical care is handed over to the Flight For Life® Colorado medical team.

Participants in Avalanche Deployment

  • Alpine Rescue Team
  • Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol
  • Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol
  • Aspen Mountain Rescue
  • Beaver Creek Ski Patrol
  • Breckenridge Ski Patrol
  • Front Range Rescue Dogs
  • Keystone Ski Patrol
  • Lake Eldora Ski Patrol
  • Loveland Ski Patrol
  • Rocky Mountain Rescue Group
  • Ski Cooper / Chicago Ridge
       Snow Cat Tours
  • Snowmass Ski Patrol
  • Summit County Search and Rescue
  • Vail Ski Patrol
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