Thursday, March 23, 2006

Avalanche Air Bag System and Avalungs for Adrenalin Guys not Journalists...

Avalanche Air Bag System and Avalungs for Adrenalin Guys not Journalists...
Yes Michael B. Were is an adrenalin guy and likes Rugby and War but I and other Powder Skiers are adenalin Freaks but I'm prepared with the Avalanche Airbag System pictured here and deployed above and theAvalung, a breathing system which has a C02 exhaust pipe which directs the exhale gas towards your back side so that the air pocket in your face is saturated with this "Deadly Greenhouse Gas" and therefore has a higher perscentage of Oxygen.AvaLung II is a remarkable filtration device that draws air directly from the snowpack, allowing you to breathe if trapped in an avalanche.
Increases the surface area from which you breathe; air is pulled in by a mouthpiece attached directly to the apparatus
Exhaled carbon dioxide is directed out the exhaust tube to ensure fresh air supply and to prevent an ice layer which could seal off the oxygen supply
AvaLung II has repeatedly been shown to provide an air supply to buried test victims
Worn over your clothing, the lightweight sling does not impede breathability or add warmth, so it can be used in all weather conditions
User must be able to get the mouthpiece inserted before avalanche debris restricts movement; snowpack or injury can prevent its use
As with avalanche beacons, AvaLung II is not a substitute for wise assessment of hazardous avalanche terrain
Snowmobiler Saved by ABS-Avalanche Airbag System
Big Elk Mountain, Idaho (Ski Press)-On Jan 08, 2003 seven snowmobilers triggered a Class 2 avalanche at an elevation of 9500 feet while sledding on Big Elk Mountain in Idaho.One victim was carried away by the slide. He was equipped with an abs avalanche mono airbag which was released after a few seconds when the victim realized his predicament. Before activating the ABS, the victim disappeared in the snow twice. After pulling the ABS he stayed on top until the slide stopped. The crown line of the slide was up to 3 feet."A heck of a product" was the victims first reaction. His personal account is that it performed flawlessly.More than 50 people (most of them in Europe) have been saved so far by the ABS. This is the first American incident and the first on involving a snowmobiler. The ABS is designed to prevent
"1. What is it exactly that the ABS is able to do?
The ABS keeps you on the surface in case of a running avalanche
It prevents you from getting buried under the snow mass.
It prevents complete burial. Most of the avalanches in which
alpine skiers can get caught are running avalanches and they
are mostly released by the skiers themselves. Most avalanche
victims do survive the actual fall in the avalanche. However,
approximately half of these victims are completely submerged.
Three out of four (75%) of the completely buried victims have
a blocked airway or are unable to breath properly due to the
enormous pressure on their chest. In a situation like this the
victim will survive for only a few minutes. After a maximum of
fifteen minutes the chances of survival drop drastically. The
Avalanche Airbag prevents the burial. The avalanche will drag
you with it but you will stay on the surface and therefore have
the best chance to survive.
2. How does the ABS work?
The avalanche is a moving mass of snow. It consists of many tiny snow crystals, which start a powerful rotation once the
avalanche is moving downwards. In this rotation all bodies which
are larger than the snow crystals will automatically be pushed
to the surface. However, on the surface area the rotation slows
down as does the buoyancy and it is then important that the
volume of the skier at least equals the volume of the avalanche
snow at the same mass and weight. The snow of a powder
avalanche in mid winter has approximately 2.5 times the volume
per kilogram weight, as does the volume of a person. The numbers
are as follows: one kilogram of powder snow has a volume of approx.
2.5 litres. One kilogram of a person has a volume of 1.03 litres,
a little more than a litre. A person at 100 kg therefore has a
volume of 103 litres. However, 100 kilograms of mid winter
avalanche snow have a volume of 250 litres. In order to swim on
top of this avalanche snow the person needs 100 kilograms of
weight and a volume of 250 litre.
The Avalanche Airbag can handle such extreme situations. It
has a volume of 150 litres and is therefore able to make up
for the missing volume of a person weighing 100 kilograms.
The skier is no longer able to sink into the avalanche. Without
the Airbag he/she would sink down immediately after the buoyancy
effect has pushed him/her to the surface. To put it simply: the buoyancy dynamic due to the rotation of the snow crystals pushes the victim to the surface. The airbag
makes up for the missing volume and therefore prevents the burial. (For your personal information: This buoyancy phenomena, caused
by the snow particles, is also the reason why only half of the
victims are buried, they are the lucky ones who, as soon as
they reach the surface are pushed out of the avalanche either
by terrain formations or other circumstances and therefore escape burial).
3. The Airbag may work in powder conditions but nobody has a
chance in heavy snow! In heavy snow the opposite is the case. The heavier the snow
the more dense it is and the smaller the volume. Typically wet
spring snow weighs 500 or 600 grams per litre. This means its
volume is now just under 2 times greater than that of a person.
Therefore the Airbag could have less volume or be smaller. From
this point of view the wet spring snow is much less difficult than
the dry, cold powder snow. It is a fact, however, that the chance of injury increases with
wet spring snow. It has to be taken into consideration that most of the avalanches are triggered by the skiers themselves and the
power of the snow is therefore relatively weak. The dangerous
mechanical pressure of a wet avalanche can be as much as several
tons pressing on the body does not exist on the surface. The wet
avalanche is therefore less dangerous for the ABS-user.
4. What happens if I get caught in an avalanche in the valley or
at the bottom of a run? If the skier is already down in the valley and the avalanche comes
thundering down his chances of survival are zero even with
the Airbag. The masses of snow literally strike the victim down
and bury it. With 30 or 40 meters above the valley bottom and
an avalanche release 200 to 300 meters up, the survival chance
is still minimal. Zero without the Airbag and slightly greater
with the Airbag if the avalanche has a good runout. In this
case it is possible to stay on top with the ABS and only receive
injuries due to the impact of the snow masses. All in all it must be said that this situation represents less than
5% of all avalanches involving skiers.
5. Have skiers already been saved with the ABS? Yes, there are already approx. 70 documented cases where
without a doubt the ABS saved lives. One can assume that this
figure would be much higher if the unreported cases were included.
6. I have to trigger the ABS by myself. Do you think everyone is
capable of doing so in an avalanche situation? The only thing which needs practise is the pulling of the trigger.
In order to do so it is important that it has been installed
properly. The trigger must be located between the chest
and the clavicle at all times. The Velcro straps should hold it
in place so that it is always easily accessible. The activation strength is approx. 8 kg.
7. What happens if the trigger gets caught somewhere? The Airbag will inflate automatically.
8. How can I prevent unwanted activation? The trigger should only be put in place when the person is
ready to go skiing. We strictly recommend that the trigger
is always stored in the waist pocket when not in use. An
additional safety measure is the red Velcro strap at the trigger.
The compact system (mechanical activation) requires the red
trigger ring to be fastened with the red Velcro strap which needs
to be loosened when in use. Otherwise more strength is needed for
activation. With the compact system it is also recommended to remove the
cartridge after skiing and store it separately with the protective cap.
9. Is the additional safety belt absolutely necessary? It is the regulation as per the manual. If the hip belt is not fastened
properly the backpack could be pulled over the head when caught
in an avalanche. The additional safety belts which of course also have to be tightened
will prevent this from happening. A really tight hip belt, however, is sufficient in most cases.
10. Does the cartridge always remain attached? It may stay attached. It should be weighed once in a while to
ensure that it is still full. It is recommended to do this before
each season.
11. How will I know whether the cartridge or trigger handle is
filled? How will I know whether the cartridge or trigger handle is filled?
The cartridge can be checked by unscrewing the safety cap and
\checking the little sealing disc. If the cartridge has been pierced
it will be easily visible. However, the possibility that the cartridge
may not have a proper seal cannot be disregarded. The cartridge
is under immense pressure. A hairline fracture, a defect seal or
thread could cause a leak or loss in pressure and therefore the
apparatus would malfunction.It is therefore a must to check the weight. Each cartridge
shows the weight on a sticker.Should the weight differ by more than 5g, the cartridge
should not be used.With the trigger handle of the dual system the pin, which
attaches to the pressurised hose must be affixed tightly.
This can be checked by pulling slightly with your fingers.
Most importantly a red band on the pin should not be visible as it is an indicator that the handle has already been activated.
Attention! Do not under any circumstances pullout the pin with pliers or your teeth. This could have
serious consequences.
14. The cartridges and trigger handles are refillable. Can
the cartridges be purchased at camping gas dealers?
12. Is it advisable to carry an extra cartridge with a
trigger handle? Absolutely. In case of emergency you should not wait until
you've been caught in the avalanche before activating the ABS.
The trigger handle should be pulled as soon as there is a
chance you could have released a slab. If this does not result
in an avalanche all the better. You have reacted properly
and activated the cartridge. In order to make the ABS
functional again you need the extra cartridge with trigger
handle. Cartridge and trigger handle are one unit, without
the trigger handle the cartridge cannot be activated and
an activated trigger handle without a full cartridge cannot
fill up the airbags. Only with the compact system is the
cartridge enough.
13. Does the ABS need maintenance and if so at what time
intervals? Does the ABS need maintenance and if so at what time
intervals? The ABS is an article of rescue equipment which
in the case of an emergency decides over life and death.
The manufacturer recommends sending the ABS in every
two years for a general check up. It is also recommended
to do a trial activation with a full cartridge before eachseason.The activation process should then be monitored closely, the
proper sealing of the airbag and the general state of the
complete ABS system must also be checked. The two year
maintenance program includes a test to check the general
functioning, changing of the seals and a thorough check
of the whole system. The cartridges and trigger handles can only be filled by the
manufacturer. Replacement cartridges and trigger handles
are only available where the ABS is sold. This also applies
in foreign countries.
15. Are there ice-up problems with the trigger handle of the
dual system, with attaching the pin to the pressurised hose
or with the activation itself ? No - unless you create an ice-up yourself. Care should be taken though to protect the Velcro closures
at the adapter of the pressurised hose, no matter whether
the trigger handle is attached or not. It is also important to
handle the trigger handle with care and to avoid any soiling
of the pin or its opening. Should it get dirty do not attempt
to clean it yourself as you could provoke an unwanted activation
and possibly cause an accident, replace the handle instead.
You will only be charged for a refill. Please also note that the trigger handle must not be
attached unless a filled cartridge has been screwed in.
Should the system be activated without a cartridge
the prick system will be damaged and the whole
system may therefore malfunction. If it happened anyway,
send the ABS backpack in for a complete check up.
16. The cartridges for the dual system are different
on the use of the Avalanche Airbag. Because only the
victom who is not buried will be able to help a fellow skier."

from the ones for the compact system, why is that and
would it be possible to interchange them? The cartridges for the dual system are different from the
ones for the compact system, would it be possible to
interchange them?It is clearly marked on the cartridges in which system
they have to be used. The cartridges for the dual system
are shorter, fatter, uniform in shape and are bronze
in colour. The cartridges for the compact system are
black, longer and of a non-uniform shape. Both cartridges
have a different thread and only fit with the appropriate
17. Can the ABS be taken into the airplane?
What about heliskiing?
The backpack itself does not pose a problem. Problems
arise with the gas cartridges. Every pressurised container
is regarded as dangerous goods by the IATA and has to
be declared as such. This means the airline company has
to be informed a few days before departure in order to
be checked in as carry on luggage or checked in luggage. Generally there are no problems with heliskiing in Europe
and in the Caucasus (there the company supplies the airbag).
With the Dual System the trigger handle should be removed
\in order to avoid accidental or wilful activation in the cabin.
No ABS backpacks should be kept near the pilot. An
accidental activation in the back part of the cabinresulted in no harm to the unbuckled ABS-user nor the
helicopter. To this date
Klondike Heliskiing in Atlin/BC is the only
heliski company which uses the ABS and offers it to their
clients free of charge. All other heliski operators do not
equip their guests with the ABS system. It may take
some time until these highly successful operators start
to equip their guests with this very effective safety
device and upgradeto European standards.
18. Once I have purchased an ABS do I still need a
transceiver? This is not a question about whether or not to have a
transceiver, this is a question of priorities from the
point of view of the avalanche victim. So far the thinking
has been from the perspective of the rescuer. All activity
comes from the outside and the avalanche victim stays
passive. In this case the time factor is the biggest
challenge. In locating the victims the transceivers are
the best. However, no advances have been made to
reduce the time it takes to dig the victim out. The
only aid is the shovel. This reduces the chances of a
successful rescue immensely and the fact remains
that 2/3 of all totally submerged victims are dead
at the time of rescue. Every form of outside help is therefore considered
a Band-Aid solution, the last of all possibilities. Even Transceivers and shovels are aids to rescue others but
in no way are they a prevention of one’s own burial. It is
a fact that, due to special circumstances i.e. extreme
terrain formations, malfunctioning, technical defects etc.,
a burial in an avalanche cannot be counted out even with
the airbag. There is no question that submerged victims
with transceivers have a greater chance to be rescued

the most modern transceiver cannot change this. A new way of thinking is required, away from the
passive role of the avalanche victim, accepting burial
and the exclusiveness of rescue, and towards an active
rescue with one's own action. It is the not submerged
and visible avalanche victims who survive in most cases.
To prevent the burial by oneself is an active act and in
most situations a successful rescue out of an avalanche. than those without one. The priorities when caught in an avalanche must include: Active prevention of burial - which means the use of the
ABS Avalanche AirbagAdditional use of a transceiver in order to facilitate a
fast rescue by other skiers in case of a total burial.Reliance on the assistance from fellow skiers depends
on the use of the Avalanche Airbag. Because only the
victom who is not buried will be able to help a fellow skier."

Life-Link to Distribute Avy Airbag in U.S.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming- Life-Link will distribute the ABS (air bag system) backpack in North America beginning this winter."The ABS system is the only tool backcountry travelers have to actively prevent " themselves from burial in an avalanche. The question is would you rather be on top or on the bottom?" said John Scott, Vice President of Life-Link International.With the growing popularity of backcountry winter sports and an increase in avalance the fatalities over the past few winters, this system is sure to attract those who want to and/or need to travel in avalanche prone areas, yet remain as safe as possible from the risk of being buried. The ABS backpack is designed to keep the skier above the surface during an avalanche by increasing the volume and surface area to help "float" the victim to the surface during the avalanche and as the snow settles. The airbags stow conveniently in the backpack until the trigger handle on the shoulder strap is pulled. Within 2-2.5 seconds the Nitrogen-air cartridge is activated, deplo ying two, 75 liter, airbags out of the sides of the pack.The system can be reused over and over by simply folding the air bags back up into their backpack pockets, inserting a new cartridge of Nitrogen Air, and replacing the Trigger handle (the cartridge and handle come as a package). Approximately 2/3rds of buried avalanche victims are recovered dead while statistics have shown that 90% of non-buried victims survive avalanches*. There have been over 30 documented cases in Europe where the ABS backpack has saved lives. Only time will tell if the ABS system is as popular in the U.S. as it is in Europe, though many skiers and snowboarders will be investigating this new avalanche safety tool and stacking the odds, as high as they can, in their favor."


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