Avalanche response exercise hailed a success

by Anonymous Author

The Canterbury Avalanche Response Group is now better equipped to respond to a real-life emergency after a successful training operation in Selwyn according to police.

Canterbury Police, ski industry personnel and Search and Rescue (SAR) groups took part in a large-scale avalanche response exercise near the Mt Cheeseman ski area.

Canterbury Police SAR coordinator, acting sergeant Paul Beaver, said the exercise, dubbed Operation CARE, was developed by Avalanche NZ and simulated seven people being caught in an avalanche.

“The exercise was a really helpful learning opportunity for the 50 people from the avalanche response group and St John Ambulance who were involved.

“We gained invaluable experience in as close to a real-life scenario as we can get. This means we’ll be better prepared to respond quickly and effectively to future avalanche incidents.”

He said police were grateful to all the organisations and individuals which contributed to the running of the successful exercise, particularly Avalanche NZ, NZSAR, Dr Malin Zachau, Horizons Unlimited and the Department of Conservation.

“The exercise was designed to test the effectiveness of the Canterbury Avalanche Response Plan and to assess the groups’ readiness to respond to an avalanche incident,” acting sergeant Beaver said.

“When emergency services are called upon to respond to an avalanche, effective planning and coordination between Police and other emergency services can mean the difference between life and death.

“Our team performed outstandingly during the exercise, and we are now the most prepared we can be to respond to a real-life incident.”

He said there is a danger of avalanche at any time there is sufficient snow on a slope.

“Avalanches occur naturally all the time, however, in the majority of cases where people get caught in an avalanche they have triggered it themselves.”