Mountain rescue by radar – Bavaria

From the helicopter, mountain rescuers want to use new detectors to find victims faster after avalanches or other mountain accidents and thus save lives. Helicopters with two such radar devices have been on the road in Bavaria since autumn, said Interior and Sports Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) on Wednesday at Sudelfeld near Oberaudorf at an appointment with the Bavarian Board of Trustees for Alpine Safety.

Winter sports can be practiced again despite Corona, people should exercise in the fresh air, said Herrmann. The fact that there have been no avalanche deaths in Bavaria in the past two years is a “positive result”. With the expected snowfall, however, the risk increases. Herrmann warned: “Do not overestimate yourself, inform yourself in good time and take the danger in the Alps seriously.” When the lifts came to a standstill last season, the touring boom was given a new boost. More and more ski tourers and snowshoe hikers are out and about away from the groomed slopes – with a higher risk of avalanche accidents.

Shovel, probe and search device are essential

Helmut Weidel, alpine officer at the police, said that surviving an avalanche accident unscathed would be very lucky. Around the Hochfelln, six people buried got away practically unharmed last March. If you get caught in the snow, in most cases you have little chance of escaping. Weidel described how three ski tourers could be rescued injured on the Staufenkar in Berchtesgadener Land in January. Klaus Stöttner, Chairman of the Bavarian Alpine Safety Board of Trustees and member of the CSU state parliament, advised newcomers to take an avalanche course. It is essential to be equipped with a shovel, probe and search device.

An emergency app, which has been in use for Bavaria, Tyrol and South Tyrol since 2019, is also intended to ensure more security. It automatically transmits personal data and location to the rescuers. Around 300,000 downloads showed that the app was being accepted, said Herrmann. In 2021, 212 emergency calls were made via the app in Bavaria. With the location with the so-called SAR detectors (SAR = Search and Rescue), which have been in use since late autumn in Sonthofen in the Oberallgäu district and in Bad Reichenhall in the Berchtesgadener Land district, there has not yet been a rescue in Bavaria, said the chairman of the Bavarian Mountain Rescue Service, Thomas Lobensteiner. In other Alpine countries, however, the technology is already in use. The detector, which is suspended from a rope under a helicopter, enables a square kilometer to be searched in six minutes – on foot it takes many times the time. However, the prerequisite is that the victim has a reflector with him. The metal plates are already built into around 25 percent of mountain sports items and can also be bought separately, said Lobensteiner.

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