Outside Help

There are times a party can't cope with its own emergency. Outside help probably will be needed if a climber's injuries are severe, if the evacuation requires long stretches of lifting or lowering, or when circumstances—party size, condition of party, terrain, and distance to the trailhead—combine to make transport difficult. Thirty or more rescuers may be needed to carry a disabled victim for more than 2 or 3 miles on even the best of trails.

After your party decides that outside aid is needed, send for help as soon as the victim is stabilized and the persons going for aid are no longer needed at the accident site. In many areas, help by helicopter is usually no more than 3 hours away once word gets to the proper authorities, though this will depend on weather, terrain, and local politics. Ground rescuers often can be at the scene in 8 to 16 hours. If the climbing party is in a sheltered area accessible by helicopter and the weather is good, don't move the victim unless the injuries require doing so.

If your party needs help, don't hesitate in asking it from climbers on nearby peaks, from people living or working in the region, or from local authorities. A climbing party should know in advance where to turn for help if its own efforts fail and how to cooperate with rescuers and authorities.

It is sometimes not possible to send anyone from your group for help. Your only alternative then is to try to signal rescuers with noise or visual signals. Such a situation dramatizes the need to leave information about your intended route and estimated time of return with a responsible person, who will notify authorities if you don't show up.

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