General Procedures

Establish from witnesses where the victim was located just before the avalanche to determine the point where the victim disappeared—the "last seen" point. Using this and any other information, establish a probable victim trajectory line leading to high priority search areas. Make a quick but systematic check of the slide area and the deposition area, and mark all clues. Look for skis, poles, ice axes, packs, gloves, hats, goggles, boots, or any other article the person may have been carrying—it might still be attached to the victim.

a. Organize initial searchers and probers. If using avalanche beacons, immediately select personnel to begin a beacon search. Ensure all other beacons are turned off or to receive to eliminate erroneous signals. All personnel should have a shovel or other tool for digging or, if enough personnel are available, a digger can be standing by to assist when needed. If the initial search reveals items from the victim, make an initial probe search in that area. This probing should take only a few seconds.

b. Make a coarse probe of all likely areas of burial, and repeat it as long as a live rescue remains possible. Resort to the fine probe only when the possibility of a live rescue is highly improbable. Unless otherwise indicated, start the coarse probe at the deposition area.

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