What happened? Three backcountry skiers left Lookout Pass ski area though one of the boundary gates on January 13th, 2016 in search of some fresh turns during a storm. The skiers skied a questionable slope, which one group member had skied recently, and triggered an avalanche. One skier was hurt severely exposing bone and started to bleed profusely.
It was evident to the group that they were in trouble. They called 911 and sent over their GPS coordinates. Searchers didn’t know if they were in Idaho or Montana; it was a logistical nightmare. Ground crews could not reach them with rising avalanche danger and a helicopter would not be able to land on a steep slope. Daylight was running out and the storm kept raging.
A stroke of good luck and determination saved the injured skier. A helicopter for air support was able to locate the victim and relayed the coordinates to ground search and rescue who were able get there just in the nick of time.
Want some proof that having the right gear, training, can make a big difference? These guys not only had avalanche gear (beacon, shovel, probe, transceiver) they had superior first aid kits with quikclot (hemostatic gauze) with them! They also had avalanche training, but even more impressive, they had Wildernes First Responder or advanced medical training. Without these things, it would have been a very grim situation.
Have you ever heard of Two Bear Air? It is aviation support for search and rescue. The helicopter has the most advanced technology on board, for example, the pilot has night vision goggles. The operation was set up by Michael Gogue, a Whitefish, MT philanthropist, which means it does not cost a single tax dollar!
Read the detailed story on the Spokesman.