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September 13, 2000

Improving Survival During Snow Burial in Avalanches

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;284(10):1242-1243. doi:10.1001/jama.284.10.1239

To the Editor: Dr Grissom and colleagues1 reported that an artificial air pocket device may reduce mortality among avalanche survivors by preventing asphyxia under the conditions of their study. While this device may increase the survival time of a buried individual who would otherwise die from asphyxia, it does not decrease the time to rescue, which is important given that one third of avalanche victims die from trauma.2 Buried avalanche survivors who cannot be quickly located by visual or acoustic contact have the highest chance for survival (45%) if they use a rescue transceiver,2 which is considered the principal tool for finding buried victims.3

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