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September 13, 2000

Improving Survival During Snow Burial in Avalanches—Reply

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

In Reply: We strongly agree with Dr Fink about the importance of rapid localization and extrication of buried avalanche survivors. The efficacy of avalanche rescue transceivers is well documented and should be requisite equipment when traveling in avalanche terrain. An individual buried in an avalanche wearing the artificial air pocket device would also require transceiver localization. Unfortunately, more than 70% of the deaths mentioned in the 45-year US avalanche analysis were in recreational categories.1 Persons pursuing recreational activities generally are less practiced in the use of avalanche transceivers and are significantly slower than professionals at finding buried transceivers (mean, 32 minutes vs 18 minutes).2 Therefore, the increased survival time after burial afforded by the artificial air pocket device may have the greatest impact among the recreational group.