Canterbury avalanche response exercise a success




The Canterbury Avalanche Response Group is now better equipped to respond to a real life emergency after a successful training operation.

On Saturday June 30th Canterbury Police, ski industry personnel and SAR groups took part in a large-scale avalanche response exercise near Mt Cheeseman Ski area.

Acting Sergeant Paul Beaver, Canterbury Police SAR Coordinator, says Saturday’s exercise, dubbed Operation CARE, was developed by Avalanche NZ and simulated seven people being caught in an avalanche.

“The exercise was a really helpful learning opportunity for the 50 people from the avalanche response group and St John Ambulance who were involved.

“We gained invaluable experience in as close to a real-life scenario as we can get.

“This means we’ll be better prepared to respond quickly and effectively to future avalanche incidents.”

NZ Police are very grateful to all the organisations and individuals that contributed to the running of the successful exercise; particularly Avalanche NZ, NZSAR, Dr Malin Zachau, Horizons Unlimited and the Department of Conservation.

“The exercise on Saturday was designed to test the effectiveness of the Canterbury Avalanche Response Plan and to assess the groups readiness to respond to an avalanche incident,” says Acting Sergeant Beaver.

“When emergency services are called upon to respond to an avalanche, effective planning and coordination between Police and other emergency services can mean the difference between life and death.

“Our team performed outstandingly during Saturday’s exercise and we are now the most prepared we can be to respond to a real-life incident.”

Acting Sergeant Beaver says there is a danger of avalanche at any time there is sufficient snow on a slope.

“Avalanches occur naturally all the time, however in the majority of cases where people get caught in an avalanche they have triggered it themselves. It’s vital that people are aware of the danger and know how to avoid avalanche terrain.

“For anyone buried in an avalanche, time is critical and their best chance of survival is a companion rescue, so we encourage people to always carry the right equipment -avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel - and know how to use them.”