Canterbury Police, ski industry personnel and SAR groups will take part in a large-scale avalanche response exercise near Mt Cheeseman Ski Area today.
Acting Sergeant Paul Beaver, Canterbury Police SAR Coordinator, 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 you 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.”
Acting Sergeant Beaver says 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.
“Police formed the Canterbury Avalanche Response Group in 2010 to provide a pool of people with the right skill sets to respond to an avalanche incident.
The group consists of local ski industry organisations, ski areas and guiding operations, Garden City Helicopters and Mt Hutt Helicopters, Methven LandSAR, Arthur's Pass SAR and the LandSAR Alpine and Cliff Rescue team from Christchurch, Mt Cook and Fox.
A similar response group exists in the Mackenzie Basin.
"At the same time the Canterbury Avalanche Response Plan was developed by the group.
The exercise today is designed to test the effectiveness of the plan and to assess the groups’ readiness to respond to an avalanche incident."