Snow and Avalanche Center Avalanche News - 2006

BCA adds probing and shoveling to innovative education program

BOULDER, CO (August 26, 2006) - Snow safety equipment manufacturer Backcountry Access (BCA) has added probing and shoveling awareness to its growing education program--and is supporting it with a new lineup of shovels, probes and snow study tools for professionals.

"Probe and shovel technique are the last frontier in the campaign to decrease companion rescue times," said Bruce Edgerly, Vice President of Backcountry Access, manufacturer of the Tracker DTS transceiver. "We're seeing rank novices find victims in less than two minutes. Then it takes ten minutes or more to probe and excavate the victim. With proper education we think we can cut that time in half, create a better workspace for the rescuer, and ultimately help save more lives."

To accomplish that, company staff spent an entire week last winter digging holes and researching the best methods for excavating avalanche victims from debris. This research will culminate in a paper at the 2007 International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW) in Telluride and a series of point-of-purchase displays at retail shops worldwide, illustrating proper beacon, shovel, and probe technique. In addition, all BCA products in 2006-07 will come with a hangtag containing a tear-out Companion Rescue Guide describing these
techniques in English, German, and French.

The company's expanded education program will be supported with an expanded line of snow safety products. This includes an updated Companion Shovel redesigned for professionals, a new line of fast-assembling Quickie probes, and an affordable snow study kit, field book, and snow saw. BCA's updated Companion Shovel is the best example of the company's focus on education. On the front of the shovel blade, BCA has printed three illustrations from its Companion Rescue Guide. These can be used as an educational tool by professionals teaching on-snow courses and as a field reference for recreationists. The blade itself has been enlarged, now measuring 25 x 30 centimeters. These new dimensions make it ideal for performing
shovel shear and compression tests. The back of the blade is completely flat, enabling the professional to produce much cleaner walls and columns when working in snowpits.

BCA designed the Companion Shovel blade after copious input from avalanche professionals, most notably the research team from the University of Calgary's Center for Applied Snow and Avalanche Research (ASARC). The shovel will continue to feature BCA's innovative oval shaft and accommodates BCA's optional Companion Probe. BCA's new Quickie line of probes include depth markings and are available in sizes ranging from 203 to 300 cm. The company's snow study kit was developed with guidance from members the American Avalanche Association (AAA), Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA), ASARC, and AIARE (American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education).

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