Avalanche Rescue – A Systems Approach
The outcome of any avalanche is always uncertain and thus an accident can range from a simple close call to the devastating consequences of a life-changing injury or worse: death. Knowing which result one might experience is not fully knowable, but sometimes it is reasonably predictable, but sometimes it’s not. Because avalanches and avalanche accidents involve uncertainty, they are complex events, which means only inputs can be controlled but not outputs.
Rescue paradox: sometimes a poorly organized and performed rescue can save a life, and sometimes even a text-book rescue effort is not good enough.
In systems thinking The goal of a systems approach according to international safety and human error gurus Sidney Dekker and Nancy Leveson is to create a system “in which individual responsibility and competence can effective help create desired outcomes.”
Even The Mountaineers have updated their classic Ten Essentials from a tools-based list to a functional systems-based list called the Ten Essential Systems.
Avalanche accidents have changed and avalanche rescue should change too.