SV Search and Rescue member breaks down how they prepare for avalanche calls
Star Valley Search and Rescue Commander Matt McMurdo joined SVI to discuss how they prepare for avalanche calls as it is that time of year for calls to the back country.
He says they have all their equipment ready, including shovels, and so this time of year they are practicing.
“We will actually go out behind our building, and we will bury stuff out there,” McMurdo said. “And just practice with our beacons, our probes, and just kind of teach other how to shovel and switch so we’re not wearing each other out.”
He says there are a lot of volunteer hours that go into this. He says Star Valley Search and Rescue members have gone through avalanche certification classes in Teton and Island Park.
“Get some, really, higher certification,” McMurdo said. “So, we can bring back and tech people in the unit and the valley.”
He says for those who go into the backcountry you can check out the JH Avalanche website, which is typically updated by 7 am.
“That will let you know the avalanche conditions,” McMurdo said.
He also says there will be a training for the community members coming up on January 20th at the Thayne Community Center from 6-9 pm with Dan Adams and Jason Blair.
“They were a big hit last year when we did it in Alpine,” McMurdo said. “So, we invited them back and they graciously accepted.”
He says those two are always out and they see the conditions all the time. He even says they have some good stories to share about being buried in avalanches themselves. Adams runs the next level riding clinic out of Alpine and goes around the country teaching avalanche classes.
“He can read it (avalanche conditions) a lot faster than everyone else just by looking at it,” McMurdo said.
He also says the morning of January 21, they will be meeting in the Upper Smith’s Fork parking lot and do hands-on training. No pre-registration is required.
Captain Brian Andrews from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office says Star Valley Search and Rescue and the county is really prepared.
“If anything does happen,” Andrews said. “They’re right there to help out.”
He says one big thing the community can also do if they are going to the back country is let people know where you’re going. This also includes how long you’re going to be. He says he has received calls where this lack of communication has created a problem. Both Andrews and McMurdo say another best practice is be prepared with equipment so they can more easily find you.