Search and res­cue team trains in Cen­tral Otago

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE -

An Amer­i­can search and res­cue team af­fil­i­ated with the US Air Force has spent two weeks in the Cen­tral Otago moun­tain ranges learn­ing about avalanche safety.

Otago Poly­tech­nic’s Avalanche Safety and Snow Sport pro­gramme man­ager Peter Bilous said the team found the Cen­tral Cam­pus’ course on­line.

‘‘They made con­tact and were im­pressed with pro­posal, which in­cluded a pro­fes­sional train­ing plan and a day-to-day sched­ule that re­ally stood out as be­ing a well-planned and tai­lor­made moun­tain safety pro­gramme, per­fect for what they were after.’’

A spokesman for the US team said they were im­pressed with Otago Poly­tech­nic’s Cen­tral Cam­pus and the ef­fort they put into mak­ing the course work.

‘‘They made sure the train­ing was max­imised and met our bud­get. They were also re­ally good at com­mu­ni­cat­ing with us to make sure the cus­tomised pro­gramme would meet the team’s ob­jec­tives.’’

One of the highlights of the pro­gramme was spend­ing three nights in the Bob Lee hut on the Pisa Range.

‘‘Be­ing able to spend time out in the moun­tain en­vi­ron­ment and ap­ply our avalanche res­cue skills was not only crit­i­cal to our learn­ing of the ma­te­rial but also a great op­por­tu­nity for the team to bond to­gether.’’

The team of 13 spent time at Cardrona, Mt Pisa range and took part in some glacier-based train­ing on the Mt Cook glaciers un­der the guid­ance of moun­tain guide Hugh Barnard.

The team would ap­ply their train­ing in a search and res­cue ca­pac­ity when re­spond­ing to avalanches, or to move safely across avalanche ter­rain in moun­tain en­vi­ron­ments, and hope the pro­gramme could be­come a reg­u­lar part of their train­ing, the spokesman said.

‘‘The en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence has been fan­tas­tic. The train­ing Peter gave us was phe­nom­e­nal, and we are very pleased we chose this pro­gramme.

‘‘Peter has so much knowl­edge to share and all mem­bers of our team have left with much more con­fi­dence in their avalanche res­cue skills and us­ing these in real world sit­u­a­tions.

‘‘A mas­sive thanks goes to Peter and the staff at Otago Poly­tech­nic’s Cen­tral Cam­pus. It has been a won­der­ful.’’

SUP­PLIED

A search and res­cue team from the United States con­duct­ing avalanche safety train­ing in Cen­tral Otago.

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