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