Nature is a beautiful and terrifying thing. There are so many wonders and potential pitfalls that it’s wise not to stray too far into any wilderness without being knowledgeable and prepared.
In the winter months, plenty of people answer the call of the snow-capped peaks, finding their ways to resorts and ski lifts in an effort to enjoy the season.
Mountains and snow offer a challenge because of their inherent risks. Conditions can be treacherous, and without the proper gear, you could find yourself the victim of an avalanche.
There’s plenty of equipment on the market to help you survive such an event. Many professional organizations, including REI, suggest that at the minimum you take a snow shovel, a probe and an avalanche transceiver when you go skiing out in less-traveled areas.
An unnamed 12-year-old was at the La Plagne ski resort in the French Alps when he found himself caught up in an avalanche the day after Christmas. Fortunately, other people were around and the six family members he was with noticed he’d gotten swept away.
Your odds of survival decrease dramatically after 15 minutes, so time was of the essence once they lost sight of the boy. Many people are told to treat an avalanche as you would treat water, and try to stay on the surface or swim your way to the surface or side.
To make matters more difficult, according to ABC News the boy was not wearing gear equipped with detectors, so rescuers opted to use a dog to sniff him out.
Hier, à @LaPlagne, l’adjudant de @Gendarmerie Raphaël C. et son chien Gétro ont sauvé un enfant emporté par une avalanche.
? Bravo à ces #HérosDuQuotidien !
Partout en France, policiers, gendarmes & sapeurs-pompiers veillent sur nos massifs : suivez leurs conseils de prudence. pic.twitter.com/kaaoTiQgG0
— Christophe Castaner (@CCastaner) December 27, 2018
A rescue helicopter and over 30 people turned up to help locate the boy. After 40 minutes, the dog (named Gétro) found the 12-year-old, and the boy was quickly flown to the hospital.
“It’s a miracle because he was not wearing an avalanche detector,” said one of the rescue team members, according to Euronews. “The chances of survival are slim after fifteen minutes in the snow, he was very lucky.”
According to Luc Nicolino, the piste manager, the boy was conscious when they found him, and he yelled out to them when he heard them nearby.
“He had a small amount of snow in his mouth and knee and thigh pain but the doctor wasn’t worried about him,” Nicolino said.
“He was dragged several hundred metres without being crushed by the force of the snow,” said Patrice Ribes with the Savoie mountain police. “We can call it a miracle. A day after Christmas, there was another gift in store.”
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