Advertisement

Avalanche airbag post-burial active deflation — The ability to create an air pocket to delay asphyxiation and prolong survival

      Abstract

      Aim

      The primary purpose of an avalanche airbag is to prevent burial during an avalanche. Approximately twenty percent of avalanche victims deploying airbags become critically buried, however. One avalanche airbag actively deflates three minutes after deployment, potentially creating an air pocket. Our objective was to evaluate this air pocket and its potential to prevent asphyxiation.

      Methods

      Twelve participants were fitted with an airbag and placed prone on the snow. Participants deployed the airbag and were buried in 1.5 m of snow for 60 min with vital signs including oxygen saturation (SpO2) and end-tidal CO2 (ETCO2) measured every minute. Participants completed a post-burial survey to determine head movement within the air pocket.

      Results

      Eleven of the 12 participants (92%) completed 60 min of burial. Preburial baseline SpO2 measurements did not change significantly over burial time (P > 0.05). Preburial baseline ETCO2 measurements increased over the burial time (P < 0.02); only one ETCO2 value was outside of the normal ETCO2 range (35–45 mmHg). Participants reported they could move their head forward 11.2 cm (SD 4.8 cm) and backward 6.6 cm (SD 5.1 cm) with the majority of participants stated that they had enough head movement to separate the oral cavity from opposing snow if necessary. Visual examination during extrication revealed a well-defined air pocket in all burials.

      Conclusion

      The avalanche airbag under study creates an air pocket that appears to delay asphyxia, which could allow extra time for rescue and improve overall survival of avalanche victims.

      Keywords

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Resuscitation
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Haegeli P.
        • Falk M.
        • Brugger H.
        • Etter H.J.
        • Boyd J.
        Comparison of avalanche survival patterns in Canada and Switzerland.
        CMAJ. 2011; 183: 789-795
        • Procter E.
        • Strapazzon G.
        • Dal Cappello T.
        • et al.
        Burial duration, depth and air pocket explain avalanche survival patterns in Austria and Switzerland.
        Resuscitation. 2016; 105: 173-176
        • Brugger H.
        • Sumann G.
        • Meister R.
        • et al.
        Hypoxia and hypercapnia during respiration into an artificial air pocket in snow: implications for avalanche survival.
        Resuscitation. 2003; 58: 81-88
        • Strapazzon G.
        • Paal P.
        • Schweizer J.
        • et al.
        Effects of snow properties on humans breathing into an artificial air pocket — an experimental field study.
        Sci Rep. 2017; 7: 17675
        • Kottmann A.
        • Blancher M.
        • Spichiger T.
        • et al.
        The Avalanche Victim Resuscitation Checklist, a new concept for the management of avalanche victims.
        Resuscitation. 2015; 91: e7-8
        • Van Tilburg C.
        • Grissom C.K.
        • Zafren K.
        • et al.
        Wilderness medical society practice guidelines for prevention and management of avalanche and nonavalanche snow burial accidents.
        Wilderness Environ Med. 2017; 28: 23-42
        • Procter E.
        • Strapazzon G.
        • Dal Cappello T.
        • Castlunger L.
        • Staffler H.P.
        • Brugger H.
        Adherence of backcountry winter recreationists to avalanche prevention and safety practices in northern Italy.
        Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014; 24: 823-829
        • Ng P.
        • Smith W.R.
        • Wheeler A.
        • McIntosh S.E.
        Advanced avalanche safety equipment of backcountry users: current trends and perceptions.
        Wilderness Environ Med. 2015; 26: 417-421
        • Haegeli P.
        • Falk M.
        • Procter E.
        • et al.
        The effectiveness of avalanche airbags.
        Resuscitation. 2014; 85: 1197-1203
        • Kornhall D.K.
        • Logan S.
        • Dolven T.
        Body positioning of buried avalanche victims.
        Wilderness Environ Med. 2016; 27: 321-325
        • McClung D.
        • Schaerer P.
        The avalanche handbook.
        The Mountaineers, Seattle1993
        • Grissom C.K.
        • Radwin M.I.
        • Harmston C.H.
        • Hirshberg E.L.
        • Crowley T.J.
        Respiration during snow burial using an artificial air pocket.
        JAMA. 2000; 283: 2266-2271
        • Wood S.N.
        • GAMs in Practice
        Generalized additive models: an introduction with R.
        Chapman and Hall/CRC, New York2017

      Linked Article