Multivictim searches with the Tracker

We took a short look at the multi-victim search strategy with Gregory, who represents Salewa which imports the avalanche beacon in France. When the Tracker is first switched to search mode it locks onto the strongest signal in its search strip (you may have to cross the search area to pick up a signal if the avalanche zone is large). Using the five direction arrows and distance indicator you can follow the flux line to the first victim.

Click on the [CC] button for English subtitles

To locate other beacons within the search area press the yellow “multi-victim” SP button. This removes the “lock” feature so the beacon will display all signals that are within range and also makes the Tracker focus in a 60 degree arc to the front and rear. Rotate the beacon slowly until you see a second signal, move slowly away and the distance should start to decrease. You should now move the number of “meters” shown on the range in this direction and revert to normal search mode. The beacon should now be close to the second signal and lock onto this new signal.

Remember that multi-victim searches should be the exception rather than the rule. Beacons such as the Pieps DSP, Barryvox Pulse and the yet to reach the shops Ortovox S1 analyze the pulse rates and duty cycles of transmissions in order to distinguish between individual beacons (experienced searchers can do the same by ear with older analogue beacons). This simplifies multi-victim searches but the technique is not infallible as beacons can mask each other giving phantom or missing beacons, a cause of stress for inexperienced rescuers. The Tracker solution is simple and elegant.

The Tracker has been made easier to use in other ways. The auto-revert feature is now disabled by default. This feature turns the beacon back to transmit mode if a button isn’t pressed by the searcher every 5 minutes. It is a useful feature in case of a secondary avalanche but confused inexperienced searchers who suddenly found their beacon wasn’t working or that there was now a mobile victim running around the search area. The feature is still there but must be explicitly enabled when the beacon is switched on. The display LEDs are also brighter and the harness has been improved over earlier models.

Due to very strong North-American sales BCA will reduce the price of the beacon to 260 Euros (you can expect a street price slightly under this figure). They are hoping that this will give them a bigger market share in Europe. They believe that the extensive Power-On Self Test feature as well as the ease of use make the beacon ideal for hire, guiding and club use.

Posted by davidof on Wednesday, 11 April, 2007 at 08:39 PM

Some remarks on this Tracker.
The disabling of the auto-revert feature is clumsy: now if you want to use it, you have to remember to ‘install’ it each time you switch the beacon on. I find the new harness good looking but not very nice to wear: it moves around all the time and ‘feels’ big.

For the future: it seems the handy special mode multi victim search feature will no longer be there on the new 3 antenna Tracker.

Posted by Rolf on  Thursday, 12 April, 2007  at 03:18 PM

Thanks Rolf.

I agree the autorevert should be some kind of setting that is remembered by the beacon.

Interesting information about the special mode as this works well. I will see what they plan for multi-victim searches.

Posted by davidof on  Sunday, 15 April, 2007  at 10:40 AM

Hi Rolf

I raised the point about the Special Mode on the Tracker 2 beacon with the French representative of BCA and they assured me that it will be on the new beacon. Apparently the plan had been to remove this feature but consumer feedback caused them to reconsider.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 26 April, 2007  at 03:13 PM

Hi Davidof,

That’s good news! It shows though in what part of the developmentprocess this new Tracker is. At ISPO they wouldn’t implement de Sp mode, only an indication for multiple signals. And now they apparantly turned back in their steps.
Makes me curious about the outcome !

Posted by Rolf on  Monday, 30 April, 2007  at 04:27 PM

Excellent web site. I work directly for BCA and would like to make a few comments:

1. The reason we do not use Auto-Revert as the default setting is that it can hinder searching when a beacon reverts to tranmsit. This has actually been documented and commented upon to us by someone who experienced it in a burial with a beacon that did not have programmable Auto-Revert. The solution to this is that all users should be 100% familiar with their beacon functions but unfortunately this is rarely the case among recreational users. Another reason, and this is more personal, is that secondary slides only happen in the most dangerous conditions. If there is a chance for a secondary slide it is quite likely that a searcher may determine that the area is not safe to search. Current avalanche rescue protocol mandates that the search area needs to be determined to be safe before entering it. If it is not, do not enter it.

2. The beacon being demonstrated here is the current Tracker DTS and has always functioned in this regard and has always excelled in solving mulitiple burials, especially close-proximity which can be very challenging for some people. We are seeing a current trend in AMGA, ACMG, and IFMGA/UIAGM guides setting record-breaking times in their guides exams with the Tracker DTS. I am proud of this fact.

There is plenty of information on multiple burial search techniques at our web site, You can also contact me directly if you ever have any questions, my email can be found on the web site.

Thanks. Excellent efforts here at Pistehors, they are appreciated. Steve Christie

Posted by Steve Christie on  Thursday, 10 May, 2007  at 06:05 PM
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