Extrication times during avalanche companion rescue: a randomized single-blinded manikin study
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Aims: This study aimed to determine the time needed for one or two companion rescuers to access, extricate, and deliver cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to a fully buried manikin during a simulated avalanche burial scenario. Materials and Methods: In this randomized, single-blinded study, 18 medical students were required to extricate a manikin manually from a simulated avalanche burial of 1m in depth, either alone or in teams of two. Each participant performed three consecutive tests with the manikin in three different positions in random order. Results: Median time to first manikin contact was 2.5 minutes, median time to airway access 7.2 minutes, and median time to standard position for CPR 10.1 minutes. Overall, the number of rescuers (one compared to two rescuers, 10.5 minutes vs. 9.3 minutes; p = 0.686) and the burial position of the manikin (10.8 minutes vs. 10.6 minutes vs. 8.8 minutes; p = 0.428) had no influence on extrication times. Preexisting training (6.1 minutes vs. 11.0 minutes p = 0.006) and a learning effect obtained during the experiments (12.4 minutes the first test vs. 9.3 in the third test; p = 0.017) improved all extrication times. Conclusion: It takes an average of 7 minutes after location of a simulated avalanche victim, buried at a depth of 1m, to free the airway, plus a further 3 minutes to initiate CPR in standard supine position. This is more than two-thirds of the 15 minutes considered necessary for successful companion avalanche rescue. Even minimal training significantly reduced extrication times. These findings emphasize the importance of regular practice in specific extrication techniques that should be part of any training in avalanche companion rescue.
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