If you follow C-RAD, you’ve likely heard us talk about avalanche technicians. Sometimes, you’ll hear us refer to them as “avy techs” or just “techs.” While handlers and dogs are often the primary focus in media content and coverage, the avalanche technician role is equally necessary and valuable for successful search and rescue. Who are C-RAD techs and what does that role encompass?

Avalanche technicians are professionals in the industry, meaning they’re already part of a search and rescue organization or ski patrol team, and have high-level training in snow science and avalanche safety. They have strong mountain rescue backgrounds, combined with backcountry experience.

The main focus for techs:

  • Site command
  • Site safety
  • Communication
  • Assisting the handler + dog team

Avalanche dog and handler on snowmobileAvalanche technician diggin in the snow during training Dog handler with dog on shoulders

In a mission scenario, avalanche technicians clear avalanche debris of beacon and RECCO signals, letting the handler and dog team focus on their search strategy. Techs are in constant communication with the dog handler, prepared to keep a big picture view of the mission and solve problems as they arise.

Other potential objectives:

  • Medical care
  • Navigation planning
  • Incoming resource planning
  • Rigging rope systems for evacuation

C-RAD has placed a lot of emphasis on the avalanche technician + handler + K9 model approach because we believe it’s extremely effective. We want our teams to be prepared to be first on-scene, and be able to initiate a response before a larger search and rescue team arrives.

As we evolve and improve our avalanche technician training and standards, our goal is to become a leader in our approach. We see it as our duty to provide as many resources as possible for our techs to build upon their knowledge and help further the C-RAD mission. Thank you to all our avalanche technicians who dedicate their time and energy to this work!