On Tuesday, December 22ed, the Valmorel ski patrol used a RECCO detector to locate an off-piste skier buried under at least 1 meter of snow. At about midday the English skier and her brother triggered a slab avalanche on the Col des Mottets. The 20 meter wide by 300 meter long avalanche partly buried the brother to his waist and buried deeply his sister. Neither skier carried avalanche rescue beacons; however the woman had RECCO reflectors in her ski boots. The father used his cell phone to call rescuers.
The first ski patrollers reached the accident site and started to search with a rescue beacon and a RECCO detector. The RECCO signal was quickly detected and pinpointed. Rescuers uncovered the woman after a 20 to 30 minute burial. Suffering from mild hypothermia the woman was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital in Moutiers, where she recovered.
RECCO is advanced rescue technology utilized by more than 650 rescue organizations worldwide to facilitate the rapid location of burial avalanche victims. The two-part system consists of a detector used by organized rescue groups and reflectors that are integrated into apparel, helmets, protection gear or boots. Together they enable directional pinpointing of a victim's precise location using harmonic radar. The RECCO system is not a substitute for an avalanche rescue beacon. Complementary in function, the system is an additional tool for rescue teams that does not interfere with avalanche dogs, beacon searches or probe lines. The RECCO system facilitates a faster organized search and increases the chances of being found in time.