Washoe Search and Rescue prepares for avalanches

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - It's winter storm time, and the Washoe County Search and Rescue team is preparing.

The Washoe County Search and Rescue Team practices for an avalanche rescue. Photo by Gianna Giorgi/KOLO.

"There's concern that this next system may in fact, you know, raise the possibility of avalanche levels. The time to train is now."

Although it has been a light winter so far, WCSAR President Brian Block says it's important to conduct these types of training exercises because avalanches do happen in the Sierra.

"It's not extremely common, but it does happen every year or two and they are very serious when they happen."

Block adds navigating terrain like Mount Rose is very challenging during an avalanche mission.

"Obviously you're in a steep area, but when the snow slides, it kind of comes off in what you might call blocks, like cement blocks. It's very challenging to move over an avalanche. It's very exhausting."

And if a person isn't wearing a location device it makes an already tough task even harder.

"It's very important to go into the back country in a snow situation with the proper equipment,” says Block.

Location devices such as a transceiver or a RECCO tab are devices the team practiced finding and digging up during the exercise.

"That's the sound of the RECCO tab being bounced, the signal coming from the RECCO tab, now being bounced back to the unit in my hand," says Block.

The team also practiced using probes. The long poles help rescuers probe through the snow pack to find a lost person. For volunteers, that makes the efforts worth it.

"Being out in the wilderness and finding somebody who is lost, it's hard to comprehend or hard to convey how that feels when you find somebody at night that is lost. It's an honor and a privilege to be allowed to do it."

It's a way to give back and the team is looking for new volunteers.

Click here for information on how to apply.