Written by Lance Riek
Multiples and Marking
Multiple burials present a dire situation—if more than one victim is buried, it’s unlikely both will be recovered alive, even if there are multiple searchers available. Digging alone consumes lots of time and energy, and requires proper strategy. So why test multiple scenarios?
Two reasons: While unlikely for a responsible recreational group, multiple burials are possible in crowded out-of-bounds situations, or in large guided groups. Second, multiple burial capabilities and marking functions don’t hinder single searches—there’s no reason not to have them.
Burials involving three or more, in particular, are very difficult, and effective marking decreases search times and highlights the differences between beacons. This is why we set up three-burial scenarios. In 77 of 80 three-burial scenarios tested, beacons marked flawlessly. In two cases, marks were dropped and searchers found the beacon a second time, re-marked it, and continued searching. In the other case, two beacons were in “synch” with inseparable signals. The searcher dropped all marks and scanned in an oval around the two found beacons, as if using a beacon without marking. After testing, every single tester said they would choose a beacon with marking capabilities, even if their current personal beacon doesn’t have these functions.
It’s important to practice multiple scenarios after mastering single searches. Become confident with your beacon’s capabilities, and be prepared should your marking function fail—know how to drop marks to find an overlapping beacon, use the three-circle method, and micro search strip. Finally, the best way to avoid multiple searches is to expose only one person at a time to any hazard.
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