After spending several hours carrying an incapciated skier to the trailhead (a trailhead only five minutes away by skis), I decided it was time I carried the tools and parts to build an emergency rescue sled quickly and easily in the backcountry.
The following is my version of an emergency rescue sled configuration I saw on couliormag.com.
This sled consists of the following parts:
- 1 – pair of skis
- 1 – pair of ski poles
- 1 – shovel handle or ice axe
- 5 – 2′ long nylon straps to strap on poles and shovel handle. The reason for the long straps is so you can make several wraps around your attachment points, especially on the rear shovel handle attachment points, which tend to pull off if you use the second 10′ loop of cord to control the rear of the sled.
- 50 feet of nylon cord cut into five 10′ pieces. (you can use these pieces to pull the sled, to tie the victim to the sled, or to help hold the sled together)
- 2 – aluminum bars 13″ x 1″ x 1/4″ (to clamp tips together)
- 3 – 1/4″ X 1 3/4 ” machine screws and wing nuts
- 6 – washers for screws.
- 1 – large (5′ x 8′) space blanket to wrap around victim
To construct the sled:
- Lay skis side by side in the snow.
- Clamp the ski tips with the aluminum bars and tighten the wing nuts.
- Strap a shovel handle or ice axe to the ski tails. Make sure to wrap the straps around the skis several times.
- Strap the two ski poles handles to the aluminum tip bar using one strap.
- Strap each of the ski poles (basket end) to the each ski at the binding.
Note: The ski poles help to stabilize the sled, keep the aluminum tip clamp in place when you start pulling the sled, and give you an attachment point you can use to tie the victim to the sled.
- Tie one 10′ loop of cord to the aluminum tip clamp. You will use this to pull the sled.
If you have more than one person to pull the sled, you can tie hand loops in the cord.
- If you have more than one person to pull the sled and you need to go down hills, tie the second 10′ loop of cord to the shovel handle. This will allow the person in the back to control the back of the sled and keep it from getting away from you when you are going down.
Important: Make sure the shovel straps are VERY secure because the rear cord can pull the shovel handle off the skis when you start pulling on it.
- Once you have the sled contructed, lay the space blanket over the sled. If you have extra clothing, use some of it as an insultating layer on the space blanket.
- Lay the victim on the space blanket. If you have extra clothes, lay those on top of the victim.
- Wrap the victim up in the space blanket.
- Secure the victim to the sled using the remaing cord.
[…] learned a valuable lesson that day. I now carry emergency gear that includes an emergency rescue sled ; extra warm clothing; extra food; lighters, matches and fire starter, a SAM splint, and a big […]
[…] My preference is toward the slightly heavier but much easier to use drag-bag burrito-style tarp like Brooks Range’s Eskimo Rescue Sled, which is a no-frills sleeping-bag-shaped sack you can stuff your broken buddy into quickly. These typically have two slots to feed skis into; place the injured party on the tarp, wrap up the materials and away you go. And while you can save about a half-pound by using the ultralight sleds, they take more practice and experience to make sure they don’t come undone in the middle of a rescue. Other models and modifications allow you to share pieces such as shovel handles that work as the sled spreader bars. […]