April 18, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 15

SEABA: Rescue call a false alarm

An avalanche in the Kicking Horse area triggered a “false alarm” Friday when a Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures (SEABA) employee called Haines emergency services without following protocol, SEABA co-owner Scott Sundberg said this week.

Sgt. Simon Ford said dispatch received a call reporting five people were unaccounted for following the avalanche. The ambulance tone-out sounded, but minutes later, the company called back and reported everything was fine.

“We didn’t actually respond, but it seems like the people on the mountain were just confused for a couple of minutes and went ahead and initiated a rescue before they had all the info,” Ford said.

Sundberg said “no one was lost, ever,” during the avalanche and that no one was caught in it. He said he didn’t know how the “rumor” about five briefly missing skiers got started. “We never relayed to EMS that we had five missing skiers,” he said.

An employee on the ground failed to follow code after an avalanche was observed in the area, Sundberg said. Instead of getting on SEABA’s radio system, assessing the situation and deciding whether emergency services were necessary, the employee called immediately.

“We went right to EMS. I think it was just a miscommunication... The avalanche was observed and no incident occurred from it, whatsoever,” Sundberg said.

Sundberg said there might have been confusion on the head count because several groups were operating in the same area at once.