Getting out in an emergency
So what if it all goes pear shaped even given the hours of planning before a shoot. The mountain environment while it looks like it’s been there forever is in perpetual change and is much more in control of matters than we will ever be. Having several exit strategies pre-planned is paramount so that the team can get the hell out if needs be. Establishing clear procedures with the entire team for what to do in the event of an emergency will hopefully mean that the inverse of sod’s law is also true - nothing will indeed happen.
Initially in a remote mountain environment arguably the best form of help is self help. Knowing how to self-rescue, adapt rope systems and have the ability to deal with issues at source will cut down on the time needed to evacuate someone.
Clear briefings about the nature of the environment from safety advisors should be a regular occurrence. These should work in tandem with an open atmosphere within the team to air views, ideas, aspiriations and fears. Zoning a working area in terms of ‘safe to relax’, ‘access under supervision’ and ‘experts only’ is a great way to work especially when dealing with a team with varying degrees of mountain experience.
Maintaining good communications within the team on the ground and regular calls to an office base / 24hour contact is vital. Quick calls to give folk an idea of just how things are progressing will keep the shoot relaxed. They might even have the kettle on ready for when you stagger back to base-camp.
Satellite phones, mobile phones, walkie talkies, EPIRBs (Emergency Locator Beacons) are well known to most working in the film and television business and will be the communications links to all the elements of a rescue or evacuation.