Cave Rescue

International Commission for Alpine Rescue
(Internationale Kommisia fur Alpines Rettingwesen)

Over the past decade it has become more apparent that information, ideas and standards need to be formulated and disseminated both locally, nationally and perhaps more recently internationally. There is no activity to which this concept is more relevant than mountaineering, coupled with all those other activities which take place in a mountain environment - skiing, parapenting, etc. IKAR is increasingly providing this service to those groups who seek to render assistance to those persons who suffer some misfortune in the mountains.

IKAR had humble beginnings in 1948 when a group of doctors and alpine specialists from five countries Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland met to discuss their common concern that the rescue of those in difficulties in the high alps should transcend the then 'national boundaries'. From this beginning IKAR has progressed over the ensuing decades to body of some twenty-one member organisations from sixteen different countries, with a further seven associate members who, in the main, are research / technical institutions. The basic principle of IKAR is to render rapid, effective and efficient assistance to anyone in trouble in the mountains, but it is now progressing further within the principle. Through co-operation and discussion, and the combining of knowledge and information it seeks some semblance of standardisation and the continued improvement of rescue techniques and equipment, mountain rescue medicine, and the evacuation and transportation of casualties by both land and air.

Preventive publicity as a means of accident prevention is just as important as the rescue aspect. In the field of avalanche work it is very much to the fore with the detailed study of avalanche dangers, accident prevention and self rescue, and the improvement of search and 1rescue techniques for avalanche victims. In this field one of its important pieces of work is the standardisation of frequency for avalanche transceivers a major achievement. At its working level IKAR comprises of five sub-commissions: Avalanche, Land Rescue, Rescue Medicine, Air Rescue and Publicity Sub-Commissions. These sub-commissions arrange working party meetings/seminars to look at certain areas of study; the results of these meetings/seminars are then presented at the Annual Delegates Conference.

The Mountain Rescue Council for England and Wales was admitted to full membership of IKAR in 1982 and is deemed to represent Great Britain. However in this respect it does not purport to speak for the other mountain rescue committees, namely of Scotland and Northern Ireland on matters of policy and the like. It does however provide a vehicle for the dissemination of information on a two-way basis within the title of the representative for Great Britain.

Should the other Mountain Rescue Committees wish to join IKAR the opportunity is there for them to do so. IKAR then comprises of members and associate members from the following countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain, Poland, Slovenia, Czechoslovakia, Spain, Liechtenstein, Bulgaria, Norway, Canada, United States, Russia and Greece.

In addition to the member countries and organisations IKAR has liaison with such countries as Japan, Nepal, China, India, Pakistan and a number of South American countries. Surely now it can only be a matter of time before IKAR extends its membership into the southern hemisphere and becomes, without equivocation, the International organisation for mountain rescue that the UIAA is for mountaineering.