Alpine emergencies

What can you do? How do you get help? What is the correct procedure for providing assistance?

Emergencies can occur in the mountains at any time. It is therefore essential to know how to react and what to do should such an event occur. The best way to stay safe in the mountains is proper prevention and to avoid dangerous situations. This means that you'll have no emergency incidents that require mountain rescue.

Mountain Rescue Tirol in training

Emergency call procedure

The most important device for every hike: a fully charged mobile phone!

In the event of an emergency in the mountains, time is of the essence. This is why it is particularly important to ensure you have a fully charged mobile phone with you before setting off. In fact, you should always take this device with you for any tour in the mountains. Likewise, make sure you have the correct emergency service numbers and, should an accident occur, submit an accurate report.

Emergency telephone numbers

  • Mountain rescue service: 140

  • European emergency: 112

If you are in a mountain area without a mobile phone signal, you will NOT be able to make an emergency call. In such an event, change your location and keep trying to dial one of the emergency numbers. If your mobile phone is switched off or you only have the victim's locked mobile phone: every mobile phone automatically connects to the European emergency call 112 when you enter the pin and make the emergency call, even without approved use of the mobile phone. Some newer models now even have a standard one-touch speed dial.

How to report an accident: Steps

  • checkWhere is the exact location of the accident?

  • checkWho should report the accident? (You may be required to provide a callback number.)

  • checkWhat happened?

  • checkHow many injured are there?

  • checkFollow the instructions of the dispatcher at the control centre.

Mountain Rescue Tirol emergency app

If you have a mobile phone with you in the mountains, your mind will be at ease with the perfect app for mountain adventurers. The official Mountain Rescue Tirol app allows you to make an emergency call within seconds - without even having to search for the emergency service phone number. The app also immediately transmits your exact location data to the control centre using GPS, enabling the emergency services to find you even faster. The app can be downloaded free of charge for Android or iOs in the corresponding app stores (AppStore/Google Play).

  • Mountain Rescue Tirol_emergency app3
  • Mountain Rescue Tirol_emergency app4
  • Mountain Rescue Tirol_emergency app5

'The quick pinpointing of the location saves valuable time - and time is often the crucial survival factor.'

Kurt Nairz

Director of Mountain Rescue Tirol

Rendering first aid

If you come across an injured person in the mountains, you are obliged to render first aid. This starts with making an emergency call via a mobile phone. If no mobile signal is available in the area where you are, you should either change your location or try to communicate with mountain rescue service using other alpine emergency signals such as whistles, calls or repeated torch flashes (one signal 6 times every ten seconds - pause for one minute - repeat).

It is important not to be afraid to call for help. The biggest mistake would be not to ask for assistance. The highly experienced staff at the control centre will offer you the best advice regarding your emergency situation.

Before making the call, you should render first aid. In certain circumstances, this may determine life or death.

Life-saving measure steps:

  • checkIs the victim conscious? Is he or she able to speak? Can the person be brought back to consciousness by speaking or gently shaking them?

  • checkIf not, check that the accident victim is still breathing. To do this, carefully turn the person on his or her back, open the person's mouth and gently tilt his or her head backwards. Then check for approx. 10 seconds whether you can detect breathing noises, chest movement, air flow or even a pulse.

  • checkIf yes, place the person on his or her side in a stable position and make the emergency call.

  • checkIf not, immediately start CPR as you have learnt in your most recent first aid course.

To render first aid, you need specific knowledge and training, especially for applying cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This knowledge is provided by first aid courses. Hikers are mountaineers who are often out in the Alps are advised to refresh their knowledge regularly in order to be able to react appropriately in stressful situations, including keeping calm. But even if your last first aid course was a while ago, any knowledgeable attempt to provide medical assistance is still better than none.

  • First aid
    In the mounatins, there is a legal obligation to provide first aid.
  • Mountain rescue service
    The members of Mountain Rescue Tirol are professionally trained and know how to help you.
  • First aid in the mountains
    In the event of an accident, your priority will be keeping warm. The members of the mountain rescue team are aware of how important this is.

Prevention is better than cure

In the mountains, the following always applies: be careful and avoid accidents wherever possible. A few preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of dangerous and unpredictable situations. In general, however, if you tour the mountains with common sense and open eyes, you can enjoy relaxing and safe alpine adventures.

Important prevention tips

  • checkAlways wear the appropriate footwear for your adventure.

  • checkAlways pack warm clothing.

  • checkAlways take sufficient drink and a few "snacks".

  • checkMake sure you have a fully charged phone with you.

  • checkMake sure you pack a small first aid kit.

  • checkAlways plan your route well in advance.

  • checkResearch any dangerous places along the route in advance.

  • checkPay attention to the weather forecast and short-term weather changes.

  • checkBefore you head off on your tour, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.

Excellent cover - Safe in the mounatins

Call outs in the mountains are not free!

Emergencies can happen. It may also be necessary to call emergency services. But always remember: call outs by the best trained emergency services are not free. For mountain rescue operations, the costs are even higher.

With mountain rescue insurance, you are covered for up to € 15,000 or more. There are a number of policies to choose from. Mountain Rescue Tirol's Supporting Member's policy, for example, covers the entire family for only € 28.00 per year. It includes mountain rescue cover for the spouses or partners and children living in the household up to the age of 18.

The Austrian Alpine Club also offers its members various insurance benefits. The policies available are not just limited to mountain rescue insurance, but usually also include repatriation insurance, travel insurance, liability and legal insurance.

There are of course many other ways to insure yourself accordingly. Remember: accidents can always happen - no matter how careful you are. And: Remember that health insurance companies do not pay for mountain rescue emergencies!