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Published: 2024-05-02

Swedish mountain rescue should work more with drowning and other risks

NEWS Recently Umeå researchers published the first medical study of Swedish mountain rescue. The results point to a need for work with, among other things, snowmobiling, cardiac events and drowning.

The study, "A retrospective analysis of mission reports in the national Swedish Police Registry on mountain rescue 2018–2022: here be snowmobiles" is based on the Swedish Police's mountain rescue data, and describes all known mountain rescue missions during the past five years; a total of 1,543 mountain rescue operations.

The results show that Jämtland had the highest proportion of missions (38%), followed by Norrbotten county (36%). Two percent of the missions involved ≥ 4 casualties, and 44% involved ≥ 4 mountain rescuers. Foreign nationals were rescued in 12% of missions, and 37% of victims were women, which is a higher proportion than in corresponding international materials (17% in France). 14% of those affected were ≥ 66 or ≤ 12 years of age, i.e. can be considered vulnerable. The most common cause of death was cardiac event (14 deaths), followed by trauma (10 deaths) and drowning (8 deaths). 20% of all mountain rescue missions were addressing snowmobiling incidents, and eight fatalities occurred in connection with snowmobiling. One fatality was an avalanche accident.

"Increased mountain activity and climate change, which among other things may lead to washed away trail bridges, a longer snow-free season and weather that complicates helicopter operations, point to general development needs for Swedish mountain rescue," says one of the authors, Anton Westman.

"The results of the study indicate the need for work with snowmobiling, cardiac events and drowning in the mountains, as well as increased preparedness for multi-casualty incidents with several simultaneously injured people in extremely sparsely populated areas," says co-author Johanna Björnstig.

Published article:
Westman A, Björnstig J. A retrospective analysis of mission reports in the national Swedish Police Registry on mountain rescue 2018-2022: here be snowmobiles. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2024 Apr 25; 32(1):36. doi: 10.1186/s13049-024-01210-4.