Most avalanche accidents are not too serious, but still the snow masses demand many lives. Once the head/respiratory or upper bodyis in the snow, the person is considered to be already completely buried. If that happens the person has only about 30 min to be rescued before suffocation. If there is air to breath under the snow masses the person would have about 90min before freezing to death. A rescue team needs about 90 min to find and save the victim, if it is completely buried. In that case the risk to suffocate or freeze to death is too high.
The avalanche protection system AirQ has two functions:
The airbag prevents the body from sinking under the snow masses. This works because the body volume is higher then the snowball volume. In addition to that, the system closes in front of the head and protects the face from snowmasses. The resulting hollow, or „airbubble“, is provided with oxygen by the automatic oxygen-injection-system. Vales transport the exhaled carbondioxid to the outside, where it is absorbed by the snow. If the victim is buried under the subsequent snow masses the rescuers have enough time to find and dig him up.