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Open AccessArticle

Mortality in Via Ferrata Emergencies in Austria from 2008 to 2018

1
Department of General and Surgical Critical Care Medicine, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstrasse 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
2
Department of Trauma Surgery, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstrasse 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
3
Department of Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstrasse 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
4
Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Clinical Centre Wels-Grieskirchen GmbH, Grieskirchner Strasse 42, 4600 Wels, Austria
5
Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Hospitallers Brothers Hospital, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, Kajetanerplatz 1, 5010 Salzburg, Austria
6
Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstrasse 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(1), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010103
Received: 22 November 2019 / Revised: 17 December 2019 / Accepted: 19 December 2019 / Published: 22 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mountain Sports Activities: Injuries and Prevention)
Although the European Alps now have more than 1000 via ferratas, limited data exist on the actual incidence of fatal events in via ferratas and their causes. This retrospective study analysed data from a registry maintained by the Austrian Alpine Safety Board (n = 161,855, per 11 September 2019). Over a 10-year period from 1 November 2008 to 31 October 2018, all persons involved in a via ferrata-related emergency were included (n = 1684), of which 64% were male. Most emergencies were caused by blockage due to exhaustion and/or misjudgement of the climber’s own abilities. Consequently, more than half of all victims were evacuated uninjured. Only 62 (3.7%) via ferrata-related deaths occurred. Falling while climbing unsecured was the most common cause of death, and males had a 2.5-fold higher risk of dying in a via ferrata accident. The mortality rate was highest in technically easy-to-climb sections (Grade A, 13.2%/B, 4.9%), whereas the need to be rescued uninjured was highest in difficult routes (Grade D, 59.9%/E, 62.7%). Although accidents in via ferratas are common and require significant rescue resources, fatal accidents are rare. The correct use of appropriate equipment in technically easy-to-climb routes can prevent the majority of these fatalities. View Full-Text
Keywords: via ferrata; cable; climbing; mortality; accident; emergency; rescue via ferrata; cable; climbing; mortality; accident; emergency; rescue
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Ströhle, M.; Haselbacher, M.; Rugg, C.; Walpoth, A.; Konetschny, R.; Paal, P.; Mair, P. Mortality in Via Ferrata Emergencies in Austria from 2008 to 2018. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 103.

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