Being innovative regarding the sensitive question of accidents in mountain sports: prevention opportunities provided by experience feedback methods applied to accident and near-miss sequences

Ce texte est une note d’intention en vue d’une communication à la Deuxième Université Internationale d’Hiver, rédigée par Maud Vanpouller, Centre de recherche et d’innovation sur le sport (EA 647 – Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1). Retravaillée, la communication finale sera diffusée à la suite de l’événement, complétée et affinée.

Accidents are notoriously frequent in mountain sports – also referred to as risk sports. For example, the NSOSM1 recorded 5389 rescue operations in the French mountains in 2012 (excluding ski resort areas). Similarly, in Switzerland, the total number of fatal accidents recorded during hiking, mountaineering and ski touring represents half of all accidental deaths during the practice of sports in the broader sense (Bianchi & Brügger, 2013). The effectiveness of preventive approaches depends on thorough knowledge of typical circumstances, of the origins of accident sequences, and of the main risk factors and consequences (Bahr & Krosshaug, 2005; Rasmussen & Svedung, 2000). Unfortunately, the accidentology of mountain sports appears quite underdeveloped in France, partly because of data availability limitations, fragmentation of sources, heterogeneous methodologies, corporative, institutional, and judicial stakes (Soulé & al., 2014).

With this in mind, we present in this communication the opportunities offered by experience feedback methods as used in industrial settings, applied to accident sequences but also to incidents or near-misses. The study of close calls, or incidentology, allows lessening certain issues or blocks to accident reporting and appears as a somewhat dedramatized way to improve knowledge of accident sequences. It consists in grasping the preventive value of problematic situations, which could have escalated to 1 National System for the Observation of Safety in Mountain areas: aggregation of mountain interventions carried out by the various specialized rescue services. an accident but where worse outcomes have been avoided, without having to face the emotional and juridical charge inherent to accidents.

Moreover, incidents, much more frequent than accidents, not to say commonplace, provide a greater pool of data to comprehend accidentology from. Experience feedback is a process composed of various steps: collecting and memorising information on accidents, treatment of this data, transmission of the results in order to share the experience thus formulated (Valancogne, 2002; Bal & Kappès-Grangé, 2002). Accident reporting and feedback on accidents has a long history in North America where, to only cite the most famous, Accident in North American Mountaineering (ANAM) publishes reports every year from the American Alpine Club (AAC) and the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC).

Although all the existing accident and incident reporting systems provide interesting insights on accident sequences, most of them lack detailed information on the situations to enable thorough analysis of the data, and thus meaningful experience sharing and preventive approaches improvement. After having detailed the theoretical and conceptual background of experience feedback methods and of incidentology, we will intend to offer a comprehensive, international overview of existing accident and near-miss reporting systems in the field of mountain sports. Secondly, based on the presented systems and on cyndynics theories, we will propose general recommendations to create a comprehensive accident and incident reporting system to allow indepth, multi-factors and system-based analysis of reports. This applied research constitutes, on one hand, an innovation as to the methods that were used; on the other hand, it constitutes in itself a social innovation, since it currently results in the implementation of an online, open-access, participative platform enhancing the preventive use of gathered experience feedbacks.

With the support of 2 Sciences of danger, such institutions as the Petzl Foundation and the Camptocamp community, it eventually aims to provide an alternative way of improving the prevention of accidents in mountain areas. Like most innovations, the success or failure of this alternative system, and its actual contribution to the accidentology of mountain sports, will greatly depend on the appropriation of the platform currently designed, a major stake in the coming months.