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The Role of CNEAS in French Rescue Techniques

Members of the CNEAS in France were among the first to use and benefit from the MAESTRO in rescue situations. Some of them were even involved in the development of the product. Learn more about this institution, its employees and its mission!

October 1 2020

Technical rescue

What is the CNEAS of the CRS?

CNEAS of the CRS is the National Training Center for Ski and Alpinism of the Republic Safety Companies. Created on January 3, 1995, it is the one of the longest established mountain rescue schools and the parent company of the CRS's mountain specialization.

What are the goals of the CNEAS of the CRS?

The organization has multiple goals that are all centered around four key aspects: 


  • Training: We provide recruitment for the mountain specialization of the CRS. The candidates come from all over France and from backgrounds in all types of police service. After a rigorous selection and training process in Chamonix, they join a unit of the Alps CRS or the Pyrenees CRS. They'll come back to CNEAS throughout their career to update their skills and acquire more knowledge.
    We also provide training for CRS avalanche dogs, PGHM and civil security military personnel, and mountain rescue physicians.
    Lastly, we use these mountain rescue techniques for police intervention for the benefit of numerous anti-terrorist, anti-crime or investigation units such as the RAID, the BRI or the PJ.

  • Research and Development
    Since the time of commanding officer Sauveur Piguillem and his helicopter winch stretcher that has been widely used for more than four decades, the CNEAS pursues this tradition of innovation. Outside of the research of technical solutions (like the anti-rotation device), we participate in the development of recommendations and standards, through the International Commission for Alpine Rescue/ICAR for avalanche rescue (slalom probe, U shape shoveling, etc.). 
  • International Cooperation
    The CNEAS has international influence and collaborates with many countries including Ecuador, China, Germany, Russia, Macedonia, and Monaco. 
  • Safety
    We provide safety services for large sporting events like the world cup for alpine skiing (the Kandahar), the Mont Blanc Marathon, or international events like the G7, COP21, commemoration of D-Day in Normandy, etc. We also participate in providing information to the public and developing campaigns with the ministries of the Interior and of Sport for risk prevention in the mountains.

Who participates in the rescue training?

There are 15 CNEAS instructors, mountain guides, ski instructors, canyoning, caving, or rescue instructors, as well as head of operations or of rescue parties.
Many of them were already guides before arriving at CNEAS and have varied and often unique backgrounds such as physical therapists, engineers, firefighters, etc.
We also call for reinforcement from the CRS rescue professionals who work in the Alps and the Pyrennees.

What are some defining characteristics of rescue and how do Petzl products, especially the MAESTRO, help you in rescue operations?

Our demands are related to variables that may limit our response: bad weather, cold, altitude, humidity, urgency, remoteness, confinement, duration, etc. For many years we have used Petzl products and it's with Petzl that we have collaborated to develop a device that allows us to raise or lower a victim using a "corde-miroir" (mirrored rope system). Actually, this technique is meant to replace the traditional use of a main line and a belay line. Other devices exist on the market, but for us, the MAESTRO offers the most suitable solution for a response with few staff (two rescue professionals can use the device, as was demonstrated in Poland during the last ICAR meeting), but additionally, can overcome the limits imposed by a thermal or electric winch (altitude, confined space, cold). The MAESTRO offers a solution to our needs because it is durable and lightweight, versatile, easy to use and auto-blocking, and therefore, dependable.