Posts Tagged ‘search and rescue

26
Jul
14

Outdoor/Wilderness Outings: PLAN!

Every year, I have highlighted this admonition, usually for my fly fishing brethren that trek in to be alone while fishing. Be prepared. And part of that is pre-planning and also worst case scenario planning regardless of how competent you are. I am attaching a couple pieces here: one at Traditional Mountaineering and the other re The Spot, a GPS Messenger doodad.

The Traditional Mountaineering post details the 4 personal responsibilities of a backcountry traveler. Note, it is relevent to all backcountry travelers not just mountaineers. These are culled from the State of Oregon Search and Rescue (SAR) protocols and are worth reading about your responsibilities and ‘liabilities’. Although this references Oregon law, I imagine it is similar in many parts of the country/if not also abroad.

Rescue Drills_Smit

4 Personal Responsibilities of a Backcountry Traveler

1. Tell a Reliable Person where you are going, what you are going to do and when you planned to return. Search and Rescue personnel will want to know where you planned to park your vehicle, its description and license number, what gear you have, the names, cell phone numbers and provider information and experience level of your companions. Of course, you must agree that you will call the Reliable Person when you return to the trail head. Also, this encourages your thoughtful setting of a “turn-around” time for your adventure.

The Reliable Person must accept the responsibility for calling the local County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue through 911 with the above information if you do not check in by an agreed-upon time. Your life may depend on a timely call to 911. Experience tells us that the Reliable Person may not understand the importance of this responsibility.

2. The Second Responsibility of each individual backcountry traveler or climber is to be prepared with a light weight daypack and enough extra clothing, water, food and selected gear to survive an emergency stop of several hours or overnight. These Essentials are seasonal and specific trip related and should focus on keeping you warm and dry, hydrated, eating simple carbohydrates, and able to stay in one place. If you become lost, signal your location, perhaps with colored tape or an ordinary bike flasher and/or with a reflective, water and wind proof plastic 9 ounce “SOL Emergency Bivy” sac, and exercise your large muscles at your marked position to generate warmth. Do not try to find your way -becoming exhausted, cold or dangerously wet. Wait at your marked location for rescuers. 

3. The Third Responsibility is to have a detailed topo map of the area, a declination-corrected base-plate compass . Experience tells us that you cannot get by with a cell phone “GPS” (no matter how smart) or a hand held GPS radio receiver alone – you need a paper topo map and a declination-adjusted base- plate compass, and the simple skills to use them together!

4. The Fourth Responsibility is: Carry your common digital cell phone and periodically turn it on to learn where you can contact nearby cell towers.  Insure that you have the personal option to call for medical or rescue services.

spot

This last point re communication touches upon how to reach out and this is where The Spot comes in to assist searchers to rescue you and not waste time searching.

Hiking, photography, fishing, climbing, camping, rafting, mushroom hunting….plan and take responsibility. All the ‘you could be charged’ warnings aside….just out of self respect and respect for the rescuer’s safety too, think about the basics and plan. Being near your car is not enough. A bad fall, heart attack, etc. will probably cut you off from the shelter of your car.

13
Oct
11

Search & Rescue (SAR)…Time Considerations

Seems about this time of year with the change in the weather, I get into this ‘be prepared mode’. I probably go out into a wilderness setting more in the Spring and Summer, but the elements, light and the occasional lost hiker prompt me to at least share my concerns about being prepared and safe.

The just recent cases of an Oregon lady supposedly lost in the Mt. Hood Wilderness and the recovery/deceased of another woman in the nearby State of  Washington raised my awareness to an internal process in Search and Rescue (SAR) missions: The consulting with experts to evaluate your probable chances of survival given the factors: were you prepared (gear), do you have a history of knowing how to conduct yourself in the wilds, the weather, the terrain, your known health/fitness factors, etc.  

I want to share some very interesting stats and time line markers re the search and termination of the search should you become lost. The resources are very fascinating and should be read and shared.

OHSU Researchers Find Time Is Best Predictor Of Survival In Search And Rescue Missions (July 17, 2007)


Oregon Health & Science University emergency medicine researchers set out to develop a model that could be used by search and rescue teams to determine when a search and rescue (SAR) mission could be terminated without abandoning potential survivors. The model found time to be the most important variable in determining whether a person will be found alive. Ninety-nine percent of people found alive were found within the first 51 hours after being reported missing. Their findings are published in the most recent edition of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine.

The model found a high rate of survival for people found within 17 hours of first being reported missing, a moderate rate of survival for those missing between 17 and 51 hours, and a low rate of survival for individuals missing for more then 51 hours. The analysis also found people reported missing in May through October were less likely to survive, as were people older than 60. Individuals reported missing on land were more likely to be found alive than those reported missing from a water-based activity.” (Read the entire report)

The SAR Missions are now, and probably have been, but now it is more openly presented, using these timeline markers and ‘experts’ to decide if the search will continue. If you are lost, you need to stay safe, composed and alert to SAR operations trying to find you. If you are family/friends of the lost person, the difficult decision re termination of SAR ops will be presented to you given the above timelines at some point. The probabilities of survival will be used to protect the searching resources. A fact of life, maybe a fact in death. Be prepared!!!

10
Oct
11

Hiking Trails & Not Prepared? Oregon Woman Overdue

As I listen to it pouring outside this morning, I can imagine the front bunched up against the Cascade Mountain Range and in particular the Mt. Hood area. Lost is a woman, Lidiya Dmitriyevna Russu, who parked near a trail head to do what, I don’t know (mushroom hunt, take a hike, contemplate a view, etc). The opinion is she was not prepared to spend the night. Another person’s outdoor plight is your reminder to be prepared for outdoor emergencies. You know the drill. I have posted often enough here re outdoor safety considerations. The reminder is don’t make that careless mental decision to forego the pack, the gear, the notifications that will keep you healthy and found. Best wishes Lidiya……. end of 10/10, still not found

Lidiya Dmitriyevna Russu overdue in the Mt. Hood area. Search and Rescuers are no doubt moving in right now at first light.

Update 10-12-2011

“In making the decision to suspend the search, the sheriff’s office consulted with Dr. Terri Schmidt, a medical doctor from Oregon Health & Science University who is an expert in emergency medicine and wilderness survival. They also reached out to other experts in the search-and-rescue community for advice.

“Mrs. Russu had very limited wilderness survival experience and was not properly dressed or equipped to stay in the wilderness,” Rhodes said. “Given the heavy rain, low temperatures and high winds, the likelihood that Mrs. Russu will be recovered alive is outweighed by the extreme risk posed to searchers in this rugged terrain and wintery weather.” HuffPo

13
Feb
11

Fly Fishing: What if…………?

Body of Salem fisherman recovered

by Associated Press

kgw.com

Posted on February 13, 2011 at 12:25 PM

SALEM — Authorities have recovered the body of a 46-year-old Salem man who fell into the Santiam River Jan. 27 while fishing with a friend in Gates.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said the body of Troy Topper was recovered Saturday night after two fishermen in a drift boat spotted the body about 15 miles downstream from where he fell into the river.

The Salem Fire Department Water Surface Rescue Team assisted.

Topper was fishing from the river bank Jan. 27. He lost his footing when he went to the water’s edge to wash his hands.

His friend tried to pull him from the fast-moving, 38-degree water with a fishing pole but was unsuccessful.

The above news piece, is a sad and sobering reminder of what if’s and the attendant visuals of what friends and strangers went through over the man’s deadly mishap. I was reminded that a week ago, I hiked into the Sandy River at Oxbow Park. One spot in particular drew me and the one obstacle between me and the river was a ten foot+ high half a mile long pile of trees and debris from recent high waters. I made it to the river and out, but ignored a ‘what if?’ self check moment. What if I miscalculated and stepped into a hole at the top of the debris and plummeted downward out of sight? Sure, family knew where I was headed “Oxbow and if not there above Dodge”.

But, if I am late coming home, there is often going to be a delay filled, anxiety laden night for family and rescuers. Rescuers are not going to risk their safety climbing atop a drift pile, if they initially think I am even down in one of those crevasses of debris. Most logically they would assume I drowned or am down on a trail.

Outdoor pursuits are, of course, inherently dangerous for all manner of reasons. But, a primary danger are falls (even at home) for outdoor types.  So, my what if, self check mechanism should have been activated and more patience maintained to spare rescuers the dangers and costs and my family the nauseating gut check of their own what if’s. Exercise caution while having those alone moments and hearing the call of the river.  Condolences for the family, friends and those that recovered Mr. Topper.


17
Oct
09

GPS Tracking Device Assessment (lost, injured, overdue….will they know where you are?)

spot-300x416

“Some readers might infer that SPOT has too many problems in its present state. On the contrary, if the user is aware of and takes into account the basic limitations of the Global Positioning System and satellite communications systems, and indeed of all electronic positioning and communications systems, SPOT can be literally a life saver, and has been already. SPOT, like all GPS-based and satellite-communications-based systems is undergoing rapid development. In my discussions with the company, they are taking their mission of making an affordable emergency location device very seriously.”




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