Jul 29, 2014

Sierra Madre Search & Rescue: Injured Hiker, Team Training

The year has started out quietly for the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue (SMSR) Team. The team responded to three calls for assistance in January.

Sierra Madre Search & Rescue: Injured Hiker, Team Training

From Sierra Madre Search & Rescue:

During the month of January 2013, Sierra Madre Search and Rescue (SMSR) responded to three calls for assistance. Details on a selection of the team's recent activity are described below.

Jan. 13: The Team responded to the West Fork area of San Gabriel Canyon to support the San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team in the search for a missing hiker. The initial request came at 12:30 a.m. and several small 2 and 3 person search teams were assigned the task of covering all the trails and side canyons near the Bear Creek area. Ground searchers were joined by helicopters that aided in the search effort and insertion of field crews at key locations. Additional SMSR personnel assisted the incident commander (IC) at the command post with generating detailed maps of the search areas, crew assignments,and logging details of areas that had been searched. As field crews were returning to the command post and preparations were underway for operations the next day, the missing hiker was located near the West Fork Road below Cogswell Dam. The hiker was cold and had been slightly injured in a fall. He was treated by rescuers and transported to a local hospital by LA County Fire helicopter. The operation was secured at 7:30 p.m. that same evening.

Jan. 11-12: Locals are familiar with SMSR’s response to emergencies in our local mountains, but are less familiar with the training that goes into preparing for these emergencies. The ability to safely spend extended periods of time in the mountains during any conditions is essential in ensuring team members can help a lost or injured individual. A good example of how the team prepares is illustrated through the recent winter training the team held on Mt. Baldy Jan. 11-12. Team members hiked into the Baldy Bowl area above Manker Flats and established a camp in the snow at approx. 8,500 feet above sea level. This gave newer team members an opportunity to practice camping skills in winter conditions and refine their personal skills and seasoned members a chance to expand and share their skills. The ability to safely take care of oneself is vital before a rescuer can render any aid. Overnight temperatures into the single digits reminded everyone that our local mountains can be in hospitable places for those that are not prepared.

A cold and clear morning dawned for what would be a full day of training in the snow. Team members split into two groups with one group working on ice ax self-arrest and snow travel skills while the other built a series rescue systems. Patient packaging and evacuation skills in winter conditions were all part of the training program. These hours of training and practice contribute to the team’s readiness and ability to respond, as our motto says, “Anywhere in the wilderness that someone needs help…”.

For more than 60 years the all-volunteer Sierra Madre Search and Rescue team has been responding to calls for help in the local mountains and beyond. Funded entirely by private donations, SMSR provides a range of public programs on wilderness safety in addition to its search and rescue activities. The Team never charges for any of its services.

For more information, including how to arrange a wilderness safety demonstration for yourschool or group, visit www.smsr.org.

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