These are my stories as a volunteer member of the Sheriff's Search & Rescue team in Coconino County, Arizona. I'll share what it's like to go from a beginner with a lot to learn to an experienced and, hopefully, valuable member of the team, as well as the missions, trainings, and other activities along the way.
About Coconino County
About Coconino County
Encompassing 18,661 square miles, Coconino County, Arizona, is the second largest county in the U.S. but one of the least populated. Our county includes Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo, Havasupai, Hualapai and Hopi Indian Reservations, and the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world. Elevations range from 2,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado River to 12,633 feet at the summit of Mt. Humphreys in Flagstaff.
July 13, 2009
He Tweeted While He Waited
But if I were stuck up there at 11,000-some-odd feet in the dark, cold in my shorts and t-shirt and without a light, I'd be nervous and wish I could tweet away, too, I suppose. (Not that I've ever tweeted to my Twitter followers on my cell phone and don't even know how. Heck, I'm so old-fashioned, I don't even text!)
Anyhow, I spent most of last night on that same mountain I was up and down, and up and down ... and up ... and down the last time I posted, which was what? Saturday? This time, though, I drove up in the dark at about 11pm. Heck, I could just about do it with my eyes closed now!
On the way, one of my teammates said, "In SAR, we all have our 'thing.' And THIS is your thing." He was referring to me being the UTV driver. Hmm ... can I change "my thing" to something else?
So okay, where was I? Oh, the mission.
Well, it turned out fine. We drove "my little red car" up the ski run and parked it at the bottom of our STEEP short cut to intersect with the trail at around 11,400 feet, slipping on the scree slope with me grabbing at tree branches and trying not to tip over backwards--boy, would that have been embarrassing!--and, to our surprise, made voice contact with the young man as soon as we hit the trail. We'd thought he was beyond the saddle as far as the first false summit and then on a scree slope about 800 to 1,000 feet down. In fact, he was just a short distance off the trail, having missed a switchback in the dark and ended up on a boulder field. Well, good, much easier, relatively-speaking, than we'd expected.
After we handed over some Gatorade and extra clothing for the cold hiker, then explained that we wanted to descend, not down the trail but down our steeper but shorter route to the parked UTV and our subject quickly agreed, the three of us SAR members and one relieved hiker made our way back down the mountain.
The end. (For now.)
Arizona Daily Sun article: Hiker Rescued Off Of Humphreys Peak Early Monday
My latest SAR Stories News post: Search & Rescue and Social Media
Do you have the capability to locate someone by the position of the cellphone? I always wondered how accurate that was.
I don't know a lot about how that works, but there have been times during our searches where a subject's cell phone has been "pinged" and given us some idea of where they were when they made their last call, which sometimes was a call to a family member or friend, telling them they needed help. I believe there's also a way, if someone has their phone turned on--even if it's too low on battery juice to make a call or there isn't sufficient reception--to get a fix on their location and sometimes quite accurately. I did write a blog post called, Cell Phones And SAR on my other Search & Rescue blog, where I talk about this a bit and reference some articles, if you're interested in taking a look at that. I believe there's advanced technology that can be requested by SAR (from where/who I'm not sure ... FBI?) that can pinpoint the location of a cellphone if on or at least its location at the time of the last call if other means don't work. The reason I think so is because I overheard this being talked about during a mission early this year.
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