But the SAR volunteers have responded, getting out of their warm beds and going out into the cold nights to search and rescue. At least, that was plan on several recent occasions. I've been able to respond to only one of these calls, in part because I've been away at a Ropes That Rescue class for a week (more on that later), but I've gotten the scoop from teammates. The missions have gone something like this...
Overdue hunters on horseback, not dressed for the conditions. SAR is called, drives to the search area a few hours away, and arrives just as the three are spotted by the helicopter.
Overdue hunters again. SAR responds. The helicopter spots the subjects, and SAR waits at the building for about an hour in the middle of the night until it's confirmed the lost have been retrieved.
Hunter is reported overdue near Happy Jack. SAR is called, drives an hour or so. Hunter is found at the first campsite SAR checks.
Lost hunters south of Williams, Arizona. They walked away from their truck but couldn't find their way back. So SAR responds just after midnight and arrives on the scene just after the pair are spotted and retrieved by the helicopter. One of them isn't feeling well and after being flown to the road, climbs into the waiting ambulance for treatment as SAR turns trucks and trailers around and heads home. (I responded to this one and got back into bed six hours after getting out of it, just as the sun was coming up.)
Overdue hunter near Long Lake. SAR is called around 2:30am. The team is ready to deploy from the building when the coordinator receives a call: the helicopter has spotted a campfire. SAR waits at the building until it's confirmed that the hunter and his horse have been found and rescued. (Read a synopsis of the incident on FlagScanner.com.)
Well, such is SAR sometimes. But the next time could very well be one of those times when the team saves a life. You just never know, so you go when you can.
Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills: 50th Anniversary
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