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.

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Never Too Early for a Joy-Ride

It's 4 a.m. We're on our way to search for a 25-year-old man named Jason. Jason decided to take his new, yellow Yamaha ATV for a spin at 1:00 this morning, riding loops around the campsite (and his wife). On one of those loops, Jason disappeared. Hmm...

In our briefing, under the heading of "Subject," we're given Jason's age, ethnicity, height, weight, and the fact that he's wearing all black clothing. It also states, "Reported to have ETOH on board." I have no idea what that is, so, going by the context, I sort of assume it's a drug. But, shame on me: I'm soon corrected when Al explains that ETOH is a fuel additive that gives the machine extra power. (I didn't know ATVs needed extra juice; they seem plenty powerful to me in their "natural state.") I'd have thought that detail would have been listed under the heading of "Vehicle," but anyhow...

We're also informed that Jason has with him a Mini-Maglite, cigarettes, and a lighter. He has no known medical conditions. I hope, given the circumstances, that that last bit of information still holds true. Darkness, trees, ditches, cinder hills, and a souped-up ATV don't necessarily mix all that well. And there's some indication that Jason may have tied one on, or at least had a few drinks, before he went for the ride. I'm thinking this isn't sounding so good.

As Al drives, I'm silently reviewing what I learned in Wilderness First Responder class about initial scene and patient assessment. This time, the blood and broken bones might be for real.

We're almost at the campsite now, bumping along a dirt road. Deputies have already been out in the area, searching, and the DPS helicopter is in the air for an "NVG" (night vision goggle) flight. But...

Oh. Never mind. Jason just walked into camp. Code 4, we hear over the radio. His ATV broke down somewhere along the power line. Well, we don't rescue ATVs, so back to The 105 to unload we go.

Later today, at 1:00 in the afternoon as Steve and I are finishing lunch at our favorite pizza place, my pager goes off again. I call in and hear that a father and three young children got their ATVs stuck in the mud.

I hang up without leaving a message, to think this one over for a minute. So, we have to go pull them out of the mud? Do I want to do that on this lazy weekend afternoon?

Seconds later, that becomes irrelevant when my pager goes off again. 10-22. Mission cancelled. That was fast.

At 4:50 p.m., my pager beeps for the fourth time today. By now, Steve and I are at home. I call in and Sergeant D's message says there's been a snowmobile accident with injuries, and the medics need assistance with access. He needs volunteers who can drive snowmobiles and the Thiakol. Well, I did drive a snowmobile about 12 years ago up at the North Rim. Does that count?

Probably not. We have a snowmobile training coming up on March 29th, which I'm scheduled to attend, so I guess I'll have to wait till after that. Still, I wonder if they could use my help anyway. But it doesn't matter now—a fifth page with another 10-22. What a day for some search and rescue, hurry up and wait, and cancel that!