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.
December 4, 2008
Checking the SAR Line
Gee, it's been REALLY QUIET LATELY!
Ten ... nine ... eight ....
I called the SAR phone number today, to be sure the most recent message about a call-out was the last one I heard when my pager went off at 2:30am on November 24th. That mission was 10-22'd (cancelled) pretty quickly, while I was enroute to the SAR building. So I called to be sure my pager was working. Yep, I haven't missed anything. Still the same message from the 24th, about a lady missing near Williams.
seven ... six ... five ....
Before that was the plane crash in Sedona. So it's been over two weeks since we've had a call-out. Wow, I'm getting used to sleeping through the night.
Read some good Search & Rescue-type books lately, during all these quiet evenings at home (with my pager next to me, on the nightstand, of course). The first was Lost In the Yellowstone: Truman Everts's Thirty Seven Days of Peril written by Truman Everts himself, who was--you guessed it!--lost in Yellowstone (before it was a National Park). That was back in the late 1800s and apparently is still the longest anyone has gone missing in that area and been found alive (though not far from death). A thin book and a good read, but a little challenging with all of the side notes, some of which are about the concurrent movements by the rest of Evert's party and others who went looking for him.
Then I read Coming Home from Devil Mountainby Eleanor Dart O'Bryon, who was separated from her fiance while climbing Picacho del Diablo in Baja, Mexico, and both were stranded without food for nearly three weeks. Another quick read, composed mostly of interlocking journals kept by Eleanor, alone on the mountain, starving, and her father, who mounted a search effort with the Sierra Madre SAR team.
And my definite favorite of the three is Coming Back Alive: The True Story of the Most Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Ever Attempted on Alaska's High Seas by Spike Walker. For me, it was one of those, "I don't care how tired I'll be at work tomorrow, I've gotta keep reading" books. So totally distant from any experience I'll ever have, I found it fascinating. I got so hooked on the Coast Guard stuff, I now follow their news releases on Twitter.
one and a HALF.....
So no Coconino County SAR news (that I know of) to report for now. There's probably been plenty going on that just hasn't required volunteers--at least, nothing that necessitated paging the whole team. Sometimes, certain team members with a lot of experience or specific skills are called directly to help with specialized missions. We usually hear about that stuff at our monthly general meetings.
one and a QUARTER ....
But I'll be back as soon as I have something "SAR" to share.
Ever read "Lost on a Mountain in Maine"? It's the true story of a boy who got lost on Katahdin for nine days back in the '30s. He's still alive, I believe. Good case study of what NOT to do.
I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
No, I've never heard of that one. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll put it on my list!
And, hi, Alyssa ...
Glad you stumbled across my blog. I do hope you stop by again.
Deb, will you be going out on the search for the missing Tucson couple at Promontory point?
Actually, we just got back, about 16 hours later. We found the hikers, Code 4 (good condition). They'd been in their car for 36 hours. We brought them out with the snowcat, but their car is going to be there for months, most likely. Snow to the hood. I'll write a blog entry about the mission ... as soon as I get a few zzz's. Long night, but a happy ending.
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