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.
March 11, 2009
The Mystery Of The Man With The Van
A van sat, abandoned along the freeway near a scenic overlook. Items found in the unlocked vehicle prompted many questions, and those of us searching on the first day of the mission contemplated possible scenarios. Why did the subject park here? What was going on with him at the time? Where the heck did he go? We came up with quite a few answers, some rather creative.
Meanwhile, my three teammates and I spread out for a grid search, keeping each other in sight through the pinion/juniper and thick underbrush as we stumbled over loose rocks and mud. We searched along the nearby cliff band too, carefully peering over the edge. We thought we were going to find the man from the van not all that far from the road.
But we didn't find a thing, so another call-out was made for the next day. I wasn't able to go back out--Mom's needs took precedence--but a teammate told me nothing turned up on Tuesday, either. My friend said she'd walked about five miles, zigzagging across her field team's assigned segment. She said she was exhausted.
At least I know it wasn't just me. I mean, it wasn't mountaineering, but somehow I was more spent after that search than I usually am when we're on the peaks. Something about that rocky ground and climbing over barbed wire fencing all afternoon really ate through my energy reserve. Not to mention that I hadn't eaten much before, and nothing during, the search. Silly me.
So we'll see what happens with this mystery. Today, though, we're heading out for an evidence search connected with a bank robbery. Apparenly, the suspects were caught along with the cash, but there's still something out there the authorities would like to have. So if you happen to see a bunch of people in yellow shirts walking in a grid down the middle of a highway, that may just be us.
I've always wondered how you draw the line between writing about your experiences and violating a trust. And who wants to read while recovering "when we found the victim, we discovered that he was both stupid and ugly"
Yea, there aren't many details for us to go on, but this much is clear. Obviously he is an internation spy (I'm guessing from the Communist Republic of Greenland), sent to recruit local Big Foot populations to help in the overthrow of the UAW.
Or, a sightseer wandered off and teenagers partied in his van. Just call me Kreskin.
Thanks for the theories, Fred! I'll pass them along and see what everybody thinks. :)
Actually, when an investigation or search is unresolved, I should write very little about the details. As I see it, when things are public knowledge--ie. in the news--then it's fine for me to write about those details too, but I often leave real names to the newspapers and omit them from my blog entries. (Not always, but a lot). And then I can add my own personal experience and, to some extent, my views to flesh it out a bit. After all, this is supposed to be about my experiences, not those of the team or the rescue-ees.
I really do try not to insult anyone, and, most of the time, I'm not thinking, "Oh, how stupid was that" or something to that effect about the people we go out and rescue. I'm just glad when things work out okay, and seeing the "subject's" relief often makes me feel less critical of whatever they might have done to get into the pickle in the first place. I mean, we all sometimes learn from making mistakes. And sometimes it was just a matter of bad luck or a plain old accident. I do occasionally point out where I think someone went wrong, but, hopefully, I've done it in a way that wouldn't tick the person off if they read it.
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