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 3, 2009
Communication Is Key
I don't mean to sound cranky. Besides, I enjoy SAR missions and the company of my teammates. But looking for those who aren't lost and who don't even know they're missing can get to be a bit of a drag. Not that we have any way of knowing that until the person is found, of course.
And not that I blame the parents for worrying and for calling 9-1-1 when they realized their grown daughter hadn't returned to their family campsite. She had left on Tuesday morning in her truck with the big horse trailer to go hunting, along with her two horses and dog. Early Wednesday morning, her parents discovered she hadn't returned. So of course they were concerned.
But apparently there had either been a miscommunication or, more likely, a lack of it, because the subject was found in good condition, oblivious to the fact that anyone was looking for her. That is, until the DPS helicopter landed nearby after spotting the truck and trailer from the air and soon made contact with her. Then those of us searching Forest Service roads heard the confirmation and "Code 4" over the radio and began making our way back to Incident Command. But I guess the never-lost lady decided to continue with what she was doing rather than return to the family's campsite to see her folks, who were very grateful for our efforts, we were told.
The team rendezvoused at our staging area, debriefed, and then drove the hour and a half back to Flagstaff, refueled the vehicles, put all of the equipment away, and went home following that 7-hour mission.
And that's about all there is to say about that one.
On another note (sort of), here's a recent article from AZCentral.com, Hikers Rescued For Free in Arizona, that you might want to take a look at. Interesting, the stark contrast between the views of Arizona SAR teams (and the National Association for Search And Rescue and Mountain Rescue Association, for that matter) and those of most people who posted comments after the article.
The article about charges for SAR was interesting. Is there a single place where all that information is stored? For instance, which states charge for rescue or what park regulations might be in effect at any given time?
I'm not sure if there's a single place to get that information, but I would think that the National Association for Search And Rescue (NASAR) could/would provide it. I don't know that it's anywhere on their website (http://www.nasar.org), but I'd expect they'd have the information if asked.
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