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.
May 29, 2011
(SAR) Business is Picking Up
After the successful all-night search in Sedona, there was another call-out just a couple of days later, this one for the rescue of three stranded hikers in Sycamore Canyon, at least one of whom was suffering from a heat-related illness. Eight SAR volunteers responded to the area, while a DPS helicopter was en route. The helicopter located the subjects and lowered food, water, and a handheld radio to the young men, the latter so Search and Rescue could keep in contact with them. They didn't have enough of a cell phone signal in the canyon to make a voice call, but one of them had apparently been able to send a text message to a family member, who had then contacted 9-1-1.
I was not able to respond to the mission that night, but I talked to a team member who was there and was told the hikers had run out of food and water and eventually light. With the one hiker being ill and without provisions, they'd been unable to keep moving. After being rehydrated and re-fueled by the DPS crew and later, when Search & Rescue reached them on foot, given more food and water and warm clothes, they were able to be slowly hiked out.
Here's a story from Examiner about the mission: Lost, Sick Hikers Rescued From Sycamore Canyon Near Sedona.
Then, yesterday, the start of the Memorial Day weekend, there were two calls -- one a search for a dementia patient and another for a technical rescue near Supai at Mooney Falls, which is down in the Grand Canyon but on Indian Reservation land, not in the National Park. I was on a recreational hike at the time, quite a distance from my vehicle and then a long drive from Flagstaff, so, again, I was unable to respond.
The first mission, however, was soon called off, because the subject was located and transported by EMS. I don't yet know what happened with the Mooney Falls mission, other than the fact that, when the call-out was made, a DPS helicopter was already en route. For those familiar with the area, you know that Flagstaff is a long way from Hualapai Hilltop, the trailhead down to Supai and, from there, Mooney Falls. Our response time would be very long. But I'll update you when I learn more.
And here I sit at home, listening to wind blow up to 65mph gusts outside my office window, hanging around doing computer work and reading until the next call-out comes in. If ... or, more likely, when it comes, I'll be going.
Enjoyed reading this. Wow 65mph wind!
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