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.

While I Was Away

While I know our SAR Coordinator and assistant Coordinators have been plenty hard at work, in part with calls that ended up being resolved by deputies and means other than us volunteers, it has been rather slow when it comes to call-outs. Not that that's a bad thing, of course! But there have been some call-outs lately, all of which occurred while I was either in a SAR-related class (Incident Command System 300) or while I was away for eight blissful days at Yosemite National Park.

First, there was the call for another body recovery below Midgley Bridge in Sedona. I say "another" because, sadly, we tend to have several of these calls each year. All but one that I know of since I've been on the team have been suicides, while one near (but not under) the bridge was an accidental fall. In this latest case, it was a 60-year-old woman who died. See Woman's Body Found Below Midgley Bridge in the Arizona Daily Sun. Several of my teammates responded to this call.

Little Colorado River Gorge
Then there was a technical rescue call for a young man who'd fallen into the Little Colorado River Gorge and badly broken his leg. After a long wait due to the remoteness of the area and some misinformation from the reporting party about the victim's location, the injured man was eventually short-hauled by helicopter to the rim and then flown to the hospital.  Read Multi-Agency Effort Rescues Injured Hiker from Litle Colorado River Gorge in the Payson Daily Bugle.

As I was on my way back from the Yosemite trip, a SAR call came through about a missing "mule-rider" in the Schultz Pass area (of the San Francisco Peaks) who may also have been injured. The call was for both General (Ground) and Mounted SAR. I later found out that the missing party showed up at home on his own.

After returning home myself, I happened upon a news story stating that Search and Rescue volunteers and deputies had been sent to look for a self-reporting lost hiker on Mount Elden, who told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that he'd hurt his ankle and thought he was being stalked by wild animals. Since I never received a call-out message, I'm assuming that certain volunteers who live near Mt. Elden were called directly to make the initial response. Read Drunken Hiker Asks for Rescue to find out how that mission was resolved.

And that's about all the SAR volunteer activity I know of, other than some team trainings, while I was away. In about a week, I'll be tied up again, this time in a 5-day Inland Search Management class. Having completed the ICS-300 class last month and some other pre-requisites, I've now been added to the Ops list and will be called out if Operations Leaders are needed to prepare for a mission. So this next class will teach me more about SAR Operations and help me contribute. I'm excited! (Have I mentioned lately that I love SAR?)