Archive for the ‘Washoe County search and rescue’ Category

A close call

December 6, 2016

Last week I was part of a team with Washoe County search and rescue that went looking for a 70 year old lady that went snowshoeing in the afternoon. She was in great shape. She took two dogs with her and expected to be out for 45 minutes. But things happen.
When she had returned to the Rendezvous point with her husband waiting, he called 911 and ask for such assistance in locating his wife.

It was a wonderful day when she went out at 2 o’clock but by 5 o’clock it had got dark and she had called on her cell phone stating that she was in a pickle.  she wasn’t very far from the road but with it being pitch black with no moon she lost her Direction and wandered off Trail.
Several search and rescue teams from Washoe County search and rescue were deployed at the trail start and the trail end.

 she was located around 10 p.m. that night but was tired and cold. She hadn’t taken normal back with winter supplies and it said she was only going to be out for 45 minutes.

 Over the past 15 years several people had perished in the same area she was found. When the teams found her, she was cold, tired and laying down directly on the snow. A fire was built in order to warm her up for her track out with the teams to our staging location.

Disaster  was averted and she was united with her husband. Again let me point out she was in very very good condition for 70 year old lady out on a snowshoe trip. But it could have turned out horribly wrong if we hadn’t been notified in time to go look for her.

 The lesson to be learned is always take  Backcountry items with you no  matter how long you’re going to be out because things happen.   always tell someone where you’re going and when you’re going to be back and if you are not back at the appointed time quickly call nine-one-one and get search and rescue out there looking for you. Time is not your friend neither is the cold weather.

Clean water

November 24, 2016

Help in the back country

November 18, 2016
  

After running from law enforcement, the SAR team rescued two suspects.Running from law esubjects who suffered hypothermia and other cold related illnesses. Photo/Provided

After running from law enforcement, the SAR team rescued two suspects who suffered from hypothermia. Photo/Provided

By Kathryn Reed

Inappropriate clothing and shoes, no plan for if things go wrong, and unrealistic expectations that a cell phone will reach help that is nearby.

This is increasingly what search and rescue teams with El Dorado County are finding. It’s the result of more people in the woods and so many of them being unprepared. The movie “Wild” has helped perpetuate the idea that inexperienced hikers will survive.

This fall two women had to be rescued near Cascade Falls because they weren’t prepared for the storm that came in even though forecasters had been talking about it for days. They said they didn’t know about the pending storm and thought spandex leggings would be sufficient. They got disoriented and told rescuers they were going to die. They didn’t – thanks to volunteers who brought them back to safety.

That’s a routine call.

The number of calls El Dorado County search and rescue crews go on has doubled since 2010. In 2015, EDSO SAR was called 89 times. (That doesn’t mean they went out each time.) In the first 10 months of 2016, SAR has been called 130 times. Most of those people don’t live in the area.

Training is necessary to keep the team sharp. Photo/Provided

Training is necessary to keep the team sharp. Photo/Provided

“People are coming to the area without physical fitness or the experience to recreate safely,” sheriff’s Deputy Greg Almos told Lake Tahoe News.

Almos runs the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department SAR program. It’s made up about 30 volunteers in Tahoe; of those about a dozen are active on a regular basis.

Eagle Falls is where they go to the most; with twisted ankles a routine issue. Many people are less than a mile from the trailhead. Their lack of fitness contributes to the initial injury and then not being able to make it out, Almos said. The altitude and weather are other contributing factors.

The veteran SAR leader is an advocate for getting people outdoors, but he also believes there needs to be responsibility and common sense. This means education before getting on the trail.

A hiker who suffered a foot injury this summer at Eagle Falls is carried to the trailhead. Photo/Provided

A hiker who suffered a foot injury this summer at Eagle Falls is carried to the trailhead. Photo/Provided

People go for day hikes without bringing another layer for when the temperatures in the mountains drop. They don’t have packs with the essentials – like enough water, food, a flashlight, even a map. Nor do they have a plan in case they don’t make it out.

“It’s amazing how many people I talk to when I discuss a save your life plan over the phone and they cannot fathom why we are not there. When I say it will take several hours to get there and that they need to make preparations to survive, and I tell them what to expect and say it could be four hours, I get arguments,” Almos said. “After 20 minutes they call to say ‘where are you?’ I ask them how long it took to get to the top of Tallac. They say six hours. I’ve had people straight up say where is the helicopter. This isn’t Uber. People have a hard time understanding that.”

Then there are the times when people don’t know where they are. It’s getting harder to trace cell phone numbers because of privacy laws. Search warrants can sometimes be obtained after the fact. That is why dispatchers ask for consent to track people’s phones.

The helicopter arrives to transport a lost person from Maggies Peak in February. Photo/Provided

The helicopter arrives to transport a lost person from Maggies Peak in February. Photo/Provided

A relatively new phenomenon searchers have been dealing with is “meet-up groups.” These are Internet-based groups where random people meet for a certain activity. They aren’t abiding by the basic protocols of hiking at the speed of the slowest person and making sure everyone returns to the trailhead.

“We are getting people who are leaving people out there. This is an epidemic I think we are going to see an awful lot more of,” Almos said.

Descriptions of what they were wearing or looked like are often vague.

Compounding the problem is friends and relatives back home who might call to report the person overdue often don’t know where the person was exactly going or with whom.

About a dozen of these calls are now happening annually.

Nothing is routine, and it’s not unusual for rescues to require technical skills – especially at Lover’s Leap and the cliff area at Vikingsholm. Climbers get stuck.

Their rescuers aren’t getting paid. Search team members provide their own gear.

It’s not unusual in the busy summer season to get back-to-back calls. Sometimes they are on a call for consecutive days. They receive training, but they all come to the “job” with a love for the outdoors and a desire to help others.

All of the volunteer search and rescue members are on-the-ground team. There is the management team that runs the command post and sets up the coordination, a Nordic team, snowmobile group, mountain rescue unit that handles extreme weather backcountry cases, and K-9 teams. The West Slope has an equestrian group and OHV.

And the people they rescue are not charged a dime.