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#262493 - 08/13/13 04:47 PM SAR (Search and Risk)
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7328
Loc: southern Cal
First of all, let me thank Quietly Learning for his most kind words:

"I want to thank hikemor, aksar and everyone else on this forum who has or still does put their life at risk to make sure the rest of us make it home everytime we play in the outdoors."

The truth of the matter is that the greatest risk on the typical SAR incident is the drive on established roads to base camp, basically the normal, routine sort of chance that nearly all of us take every day as we live normal lives.

Most SAR incidents are pretty routine -typically an overdue hiker who might be a bit hungry or thirsty but who is in no real trouble. Even when injury is involved or something more significant, the volunteer typically has the background, experience, and equipment to deal with the situation. "There is no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothing."

Nearly all organizations (I know of no exceptions) adopt the protocol of not committing personnel to clearly risky environments (avalanche prone slopes, for example) until the hazard is controlled. Rescuers lives, as a matter of policy, come first.

Our group has always provided speakers and demonstrators for the public and schools, giving presentations on outdoor safety - a less spectacular effort, but often quite effective means of increasing outdoor safety awareness. Now with the internet, a forum like ETS is highly influential in raising safety awareness and fostering good practice. I doubt that any of the regular participants here will require significant outside assistance - they are far more likely to be providing aid themselves.

After all, self rendered aid is the aid that is most likely to be effective. With even the most effective and conscientious rescue groups, there is almost always an inevitable lag time in response, and the "Golden Hour" is typically squandered - so keep that FAK handy!

Even so, it is inevitable that people do die while participating in rescues. I can recall two fatalities in Yosemite Valley - one rescuer walked off a switchback on the Yosemite Falls trail and another (within this year) fell during a helicopter operation. For my money, YOSAR is a highly competent and effective organization, blending both professionals (NPS Rangers) and "volunteers" (typically valley rock climbers who do receive pay when engaged in an operation) - an outfit that has established new standards, especially for technical rescue. And there is definitely risk working beneath a hovering helicopter at night. But you could also find your home swallowed by a sinkhole in flatland Florida - risk is inevitable in life.
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#262495 - 08/13/13 11:16 PM Re: SAR (Search and Risk) [Re: hikermor]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2828
Loc: La-USA
The USAF and USCG will launch regardless of weather conditions when life is on the line. If the primary air field has weather too bad to launch, a resource(s) will be launched from an airfield that is close by with launchable weather conditions.

USCG vessels can and do get underway during some of the worst weather, as I know from personal experiences.
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#262497 - 08/14/13 01:32 AM Re: SAR (Search and Risk) [Re: wildman800]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7328
Loc: southern Cal
As you state, maritime usage is somewhat different. Some years ago, an Alaskan Airlines jet plummeted into the sea just off of Anacapa Island (Channel Islands National Park). The sea state was such that day that trips had been cancelled. When the accident occurred, an NPS vessel launched immediately. Clearing the harbor mouth, a large wave rocked the boat, catching one of the rescuers unaware and breaking a leg. The vessel continued on toward the accident site and participated in recovery operations.
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#262499 - 08/14/13 03:06 AM Re: SAR (Search and Risk) [Re: hikermor]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2828
Loc: La-USA
May 1978, we steamed at max speed in zero visibility for 32 miles from Ft Walton Beach, Fl to Escambia Bay to conduct rescue and salvage ops of a Boeing 727 airliner crash. We and they were lucky, only 3 deaths. I pass that spot at least twice a month and I still remember the events vividly each time.

It was quite the experience for a 19 year old Seaman Apprentice.
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QMC, USCG (Ret)
The best luck is what you make yourself!

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#262503 - 08/14/13 05:36 AM Re: SAR (Search and Risk) [Re: hikermor]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1436
Thanks for the clarification!

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#262505 - 08/14/13 12:04 PM Re: SAR (Search and Risk) [Re: wildman800]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7328
Loc: southern Cal
What is the saying? - "You do have to go out; you don't have to come back".

In February, 1986, I was working on San Miguel Island and I had the entire island to myself. It had been raining steadily and then it began to pour. I was in good shape in a well stocked, weather tight cabin, but I felt just a little bit sorry for myself because I realized that I was totally cut off - neither boat nor plane could reach the island and the clouds were too low for normal helo ops. About 4:30AM, channel 21 came alive as the CG responded to aid a sinking fishing vessel about fifty miles west of the island. I rolled over and thanked my lucky stars for an unsinkable island.
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#262507 - 08/14/13 03:58 PM Re: SAR (Search and Risk) [Re: hikermor]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
God Bless all SARs and those who come to our rescue. And as I try to point out in the nwhikers forum, don't forget your local SARs when it comes time to making charitable donations. SARs run mostly on volunteers and they do a helluva job. Typically there is a SAR near you organized on a county basis, and SARs also operate where you like to hike and climb. Remember them all if you can, and what they do, selflessly and free of charge. Whether or not you have ever needed assistance, they're there for you and others who do. So it does no harm and will also build karma if you post a check for as little as $25.

And those who are able, SARs are always looking for a few good folks. Not always the most physically fit, but also ham Comm Team and often 4x4 contingents who are willing and available to assist. Come for the training which is excellent and may be valuable in other preparedness contexts - stay for the hook of helping others in need.

- no financial interest in or affiliation with SARs except having watched the local King, Pierce, Chelan and Kittitas Co SARs work for the past 30 years. Amazing people.

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#262535 - 08/16/13 12:40 AM Re: SAR (Search and Risk) [Re: hikermor]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Heartfelt thanks, respect and admiration for all who do SAR. It takes a special person to put themselves in peril to help out their fellow man.
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