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#294630 - 01/20/20 05:56 AM The ones most at risk? Day hikers.
Phaedrus Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2542
Loc: Big Sky Country
Cool article at NatGeo! It kind of mirrors what you'd expect but those in the most danger seem to be day hikers. After all, they're more likely to have camera gear than survival gear. A gal or guy expecting to be out for a day or two is already fairly prepared.

One interesting quote:

In the study, survivors’ most frequently mentioned source of warmth was clothes (12 percent). Their prevailing form of shelter was camping gear (11 percent). Most survivors had a water source—either their own (13 percent), or one they found (42 percent), be it a lake, creek, or puddle, or derived by licking leaves or sucking moist moss. None of the survivors except one were missing long enough to make starvation an issue, but 35 percent had food they could ration to keep their energy levels up. All these data points suggest that the best way to survive getting lost in a national park is to already have the clothing and gear needed for warmth and shelter during the night, as well as some food and water.


Again, pretty much what you'd expect. Based on this I'd say leave the fishing gear and snare making equipment at home and take a BIC, a water bottle and warming layer!
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#294631 - 01/20/20 02:11 PM Re: The ones most at risk? Day hikers. [Re: Phaedrus]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7201
Loc: southern Cal
Good article and the findings pretty much accord with my experience. There is no discussion of the relative percentage of day hikers vs multi day/over night backpackers in the study group.

The article seemstofocus on hikers who lost the trail they were following, but many of our incidents resulted from injuries suffered on the hike, mostly leg fractures or sprains. I suspect a lot of folks with arm injuries self extricated.

I do take exception to this one statement:

"Search and rescue teams don’t want to create “an incident within an incident” by sending their team members on an off-trail search at dark or near dark. The standard protocol is to wait until morning."

Not in southern Arizona!! We went out immediately,looking at the most probable areas first, which were often canyons and stream beds with no trails.

I have fond memories of Christmas day, 1983, when my SAR partner and I started searching, immediately off trail, as night was falling and a storm was approaching. It rained/snowed on us all night, but we found the young lady we were searching for at daylight, about a good hour from the nearest trail. Lots of other examples....


Edited by hikermor (01/20/20 03:51 PM)
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#294633 - 01/20/20 03:05 PM Re: The ones most at risk? Day hikers. [Re: hikermor]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 860
Loc: Colorado
Makes logical sense. I bet most dayhikers that get in trouble thought they were "two hour hikers" and things got away from them.

I've seen people frighteningly unprepared above treeline in the Rockies.

It's ok to be dressed in a muscle t-shirt, jams , unlaced tennies and carrying a Big Gulp 8 miles from trailhead when the weather is nice. But it goes bad when the t-storm rolls in, the temperature drops to 40F and the hail begins.

Reading this board has made me much more thoughtful about what I carry when dayhiking compared to when I was in my 20's. (before the internet)

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#294635 - 01/20/20 06:43 PM Re: The ones most at risk? Day hikers. [Re: hikermor]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1164
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: hikermor
I do take exception to this one statement:

"Search and rescue teams don’t want to create “an incident within an incident” by sending their team members on an off-trail search at dark or near dark. The standard protocol is to wait until morning."

Well, the first part of the quoted sentence is fine (Search and rescue teams don’t want to create “an incident within an incident” ) A searcher who themselves becomes injured or lost has only added to the problem. Whether or not to send searchers out in the dark is (or certainly should be) a case by case decision. It depends on the nature of the search, urgency, weather, moonlight (or lack therof), and terrain.

The first question to ask is how much additional risk does night searching involve? In some terrain, it might be quite reasonable for experienced teams to move around at night. On the other hand, in some areas searching at night might add unacceptable levels of risk to the searchers. For example during periods of high avalanche danger, it may be very risky to send searchers into areas when they can't clearly see and evaluate what is above them. It depends.

The second question is how effective can the searchers be at night? Again, it depends. In darkness searchers might miss (or even trample) subtle clues, meaning the same area will need to be searched again in daylight. On the other hand, some clues (foot prints for example) might show up quite well with low angle illumination from a headlamp. It depends.

Note that a "search" doesn't just mean thrashing around in the brush. A good search manager looks at the big picture, and come up with a sensible strategy and tactics for each operational period. In reasonable terrain, one might continue with active searching after dark. If nighttime searching looks to be too risky or ineffective, one might suspend walking teams till daylight, but still continue other tactics. For example you could post people at trail junctions and other choke points ("containment"), and build big bright fires at other key spots ("attraction"). Or you might choose a combination, and continue ground searching in "Segments 1 & 2", but wait till morning to search "Segments 3 & 4", and also maintain containment at key spots. And some kinds of aircraft searches such as infrared actually work better at night. It depends.

Bottom line is, as always, it depends.


Edited by AKSAR (01/20/20 06:54 PM)
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#294636 - 01/20/20 07:49 PM Re: The ones most at risk? Day hikers. [Re: AKSAR]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7201
Loc: southern Cal
You make a valid point - circumstances do dictate actions. Usually, for instance, avalanches are not much of an issue in southern Arizona, whereas excessive daytime heat may be an issue; night operations sometimes offer advantages in that regard.

Our night ops were mostly in the initial stages of a search or rescue when time was more likely to be of essence. This was doubly true when extreme weather conditions were present. In protracted efforts, we generally slipped into more of an 8 to 5 mode.

SAR people have missed clues during daylight, as well as at night. If the missing person builds a fire at night, finding becomes very likely, more so than in the daytime.

I would far rather track at night than during the daytime. Sunlight, especially when high overhead, washes out details which are easily visible at night with a properly angled light. I once tracked a lady (blonde over blue, 125 pounds) for about eight miles down a trail, finally meeting her about 4:30 AM. "You hiked all night just to find me?" she inquired when we met. "Aw, shucks, mam'm; just doin' my job" I mumbled, or something to that effect.

The vast majority of our operations either began at night, or extended into darkness (80-85% perhaps). To be fully SAR capable, you must be able to operate at night; you must also be aware of conditions and adapt and adjust to them as circumstances dictate.

One final note. Night capability is very handy when you must operate in caves or mines.
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#294637 - 01/20/20 09:01 PM Re: The ones most at risk? Day hikers. [Re: hikermor]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1164
Loc: Alaska
Seems like this is another discussion we've had before?

Originally Posted By: hikermor
One final note. Night capability is very handy when you must operate in caves or mines.
In my opinion, this is a bit of a red herring argument.

Caves and mines are a very specific environment, and require specific tactics and training. For example, searching a cave is generally more a matter of searching a defined space, which in most cases can be adequately illuminated with a headlamp. It generally isn't so much of an issue of finding clues with which narrow down the search area, as it is simply looking for a person within the enclosed area of the cave. Caves might be miles long with multiple branches, but except for a few notable exceptions, caves are not wide open spaces. In a cave, your search area is clearly defined. In an outdoor search, we always have to wonder if we've made our search area large enough. A single clue might make you realize you need to expand your search to include the next valley over the ridge.

In wilderness searches, we no longer look for people. Rather, we train our searchers to look for clues. And clues might include many things besides footprints. The subject is a clue generating machine. There is only one subject, but there will be many many clues. In some cases, the absence of clues is in itself a clue. The overall logic is that if my mind and eyes are focused on looking for a person, I might easily miss a subtle clue. But if I'm looking for clues, I probably won't miss a person.

Another thing that is changing in SAR is the emphasis on conducting missions as safely as possible. Back in the day, SAR teams routinely took a lot of risks that we wouldn't take today. And it isn't just about preventing major injuries or deaths. If you twist an ankle stumbling around in nasty terrain in the dark, you are no longer part of the solution. Rather, you have become part of the problem. So the search manager always needs to do a very careful risk/benefit analysis regarding night operations. Or any other operation (including caves and mines).

An analogy might be ambulances and fire trucks. In the past, it was common for ambulances to rush to the hospital at a very high rate of speed with lights flashing and siren screaming. Great fun! Unfortunately, lots of EMS people and general public were killed or injured in accidents involving ambulances. Many jurisdictions are rethinking that, and ambulances tend to go slower and more cautiously these days. Yes, that means a few more patients will die because they didn't reach the hospital within the golden hour. But a lot more EMTs and general public will live because they didn't get in needless crashes. And just like ambulances, fire trucks now drive a lot more cautiously than they used to. And nowadays, firemen always ride inside the truck, belted in. New ambulances are being designed so that the EMT or Paramedic can ride belted in, but still care for the patient.

As I said up thread, it doesn't mean we don't search at night. It just depends.


Edited by AKSAR (01/20/20 09:19 PM)
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#294638 - 01/20/20 10:45 PM Re: The ones most at risk? Day hikers. [Re: Phaedrus]
teacher Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/14/05
Posts: 888
I've always thought this, based on the idea that day hikers are non or day equipped and backpackers ( campers) have overnight and extended stay gear. Some hikers didn't plan for a hike at all, just hopped out their cars on a nice day...


Remember the ten plus essentials and keep them handy.

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#294639 - 01/20/20 11:51 PM Re: The ones most at risk? Day hikers. [Re: Phaedrus]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7201
Loc: southern Cal
I mention caves and mines only to point out that at times and places you must inevitably operate in the dark. Caves,and especially mines, are very specialized and unique environments, with often subtle hazards.

I am not at all kidding when I label myself as a "geezer." i was reminded recently that precisely forty years ago, to the day, I was heavily involved in an epic, protracted search for Paul Fugate, NPS ranger, last seen walking down the road at Chiricahua National Monument, AZ in 1980. To this day, no trace of him has been found. So I am the voice of SAR ops past. I do not claim to be totally current on very recent developments and trends.

Although, frankly, then, as now, we were very aware of clues and traces and were definitely on the lookout for them. As an archaeologist, hopefully keen-eyed, this came naturally to me.

Nor were we oblivious to safety concerns. I, and many of my colleagues, were used to hiking at night even before getting into SAR. If one hikes at dusk, allowing the eyes to become well adapted to the dark, it is surprising how little additional light is needed. If the moon is out, so much the better.

I would say that safety has always been a concern in SAR. Certainly our group paid attention to proper training, appropriate equipment, and correct procedures - vetting and advancement to full operational capability did not come automatically by any means.

If safety is really an issue, by all means do not venture anywhere near a helicopter. Never mind hiking at night. The only SAR related memorial service I have ever attended was for two helicopter pilots, returning from a SAR mission. Thankfully, they had unloaded about four searchers just before they crashed.

I can recall one SAR related fatality. One of our best members contracted valley fever, traced to dust inhaled while driving desert roads while working extensively on a training session - all done during daylight hours.

With time, I became aware of what I termed The Golden Hour - the time right around sunrise when crews, usually out for most of the night, and right in the search area, contacted the object of the search.

There are a lot of people out there who are probably grateful that we responded quickly to their situation. Of course, there are also those to whose situation our response made no real difference at all. Sometimes you make an enormous difference, and sometimes you don't.

Good discussion
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#294641 - 01/21/20 12:42 AM Re: The ones most at risk? Day hikers. [Re: hikermor]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1164
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: hikermor
I mention caves and mines only to point out that at times and places you must inevitably operate in the dark. Caves,and especially mines, are very specialized and unique environments, with often subtle hazards.
I don't believe I ever indicated that one never operates at night. I said It Depends. I believe I also stated, quite explicitly that "Caves and mines are a very specific environment, and require specific tactics and training. "

Originally Posted By: hikermor
Although, frankly, then, as now, we were very aware of clues and traces and were definitely on the lookout for them.
I have no doubt you were. I was merely pointing out that clue awareness and clue handling have become much more emphasized that they were in the past. To a considerable degree, this is the result of work done down in your former stomping grounds. You no doubt know Dr. David Lovelock. He, among others, has been instrumental in developing the concepts of POA (Probability of Area) and POD (Probability of Detection), and how clues can be best utilized. In my experience, clue awareness is still one of the weak spots that most searchers have, even well trained ones. There is too much tendency to rush up the trail, get there fast, etc.

Originally Posted By: hikermor
As an archaeologist, hopefully keen-eyed, this came naturally to me.
If the NPS was going to build a new facility, and asked you to survey the site to make sure they wouldn't disturb any archaeological resources, would it be better to do the survey in the daytime, or at night?

Originally Posted By: hikermor
Nor were we oblivious to safety concerns.
I didn't say you were oblivious. But I do think rescuer safety does get more emphasis nowadays, than was the case in the past.

Originally Posted By: hikermor
If safety is really an issue...…
Is it ever not an issue?

Originally Posted By: hikermor
….by all means do not venture anywhere near a helicopter..... The only SAR related memorial service I have ever attended was for two helicopter pilots..
A few years ago I lost a friend, who was piloting a State Trooper helo. A Trooper and a rescue subject also died that night. In the inevitable 20/20 hindsight and investigation, it became clear that both the pilot and the Trooper management had been pushing the envelope far too hard for a long time. That mission should never have been launched. We still fly in helicopters, but there are now a much more robust risk/benefit analysis and mission approval guidelines in place. People will still die in helicopters, but hopefully not quite as many.


Originally Posted By: hikermor
There are a lot of people out there who are probably grateful that we responded quickly to their situation. Of course, there are also those to whose situation our response made no real difference at all. Sometimes you make an enormous difference, and sometimes you don't.
We do the best we can. Not all SAR stories have happy endings.





Edited by AKSAR (01/21/20 01:39 AM)
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
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#294642 - 01/21/20 04:13 AM Re: The ones most at risk? Day hikers. [Re: AKSAR]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7201
Loc: southern Cal
Here's to more happy endings!

You ask about searching for archaeological materials during the day or at night. Most archaeology occurs in full daylight, but I have on occasion worked in dark locations, needing to use a light and I have noticed that your attention is securely focused in the area outlined by the light beam, leading to more intense scrutiny and recognition. Again it all depends on circumstances - either mode can be best in certain conditions.

You mention Dave Lovelock and POA and POD. Good memories....Those concepts really improved our strategic planning and led to more rational deployment of resources and a definite improvement in the conduct of searches.

I am sure we could debate relative emphasis on clues, safety, etc. for quite some time. The statement that lit my fire was "The standard protocol is to wait until morning" That was never the case with us, although occasionally, that was indeed the best course. As you say, circumstances determine....
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