Category Archives: BUSAR

BUSAR Update – February & March

20170313_124136.jpg

Prepare for takeoff…

Training – 

Cobrathon – We created a land navigation course over at the BigPig Outdoor’s training site. Each leg of the course has a skill associated with search & rescue, medical, survival, tracking, or fitness once you make it to your objective, like the “5 minute fire” or “5 minute shelter” challenges.

Survival 101 – BUSAR’s own, Dusken Sledge, spent his time in the creek and completed the Survival 101 course.

20170312_141148.jpg

Smokies Tech Team – Focused on patient packaging and prepping for interagency training later in the month

20170306_114632

Interagency Training – BUSAR joined the National Park Service, TN Army National Guard, and TN State Parks for a three day training event at Pickett State Park and Obed WSR. We worked on high angle rescue, tech skills, and swiftwater rescue.

Responses – 

  • Baxter Creek Trail knee injury – self rescued
  • Silers Bald carryout 51 y.o. male – stood down after helicopter hoist

Team Workouts – Borkowski returned from New Mexico, so we welcomed him back with a 60 pound sandbag carry for the night in addition to his kettlebell and pack.

Cobra Lair Demo Workout – Several guys came up to help demo some walls for our future build. Armed with only sledgehammers, wheelbarrows, and testosterone, we had a great workout.

IMG_0210.JPG

20170319_120421 - Copy20170319_135952

20170319_190337

rubble

BUSAR Update – December & January..

20161210_115057

Training – We trained at Lookrock in both December and January. December focused on hypothermia treatment, SKED packaging, and high angle recovery.

January focused on multiple reps of steep angle, with sessions after dark as well.

Morgan and Sharbel also completed BigPig Outdoor’s Survival 101 course in January.

And the Jernigator did a little run up Groundhog Ridge manway..

Responses – 

  • Grieco, Ransom, Sharbel, Campbell, Sledge, Jernigan, Geist, Wadley, and Lewis responded to the crash of N1839X. Plane crash in the Smokies
  • Grieco responded to missing AT hiker at Peck’s Corner

Team Workouts – 2017 marks the end of 35 pound kettlebells as we up it to 45 pounders. Thank you for the loyal service and punishment you have brought to the team…

15822560_1553050094711995_2153946746924245969_n

 

Recruitment – 

  • Jeff Wadley – Former Lt Colonel in Civil Air Patrol and SAR theory junkie. Literally wrote the book on plane crashes in the Smokies – Mayday, Mayday
  • Ben Harrell – Former Civil Air Patrol ground team leader and computer wizard

fb7ae39c8c17d1ed32a65b97f5b72d93

BUSAR November Update – Birthday Bucket List Trip..

superhero

What do you get the team superhero for his 74th birthday? A trip on their bucket list of course.. Happy Birthday to my good friend and team member Doc Miller! His AAR follows:

AAR: BUSAR Old-Manventure: Porters Creek Manway-Lester Prong-Tourist Bunion-Dry Sluice Manway

November 12, 2016

One goal of BUSAR training has been for members to become familiar with the unmaintained manways in the GSMNP along which off trail hikers may easily lose their way. The Porters Creek area, in particular, attracts hard-core bushwhackers and has been the source of recent high profile search efforts (Morgan Briggs missed the manway and wound up on Porters Mountain, 2009–Jenny Bennett was found in Lester Prong off the manway, 2015). In the 80’s manways from the Greenbrier area were fairly open up to the Appalachian Trail. It is still possible to reach Charlie’s Bunion, near the Appalachian Trail, from the Greenbrier section of the Park beginning at the Porters Creek Trailhead at 1900 feet, following the trail to Backcountry Campsite 31, then continuing via old manways up Porters Creek and Lester Prong to reach the steep upper ridges of the Bunion. Last December the Goat led the BoBerry Manventure (BUSAR – Real Bunion) up Porters Creek Manway and the first tributary of Lester Prong to the real Charlie’s Bunion via the Pyramid, then descended via the Dry Sluice Manway.

This year he planned to lead the team up a generally parallel route following the second tributary of Lester Prong up to the “Tourist Bunion” located on the above map just above the “R” in “TRAIL” at 5536 ft. elevation.

Three promontories are variously referred to as Charlie’s Bunion, thus resulting in confusion at times.

Jenny Bennett clarified this in one of her several blogs about the area:

(Real Bunion)

The Charlie’s Bunion designated on the USGS topographic map is also known as Rocky Craig. BUSAR

scaled that via Pyramid Rock in 2015. The next ridge to the west culminates in Middle Craig. The next promontory, further west, is variously called the Tourist Bunion or Bunion Craig. That was the objective of our training on this day.

The plan was to approach via the vanishing Porters Creek Manway and Lester Prong, then scale the ridge

and top out on the Tourist Bunion (Bunion Craig). We would complete the loop by descending steeply via Dry Sluice Manway to Porters Creek Manway above Campsite 31. As the date approached, Andrew announced “Alex has home improvement obligations, so I am polling the group to see who still wants to climb the Tourist Bunion this Saturday? There is a LOT of exposure, potential of death, and once you commit, you can’t down climb”. Another option was vertical training at Look Rock, but when Dusken instantly replied “I opt for the one involving death” it was game on. Sharbel assumed the role of team leader. Andrew, Common Man, Dusken, Johnny and I rounded out the team.

Andrew described the route as “trail to manway to scramble to trail to manway to trail”. Many thanks to Goat, Sharbs and Stronger than the River who had run much of it during their 6.5 hour scouting trip the previous week. Sharbel planned the day as follows: “let’s all meet at the Porters Creek trailhead at 0730 on Saturday so we can go over our plan of attack and hit the trail by 0800. Pack light as there are some tight spots to get through. The creek should be flowing decently so we will be ok on a water source for the majority of the hike. I won’t tell anyone they cannot do this hike but if anyone has doubts about themselves I would say to sit it out. Once we leave the creek we are going straight up and through some pretty thick veg. Once we get to the scramble there are some exposed areas where death is a possibility and going back isn’t an option. I think the trip will take 8-9 hours. Maybe quicker if we want. See y’all at the trail.”

Ten days before my 74th birthday I was having doubts about whether my participation would prevent the elite team of exceptional athletes from completing the mission before darkness fell. I had been longing to make the trip, and was confident that I could do it, but not if it would diminish the enjoyment and comfort level of the team who might consider me a liability. I thought secretly of doing what I considered to be honorable and let the team carry on without me when the going got tough. I would enjoy the glory of the day in quiet contemplation along beautiful Porters Creek, pondering the off trail adventures of Jenny Bennett and my late friend Charlie Klabunde in one of their favorite places, until the team returned.

Phase one unfolded as planned. Everyone reached the rally point at precisely the same time. It was a beautiful clear Fall day, warm for November, with light winds predicted on the ridge tops. When the team reached the end of the trail at Campsite 31, I was about 10 minutes behind. Knowing the real manventure was just beginning, I tactfully pointed out the fact that the day promised only 10 hours and 20 minutes of daylight, we had left the trailhead an hour after sunrise, and it might take all of the remaining light and more to complete the loop at my speed. I suggested that I linger in the area while the team proceeded at their usual high-speed pace. At that point, a great day became a fantastic day.

King Cobra declared that he wasn’t going on if I didn’t. The team unanimously rejected my proposal and unselfishly insisted that we would accomplish the goal together. What followed was one of the greatest displays of teamwork and teambuilding that I have experienced.

For most, it was literally a walk in the park, for some it was an opportunity to function outside their comfort zone, for me it was a test of physical ability and endurance and a life-changing experience which I will never forget.

The rhododendron tunnels of the old Porters Creek Manway were less tight than I had anticipated, thanks to the pruning efforts of some whom Jenny Bennett fondly referred to as “certain eccentric humans that I know”.

cr

The drought made the trip up Porters Creek and Lester Prong dry and easy.

cairn

The way was marked by occasional cairns, some of which are very impressive.

It is important to correctly identify the confluence of Porters Creek and Lester Prong* and then to count the tributaries joining Lester Prong. The finger ridge up to the Tourist Bunion lies between the second and third tributaries of Lester Prong. The team verified this with the GPS. Even such skilled backcountry navigators as Jenny Bennett, who used only map, compass, altimeter and terrain association (not GPS) have misidentified the tributaries (Tourist Bunion).

One must know which tributary you are ascending in order to climb out of it in the correct direction.

*The cremains of Charlie Klabunde and Jenny Bennett were spread at the confluence of Porters Creek and Lester Prong. Jenny’s Last HikeSharbel led us up the third tributary, following the mostly dry but nonetheless beautiful remote streambed, to approximately 4400 ft. elevation.

At that point, travel became more difficult as we climbed through dense vegetation, belly crawling at times, to scale the ridge to our East. It was often necessary to be within 10 feet of the one climbing above you to maintain visual contact. Once we were on the ridge, the real adventure began–as did the teamwork that I mentioned.

d

The final 1000 feet of elevation rose progressively more steeply as the beauty and exposure increased in inverse proportion to the width of the knife edge ridge.

sh

Jenny Bennett’s words echoed in my mind – “There’s lots of handholds and footholds—it just happens there’s a lot of air around it, too. So it becomes an exercise in positive thinking. In other words, focus on what’s there instead of what’s not there.”

Andrew schooled me in proper handholds and techniques on the flaky Anakeesta shale formation where Sand Myrtle has a tenuous, untrustworthy toehold. Common Man was right behind me to check my footholds and boost me when my old joints prevented me from reaching where I wanted, and needed, to be. In the absence of rope, body belays for the stiff and rusty “Tin Man” were improvised using a page from Jason’s Swiftwater Rescue playbook when topography exceeded the extent of my flexibility. Sharbel, Dusken and Johnny were also part of the human chain.

Considering the consequences of a slip and fall into the adjacent nearly vertical scree-filled ravine, the team literally put their lives on the line for the benefit of the weakest link, just as they would in a rescue situation. They have the skill and experience to assess and manage the risk and to do it safely. This is why we train as we do. As a proud member of this team I never had any concerns or doubts about completing the mission safely.

me

Jenny J cheered us up the final pitches from her vantage point on the Appalachian Trail. She would have been part of the crew but for a knee injury.

te

Andrew sighted a Peregrine Falcon overhead, a great omen, as we enjoyed a brief lunch and photo op on the “Tourist Bunion” while visiting with “tourists” who had come by way of the Appalachian Trail.

te2

Like many of them, I had enjoyed the breathtaking view from this spot many times before, and in many seasons, only dreaming of reaching the Bunion the hard way. I never imagined I would have the opportunity, and certainly not at age 74. I am deeply indebted to this team who has accepted, supported, encouraged and trusted me to participate.

We were burning daylight and it was time to go down – fast! Of course that was part of the plan and our route lay 15 minutes to the East along the Appalachian Trail. Sharbel led us right to the top of the obscure Dry Sluice Manway and we began our descent to Porters Creek.

ds

Common Man stayed with me and Johnny kept us in sight while maintaining visual contact with the leaders. The steep descent of the open Dry Sluice gave way to intimate rhododendron tunnels in the upper reaches of Porters Creek Manway which has been flagged with yellow tape. We rallied at Campsite 31 and then hit the trail together for the last leg. Common Man hung with me while Johnny continued to bridge the gap between us and the leaders. It was indeed after dark when we reached the trailhead by the light of a brilliant Super Moon. Cheerful, unselfish team members – who held team above self – waited in the cold darkness to debrief our “fantastic” adventure which was a high point in my life.

Thank you brothers…..BUSAR!

chimneytops2fire_imt_photo-900x572

To make my long story short, it was my first day back with the park, when I got assigned to the fire. After coming of a lookout detail on Ski Mountain, I was tasked with evacuating the headquarters building with another wildlife ranger, Ryan Williamson. We cleared the building out and then were tasked to remove trees of the Gatlinburg Bypass for the evacuation.

Ryan and I started cutting trees when the embers started falling, causing spot fires to erupt on both sides of the road. We called in that it was no longer a safe route and watched the convoy roll out Two Mile. Things were getting pretty crazy at this time, with winds driving a canopy fire up the ridges.

There was a lot going on the radio, but somewhere in there we got word to head to the Spur, the section of road connecting Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge, to clear downed trees. The Spur was one of the main evacuation routes for thousands of residents. As soon as we cleared the city limits, we started running into downed trees and cut them out as we headed towards Pigeon Forge.

Word came over the radio that trees were blocking the road at Gnatty Branch and we hit stand still traffic shortly after. I jumped out and started hoofing it through the traffic, thinking Ryan would catch up as traffic eased forward. The traffic wasn’t moving, so Ryan ditched the truck and set out on foot, catching up to me later on. It is hard to estimate, but we both agreed that we probably walked through 1.5 miles of traffic to get to Gnatty Branch.

At one point a father and son team came running up, talking to me briefly, then started running ahead. Predictably, this caused some drivers to panic and exit their vehicles thinking there was a need to run. Fearing they would abandon their vehicles compunding the problem, I assured them we would get the traffic rolling.

Arriving at Gnatty Branch, the rangers had already diverted traffic to travel in the opposite direction on the South bound Spur. Ryan, Rob, and I cut out the tree that was blocking the road. While cutting on that tree an officer from Pigeon Forge rolled up and said there was a burning tree up ahead that was blocking the road, so I jumped in with him to go clear it.

Around this time, my phone started blowing up and I got the following email from my neighbor on the other side of the mountain about a fire 1 mile from the cabin:

emergency!  please call 911…there is a fire across the lake and it has burned out all of our phone lines.  I tried 911, but lins were burning and I’m not sure emergency went out.  Please call!!!

After calling the local fire department, I frantically tried contacting my wife to get her and my son to evacuate to safer grounds. With no luck, I was able to get the dispatcher at Graham County to get one of the volunteer firefighters to contact her. By far, that was the most stressful half hour of the night for me, observing the chaos at hand and knowing that my family would be trapped if the fire spotted close to them.

Once we cleared the North bound lanes, we shifted to the South bound, then back to the North bound, and repeating the loop until 2 am to keep it open for emergency responders. With fire on both sides of the road, houses and condominiums ablaze, and the repetitious explosions of propane tanks venting, it will be a night that both Ryan and I will never forget. Wind gusts were clocked at 85 mph that night, and at one point, I had to brace Ryan to keep the wind from pushing him into the tree he was cutting.

I started wildland firefighting 16 years ago and have seen some pretty crazy fire behavior on western details, but the firestorm surpassed anything I could have imagined in this area. The fact that the fatalities are not in the thousands, is a testament to the rangers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel that were out there that were on the front lines with us that night.

 

Several other BUSAR team members responded through their home units in the days after the firestorm; Doc Miller, Jason Benjamin, & Matt Jernigan. While my response was not through BUSAR, I give credit to the team for keeping me in “fighting” shape, both physically and mentally.

BUSAR’s Jason Benjamin also wrote a great Facebook post about his observations while leading an inter-agency structural crew in the days following the fire:

What the Gatlinburg fire reminded me about humanity:

I’ve avoided social media for the past several months because I was tired of being told how divided our country was. Every time I logged on to Facebook my news feed was flooded with terrible, hateful posts. People I had always known to be thoughtful and considerate were spewing venom at anyone that disagreed with them. Lines were drawn and friends became enemies as they called each other names like “deplorable”, “elitist”, “misogynist”, “hack” and “bigot”. As a military veteran and career firefighter, I’ve spent nearly 30 of my 47 years helping people. I could no longer put up with being inundated by the constant fury and vitriol. I even deleted a few people from my social media because of the hate they displayed.

I spent two days in Gatlinburg last week fighting fire and searching for victims on my days off from the fire department I work for. The staging area was in the same building as the shelter for those that had to leave their home. The moment I arrived on the first day, I saw dozens of the local residents that were staying in the shelter. Before I could get inside to check myself and my teammates in, I was thanked and blessed ten different times by strangers. The pain in their eyes and voices was heartbreaking. I already had faces to put with the stories I’d been hearing and I hadn’t even checked in yet.

Shortly after checking in, I was asked to lead a Battalion made up of firefighters and equipment from all over the Southeast. There were local departments represented, as well as departments from as far away as Cherokee, NC and Manchester, TN. All of us were there for the same reason and we couldn’t wait to get to work. Although our primary mission was searching for victims, we spent the entire morning putting out brush fires and rekindled house fires. It wasn’t until after we took a break for lunch that we finally got the chance to look for victims. At times, the smoke was thick, but we kept working for as long as we could. No one wanted to quit.

I spent the first day back at my fire department thinking about what I had seen in Gatlinburg. I thought about all the people that sincerely thanked us for being there. I thought about the victims we’d found and the ones that were still out there. I thought about the men and women that volunteered to be there because they wanted to help. I thought about the newly-broken families. I thought about the senseless pain and suffering. I thought about the tragedy.

I can’t say when it occurred to me, but at some point I thought about how I hadn’t seen hate. I hadn’t heard anyone mention politics. None of that mattered at that point in time. All that mattered was people were facing the worst nightmare of their lives and other people came from near and far to do anything and everything they could to help. I witnessed strangers helping strangers. I saw immigrants from Latin America and India sharing cups of coffee and tea with native East Tennesseans and no one was talking about building walls. They were talking about rebuilding their homes and businesses. No one seemed to care if the person sitting next to them was here legally. They did, however, make it very clear they were glad they made it out of the fire safely.

I’ve had a few days to process most of what I saw in Gatlinburg. As awful as it was, there is so much to be thankful for. A lot was lost during the fire, but so much more was saved by the brave men and women that stayed to fight and the thousands that showed up later. I’m thankful I had a chance to play a small part in it, but I’m most thankful for what the Gatlinburg fire reminded me about humanity:

Regardless of how much we disagree, we will always come together and fight to survive and protect each other. We are humans and we have not lost our humanity. We are not as divided as I thought. We just temporarily forgot what it means to be humane.

15337521_10154850200879602_7619032848203451625_n

 fb7ae39c8c17d1ed32a65b97f5b72d93

October BUSAR Update…

20161009_063817

Manventure – 

Since my birthday falls in October, I get to pick the training mission for the team. I believe that some aspects of life are best appreciated when under adverse conditions, so I pulled out my list for planning..

  • Cold water   √
  • Cold weather  
  • Minimal gear  
  • Tough terrain  
  • Sleep deprivation  

Last year, we crossed the Smokies via Ekaneetlee manway and swam Fontana to our pickup. 2015 trip This year, I figured I would switch it up and invade Tennessee from the North Carolina side of the park, traversing 3/4 of the park, mostly off trail.

Drop off’s would done at night in Fontana Lake, with each team not knowing their location. They would have to determine their location and rally at a UTM point. The simple rules were that you could not use established trails, except for Jenkins Ridge up to Spence,  and sleeping gear would only be jackets and garbage bags. We would follow the Defeat Ridge manway from the AT down to Middle Prong trailhead.

Night swim..

20161007_20010520161007_202328

Determining location..

20161007_210957

Somewhere on Horsehoe Ridge…

Foraging and tracking..

Rally points, pullup contest winner, and Defeat Ridge manway…

20161009_063951

Routes in red, purple, and yellow..

map

Rescue Swimmer II – 

Herrington, Jutkofsky, Jernigan and Grieco knocked out the final part of the  Public Safety Rescue Swimmer course. BUSAR’s Jason Benjamin instructed. Lots of water time, simulated rescues and a night scenario.

20161011_172727

GRSM Tech Team Training – 

Herrington and Grieco attended the Smokies Tech Team training focusing on patient packaging and setting up a highline.

20161025_142715

VDEM SAREX – AAR by Doc Miller

I received Andrew’s text regarding the Abrams Creek carry out just as I pulled into Hungry Mother State Park in Marion Virginia where I was participating in a SAR Simulation during the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Ground Search and Rescue Academy on Black Diamond’s home turf. I regret the timing and would otherwise have been at Abrams Creek to help.
The VDEM SAR Academy is like nothing Tennesseans have ever seen. It begins Friday evening and ends Sunday evening for two week-ends hyphenated by a one week-end hiatus.   Intensive certification classes run simultaneously for the disciplines of Search Team Member, Search Team Leader, “Fundamentals for Awareness, Signcutting and Tracking” and Search Management. The finale is a Simulated SAR Exercise which commences at dusk on the final Saturday.  Although there was not a Management Team class this session, a scenario is customarily presented and all of the planning, searching and “rescue” is executed by the students under the eyes and ears of silent and often unseen “angels” who monitor and evaluate the process.  When necessary, some functions are augmented by prior graduates to achieve critical mass for a meaningful exercise. Typically there are multiple subjects, one of whom requires medical evaluation, “treatment”  and litter evacuation. This year there were two “family members” who had become lost while searching for the subject who originally went missing and was “injured” off trail.
A number of BUSAR members have worked with VDEM certified STM, STL, FAST and management personnel during the Virginia SAR Conference and the Blue Ridge Parkway SAREX earlier this year. There were four BUSAR participants in this October SAR Academy.
Rob and Ashley were FAST Instructors, Jenny was a Search Team Member candidate, and it was my privilege to function as Search Team Leader for a superbly trained FAST (clue aware, track aware, tracking) team. When assigned to a tracking or K9 team, the “leader’s” role is to provide communications, navigation, documentation and, if trained, medical support so the specialty teams can focus their awareness and observational expertise on the task with negligible distraction. Night operations add to the fun and challenge and provide valuable operational experience to the candidates for certification.
An added bonus of this Simulation was the opportunity to observe the real time location and movement of every field team on a computer projection screen in Base. The data was streamed automatically from DeLorme InReach satellite communicators which were assigned to each team along with their radio.
Computer Projection in Operations Section in Base
FAST Team Hotel Task: “Cut for sign along lake shore from Route 16 to drainage @ 5327/8229”.
We began the task at the bottom of screen and cut the sign which came from the opposite direction, then
made a big circle up to the bath house and back to the beach.
Another team’s search pattern is seen on the lower portion of the screen before it was redirected
to the  injured subject to assist in evacuation from his location seen on the upper portion of the screen.
Multiple teams converging at victim location to assist with litter evacuation.
Evacuation route of multiple teams to and from location of injured subject near top of screen to
Base near bottom of screen.
 
Participation in a Simulation provides the actual experience of signing into a search, waiting in Staging for an assignment, receiving a briefing (instructions) for the task, navigating to the designated search area, executing the task while communicating location and status reports, being debriefed, and signing out from the search. Those BUSAR members who attended the Blue Ridge Parkway SAREX experienced a similar immersion during daylight hours. These are invaluable skills for efficient, effective search and rescue.  The training, including meals and lodging, is free to any member of an agency holding a Memorandum of Understanding with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Black Diamond SAR Council serves SW Virginia and has responded in northeast Tennessee and in the Smokies.
Doc

Responses – 

  • Johnston and Morgan responded to Abrams Creek carryout

Workouts – Finally cooling off. Greg is getting ready to test for a Combat Rescue Officer slot in Alaska, so we have been doing a lot of military PT to support him. Lots of pullups, pushups, situps, and flutter kicks. His PT test is at the beginning of December in Anchorage.

14611026_1447049181978754_1479554784971116088_n14712499_1453812311302441_4703742254136644540_o20161018_194336

Recruitment – 

  • Johnny Johnston –  Mountaineer, off-trail explorer, and Crossfitter

BUSAR Anniversary Update – September

20161006_224810.jpg

BUSAR celebrated it’s one year anniversary this month!! Looking back, I am extremely proud of the missions and training accomplished this past year. Huge thanks to Steve Kloster and Jared St. Clair for supporting the idea and our team.

  • August – Smokies Litter Team day
  • September – Georgia Orienteering race
  • October –  Ekaneetlee ManVenture
  •  November – Rob Spieden Tracking class
  • December – Porter’s Creek, Lester Prong, “real” Bunion & Survival 101
  • January – Survival 101 & Downed plane search exercise
  • February – Survival 101 & Interagency SAREX
  • March – Skedco Manway carryout
  • April – K9 training, BTRT-E, Virgina SAR conference, litter team day & Smokies Tech Team
  • May – BLRI SAREX
  • June -BUSAR tech training, Swiftwater I & Black Diamond Vertical Training
  •  July – Swiftwater II & Black Diamond Vertical Training
  •  August – Swiftwater II & Black Diamond Vertical Training

Workouts – Crushing it as the weather cools off.. A couple of us needed to knock out the pack test, so we created the “SAR-duous” duty pack test. First three miles is standard USFS test – 45# in 45 min plus and additional 2 miles, switching out to SAR packs and carrying 35# kettlebells

14463199_1439180019432337_7326225810027265114_n14369913_1432419163441756_5314857098760926435_n14368746_1426602847356721_8339664914869548592_n14233133_1419389658078040_8951250911881976880_n

Rescue Swimmer 1 – Herrington, Grieco, and Jernigan started the Public Safety Rescue Swimmer course, taught by Jason Benjamin. More info here:Rescue Swimmer

14142044_1415780628438943_8365989948474815761_n

14238330_1415780681772271_4276278664425842947_n

Black Diamond Vertical Training weekend 4BUSAR was again well represented at the final Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training of the 2016 season. Excluding  our dedicated, exceptional Instructors Daniel Murray, Greg Osborne, Victoria Airey and the legendary Bob Barlow (caving, innovating and instructing since the sixties) BUSAR members comprised half of the class! King Cobra, Dusken and his Lady. Danny and I proudly showed the BUSAR colors.
 
 
After the students rigged the drops, the day was spent on rope learning new skills, practicing those previously acquired, and completing the Basic and Advanced Rope Techniques Skills check-off process: ascending, rappelling, pick-offs, ascending and descending past knots, transferring from one rope to another while climbing and descending, and
 
                                                 
 
  Figuring out how to climb with a Rope Walker or make a climbing system from 3 random “parts”
 
                  .
 
It was another great day on the Rock. As always, BUSAR members are welcome to attend any and all sessions. Two day training is generally held the second week-end each June, July, August and September at Backbone Rock in Shady Valley Tennessee. There is a campground at the Rock. I will be your point of contact for any questions.
 
– Doc
GRSM Tech Team Training – Herrington, Miller, Benjamin, and Campbell attended the Smokies Tech Team training day. Great to support and integrate with the guys we will be working with in the field.

20160929_11305520160929_10211720160929_132651unnamed

Responses:

  • Cataloochee Search for family of five – Spieden, Herrington, Miller, Sledge, & Benjamin before being called off

Recruitment:

  • Dusken Sledge – prior military, squad leader, mountain warfare school grad, & hiker

fb7ae39c8c17d1ed32a65b97f5b72d93

July & August BUSAR Update..

cobras-1

Workouts:

 Still going strong. Changed PT time to 1830

Training:

Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training II – July 9-10 AAR by Doc “The Legend” Miller

BUSAR was represented during week two of Black Diamond  Vertical Rescue training by Jenny Jutofsky, Ashley Lewis and Ken Miller.  The same cadre of great instructors and enthusiastic students enjoyed perfect weather after severe storms Friday night. Many basic and advanced skills were checked off including:
  • ascending on frog and rope walker systems
  • rappelling on rescue 8, brake bar rack (J and U) and micro rack
  • rappelling on a weighted line
  • change-overs from ascending to descending and vice versa
  • building anchor systems
  • building and using hauling (2:1, 3:1, 4:1 and 5:1) systems
  • building and using lowering systems
  • changing from haul to to lowering systems and vice versa
  • belaying climbers and those on rappel as well as rescue loads
  • hauling and belaying semi-tech rescue loads (litter patient and bearers)
Day 1 training concluded with a surprise rescue scenario to access, evaluate, package and evacuate (semi-tech) a “victim” who had fallen from the waterfall cliff. That included quickly rigging hauling and lowering systems for a safe carry-out to the road. After de-rigging and re-packing all the gear, supper was followed by knot tying, marshmallow roasting and networking around the campfire.
Day 2 began with re-rigging 4 ropes on the rock for vertical students to practice and have skills evaluated. A horizontal tensioned line was rigged down below so the K9s could get some harness time as well.  Sunday’s weather was beautiful and we completed 16 hours of great instruction and hard work over the week-end.
Weekend 3 Black Diamond Vertical Training will be August 20-21 beginning at 9am.  I have reserved campsite 5. There will be a pot luck dinner provided Saturday night with a gear auction. If you have any old gear you want to get rid of, you may donate it to the auction.  All are welcome!
Swiftwater Rescue Training II – July 29-31 TARS Hiwasee River
Herrington, Morgan, Hesse, Grieco, & Jutkofsky attended. Benjamin instructor – Lots of raft work, tethered swimmer drills, patient packaging, night ops, haul systems, foot entrapment drills, etc. This link has pics and vids:
Swiftwater Rescue Training II – August 19-21 TARS Hiwasee River
Same as training as above. Ransom and Lewis attended. Benjamin instructed.
 14192753_1406318739382295_7847463021146079546_n
Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training III – August 20-21 AAR by Doc “Hunk” Miller
BUSAR was again well represented at Backbone Rock where the hard core were undeterred by the threat of thunderstorms with heavy rain on Saturday. Rather than risk potential exposure to lightning and torrential rain from the coming storm if it proved necessary to urgently de-rig 5 ropes, hauling and lowering systems, the superb Instructor cadre (who have done that more than once before) already had Plans B and C ready. Cobras Hesse , Sharbel, Jutkofsky and Miller would join the rest of the Basic and Advanced students in a pre-planned technical rescue scenario, moving a litter up and over the Rock.
Backbone Rock is a pillar, forming a 100 foot high fin of solid stone, on a ridge of Holston Mountain. It is surrounded by a bend in Beaverdam Creek and penetrated by “the World’s Shortest (10 meters) Tunnel” The task was to move a litter loaded with a simulated patient up and over the Rock to a  Medevac unit on the other side using only the equipment in the supplied Wilderness Technician Pack, what we had on our harnesses and four 150 foot ropes. The north face of the precipice initially slopes gradually from our starting point near the creek, but soon angles upward 30, 45, 60 degrees through a rhodendron hell terminating in a 30 foot high vertical face. The first task was to send out recon parties to scout the best way through the hell to the top of the ridge and down the other side.
Once the route was determined, the litter team clipped in and began their semi-tech ascent into hell with the “patient”. Meanwhile the recon teams began rigging a route through the rhododendron to haul the litter team and patient safely through the increasingly technical terrain.. The rhodo hell was traversed by bushwhacking with the aid of a 3:1 haul system to help us gain the vertical face below the cliff top. Simultaneously, a team was rigging additional  anchors on the ridge top.
When the litter was in a stable location at the bottom of the north face, the haul system was quickly broken down and moved to the the new anchors on top where a belay system was also rigged. The litter and an attached attendant were then protected with a belay line and hauled with a z-rig to the top of the cliff while the rest of the litter team ascended by a separate route to meet them.
Meanwhile the other recon team scouted the safest place to lower the litter and attendant to the Medevac unit on the south side of the sheer vertical cliff. The second haul system was broken down and moved ahead of the litter to the top of the sheer vertical drop above the creek on the other side. Anchors were built, then lowering, belaying and hauling systems were rigged.
Finally the litter and attendant were lowered down the vertical face, tied off mid-face, and then hauled back up for a short distance for gain experience changing from a lowering system to a hauling system, then back again. The litter and attendant were then lowered safely to the ground for transport before the storm arrived. It was a great learning experience for everyone involved and clearly demonstrated why we must learn and practice these technical skills and teamwork and be ready to think “outside the box” to solve problems with limited resources. Our ultimate goal is to become so proficient as a team that the litter never stops moving!
Saturday afternoon was spent rotating through hands-on stations in Land Navigation/Map Reading, Anchor Building and Litter Patient Packaging while the predicted rain approached slowly.  A cookout followed, featuring a bountiful feast and the best pork I have ever tasted, lovingly prepared by Grill Master/Black Diamond Coordinator/Lisa Hannon Award recipient Mike Maggard. The rest of the evening was spent with a fund raising gear auction and socializing in the Pavillion or around campfires before the heavy rain began.
Training Plan C was executed Sunday morning and we gathered beneath the Pavillion. Ropes were fed through pulleys rigged from the rafters and attached to brake bar racks through which rope could be fed for climbers to ascend or descend continuously. Skills practiced included ascending, descending, changeovers, climbing on prusik knots, climbing on a system of parts (someone hands you pieces and you figure out how to climb and descend with them), etc. My parts were an adjustable foot loop on a Petzl handled ascender, a spring loaded Gibbs rope grab, a non-locking carabiner and a prusik which I held in reserve. This was also a great opportunity to practice building anchors and hauling and lowering systems, and running those systems. Instructors were available to sign off on student skill sheets and we were able to accomplish almost as much as we could have on the Rock but for the weather.
It was another week-end of fantastic training and everyone returned home safely. I strongly encourage anyone seeking an opportunity to learn or practice technical rope rescue skills to take advantage of Black Diamond’s warm hospitality. There will be one more session this season on September 10-11 and all are welcome. Next year the same training will occur the second week-ends of June-September.
See you on the Rock!  Doc

Responses:

  • All quiet of the Western front. A couple of us responded to dispatch for the two callouts, but enough resources were on hand

Recruitment: 

  • Jason Benjamin – Oak Ridge Fire Captain, Swiftwater instructor, technicial rescue instructor, rescue swimmer instructor, and stuntman/stunt coordinator

Other:

  • BUSAR is celebrating it’s 1 Year Anniversary!!
  • Finishing up most of the technical classes of the summer and transitioning back into manway trips for the fall

fb7ae39c8c17d1ed32a65b97f5b72d93

Oh Snap!..BUSAR June Update

ankle

Team Workouts

It’s heating up, the sweat is pouring

Ski’s working hard, Doc finds it boring

As tough as  iron, as strong as steel

He shrugs off pain, that others may feel

At seventy four, the Legend rolls on

An inspiration to all, when your motivation is gone

It may be hot, it may be cold

But Doc Miller shows Cobras, that you are never too old!!

 

ce361c17-7601-4c9c-869c-e37bc3ac7d98

Training

June was a busy month. We started out with an in-house technical day at the beginning of the month at Lookrock, focusing on anchor systems, rappelling, and ascending.

 

Mid-June was a training weekend with Black Diamond team out of Virginia. Doc Cobra sent an awesome write up of attending their vertical rescue training with four other team members, so I will just post that in it’s entirety..

AAR Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training Week 1
BUSAR was well represented at Vertical Rescue Training Week 1, the first of four monthly 16 hour sessions based on the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Wilderness Rescue Technician (WRT) Standard. The training site is Backbone Rock in Shady Valley, TN, just south of Damascus, VA. The Lead Instructors were Billy Chrimes (VDEM Training Specialist and Deputy SAR Coordinator), Bryan Saunders(VP Virginia SAR Council and original BD SAR Coordinator) Mike Maggard (Black Diamond SAR Coordinator and past Training Officer), Rob Blevins (BD Training Officer), Bob Barlow (Black Diamond Life Member, Encyclopedia and Guardian of the Culture) and Victoria Airey from the Baltimore area who brings an equal wealth of knowledge and experience in cliff/cave Vertical Rescue Techniques as well as Certification and extensive training in Professional Rope Access (SPRAT, industrial high angle rescue) . They were assisted by a host of other superb Black Diamond veterans. Five Cobras attended: Geist, Sharbel, Jutkofsky, Lewis and Miller. Three worked on Advanced Rope Techniques (ART) skills and two worked on Basic Rope Techniques (BRT) skills.
Subject matter included knots and their proper utilization, tied redundant harness, rope calls, semi-tech rope movement on “scree” slope, ascending, descending, rigging, anchors, hauling and lowering systems. The Instructors are extremely accessible and eager to share (and learn) new information at all times  After hours were spent sport climbing on The Rock and socializing around the campfire where additional learning continued, embellished by tall tales of harrowing true-life (and death) experiences. Black Diamond walks the walk (Rocks the Rock), not just talks the talk!  The weather was great and we completed a full and busy 16 hours of training.
Students climbed and rappelled in a variety of harnesses (tied, climbing, caving, rescue) on a variety of systems (Frog, Knots, free / Munter, Rescue 8, Brake bar rack) from both high rigged points and low ones (sharp edges) over a variety of edges (against the vertical wall [crossing Velcro inline rope guards] and away from the undercut face).
Everyone gained new knowledge, experience and friends, at no cost (other than transportation), from highly professional and competent instructors with years of real-world cliff and cave rescue experience who gave freely, generously and selflessly of their time and talent, “that others (especially rescuers) may live”.  Don’t miss out on this great opportunity if you can help it!  We owe a great debt of gratitude to Black Diamond and VDEM.
I have reserved camping in Site 7, July 8-9 and Site 5, August 19-20. The Black Diamond Annual Cookout will be after training Saturday August 20. Their final formal vertical training of the year will be September 10-11.
Doc
That others may live!
TARS Swifwater I class – Ocoee, TN
Seven of us got to attend Swiftwater I class on the Ocoee this month. It has been almost 20 years since I started guided down there in college and after the class on Sunday, we ran a trip for fun and old times sake. Great class with lots of time in the water and very little down time.
Day 1 was a half day of classroom lecture
Day 2 was self-rescue techniques, eddy swims, rescue wading, and throw bag rescues
Day 3 finished out the course with strainer bar, tension diagonals, rope launching techniques, and foot entrapments
dive
rope
unnamed
Responses – 
            Laurel Falls – Herrington 2:1 low angle haul and carryout for the broken ankle pictured above. Ankle picture courtesy of Tammy “Tough As Nails” Siler. Her sister is tough too!
Recruitment
  • Jake Bezahler – wilderness therapy guide out of Waynesville
Other 
  • Received another donation for gear. Finishing out helmet purchases and some gear for training
fb7ae39c8c17d1ed32a65b97f5b72d93