Category Archives: BUSAR

Good Luck Chuck and Mt. LeConte SAR feedback…

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Photo credit: rangerwb

A couple weeks ago, Team BUSAR responded to assist NPS Rescue team in the evacuation of a stroke patient from Mt. LeConte. Fortunately, the rescue went smooth and Chuck is doing great! The life stories that we are intertwined with don’t always end well, so we love to hear happy endings.

We received the following notification from his wife and link to a post written by one of his party. With their permission, I am re-posting it here.

Jeanna,

Hope you are well. My husband, Chuck Cocke, was rescued by NPS and BUSAR on the afternoon and evening of November 9th. Chuck had gone hiking with a group of friends from Christ Church in Charlotte. They hiked to the top of Mount Le Conte on Thursday, November 8th (a strenuous journey for anyone)  and then the group stayed overnight at the lodging on the summit. Friday morning during breakfast people in the group noticed that Chuck didn’t seem like himself. Upon leaving the cabin where they were having breakfast, Chuck stumbled and fell; those around him noticed he seemed incoherent. Luckily,  Stuart Garner was on the trip, he is an excellent pulmonary doctor. He had Chuck lay down on one of the beds and Stuart administered first aid and recognized the signs of a TIA, Transient ischemic attack, or commonly known as a mini-stroke.

Chuck eventually became stabilized but the question then was how to get Chuck down the mountain. That is where NPS and BUSAR came in. The team arrived about 3 p.m. that day and carried Chuck down the mountain on a gurney. That particular day it was foggy and raining and for three of the four hours during the decent, the team was in the pitch dark.

When they finally arrived at the base of the mountain, I was so grateful that I wanted to cry. It was such a heroic act on the part of people who didn’t know my husband. Chuck and I are so thankful for the effort of NPS and BUSAR. I am sending you the E devotion written by Matt Holcombe, our priest who was on the trip and also played a key role in the rescue. I’ve also cc:ed Matt in case you want to reach out to him. Matt’s words are very moving; many people have responded with love and gratitude for the work of your first responders.

Thank them for me for saving my husband’s life. We are both very grateful.

Best,

Nanelle Napp, Chuck Cocke’s wife  

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” – John 1:5

The answer caught me off-guard: “We can fly him off the mountain in a helicopter, take him down on horseback, or carry him down on a stretcher.” This is when I knew we were in trouble.

Last week a group of men from Christ Church and friends hiked to the top of Mount LeConte. After a grueling eight-mile hike we all finally reached the summit at 6,593 feet. Welcoming us, and hikers from across the world, was Mount LeConte Lodge, the highest guest lodge in the eastern United States. With no electricity or running water and the closest road six miles away, the hand-hewn log cabins are an appropriate escape from the high-tech world a mile below. After a hearty dinner, evening prayers, and a time of reflection on our hike’s theme — ‘Whose life are you living?’ — we retired to our cabins for a well-earned night of sleep.

The next morning we prepared for the six-mile hike down the other side of the mountain. We packed up our backpacks and shared a quick breakfast. This being our 11th annual hike, most of the 23 men knew what to expect. But everything was about to change. After breakfast I noticed someone helping Chuck Cocke walk to his cabin. I offered to help and immediately noticed the left side of Chuck’s body wasn’t moving. He wasn’t speaking clearly. His eyes were glazed over. He couldn’t hold his head up. We rushed him to a nearby cabin and laid him on one of the beds. Stuart Garner, the hike organizer and a gifted pulmonologist, appeared out of nowhere. Stuart checked for a wrist pulse and couldn’t find one. Stuart found a carotid artery pulse and the lodge staff was summoned for help. It appeared Chuck was having a stroke and we knew every minute was vital.

The next hour was a blur. After conferring with the National Park Service (NPS) the lodge staff gave us the options: “We can fly him off the mountain in a helicopter, take him down on horseback, or carry him down on a stretcher.” Unfortunately, due to weather conditions (50-foot visibility, rain and winds gusting to 20 knots), the helicopter option was eliminated. Due to Chuck’s condition, horseback was also not possible. He needed to be carried down the mountain. We felt defeated and I felt hopeless. I got in touch with Chuck’s wife and assured her we were doing everything we could. However, at that moment I wasn’t sure if Chuck was going to make it off the mountain alive.

As we waited for members of the NPS search and rescue team to arrive, every minute seemed like an hour. The first two members of the rescue team (a paramedic and EMT) arrived around noon. They assessed Chuck’s condition and ensured he was stable. Several more hours passed before 13 additional members of the NPS Rescue team and BUSAR (www.teambusar.org) arrived to carry Chuck off the mountain.
Nearly seven hours after the ordeal started, Chuck was strapped into the one-wheeled rescue stretcher (a “litter”) and we started down the mountain. The litter needed six people at all times to ensure Chuck’s safety. The six-mile journey down the mountain took five hours, three of which were in darkness of night, all in the rain. We descended nearly 4,000 feet across rivers, boulders, and trails that at times were no wider than a foot.
Early in the journey I offered a prayer for Chuck and the entire rescue team. And then it happened: I saw God. I saw God in the face of the rescuers. I saw God in Stuart’s face. I saw God in Chuck’s face. I saw God in the charred forest. I saw God in the headlamps that lit our path. I saw God in the stories that were shared coming down the mountain. I saw God in a group of people putting their life at risk for someone they had never met.

When I imagined a mountain-top experience with God, this isn’t what I had in mind. Yet, it is precisely the way of love that Jesus speaks about in the gospels. As it says in this Thanksgiving Blessing, “Count your blessings instead of your crosses; count your gains instead of your losses. Count your smiles instead of your tears; count your courage instead of your fears. Count your health instead of your wealth; and count on God instead of yourself.”

Shortly after 8:00 PM we reached the bottom of the trail, where Chuck’s wife and an ambulance were waiting. They rushed Chuck to the hospital for a myriad of tests. All the tests came back negative and he was released the following day. The doctors don’t know what happened or how or why. Some may say it is a mystery, but I’d prefer to call it a blessing. A blessing that Chuck’s health was restored, a blessing for the strangers who helped Chuck, or perhaps the biggest blessing of the whole experience … Chuck doesn’t remember anything from the entire day.

This Thanksgiving I pray that you will give thanks to God for all the blessings in your life, especially the ones you can’t explain.

Please join us tonight for Thanksgiving Eve Holy Eucharist at 7:30 PM in the Church.

  The Reverend Matt Holcombe
Associate Rector
704-714-6964 
   holcombem@christchurchcharlotte.org
Click here to learn more about Team BUSAR
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Team BUSAR at Tupelo Honey Cafe..

tupelo

Starting today, for the next month (6/19-7/10), our friends and supporters at Tupelo Honey Cafe at Market Square in Knoxville will be doing a fundraiser to help purchase emergency medical gear for our team. After a great meal, there will be additional line on your receipt where you can add a donation to help us fund these items. By supporting the team, you become part of the rescue! 

Team BUSAR at Three Rivers Market…

Kato

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote a this post about a great place called Three Rivers Market. Before we moved deeper into the mountains of North Carolina, we were members there and enjoyed their locally farmed produce and bulk foods. Every couple months, I still buy my 50 pound bag of organic rolled oats there.

For the month of June, our team is honored to be the recipient of the Nourishing Change Grant. Basically, anytime you or another customer makes a purchase, you can round up your change and/or donate extra to the team. This money has already been earmarked to buy our team swiftwater rescue gear for operations in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

On Saturday, June 9th at 1:30 pm, our team will also be on site doing Preventative – Search & Rescue demos targeting kids, but there will be good stuff for adults too.

So come visit us, meet some team members, and pet Kato the Magnificent..

By rounding up your change, or donating, you are become part of the rescue!

3rivers

Vote for our Search & Rescue team and save lives…

superstory

Update: I was told by WBIR you can vote once per day now. Please follow the link to vote for our team’s story to be aired during Superbowl Sunday. The exposure will hep our team secure funding for gear and training. Your vote will help save lives.
 
On Sunday night, we got a callout for a 67 y.o. male missing in Maddron area. It was during the shutdown and the park had limited personnel, but Team BUSAR was ready to hit the woods wit the Rangers the next morning. Thankfully the man made it out and back to his worried wife around midnight.

You can now vote once per day for BUSAR and save lives…

superstory

The story of BUSAR is in the top five finalists for WBIR Superstories. Follow this link to see our story and vote. BUSAR Superstory

Our story will be aired on Superbowl Sunday if we win, so head on over and cast your vote. More exposure for the team will hep us secure more funding, allowing us to purchase lifesaving gear and training.

While my name is in the spotlight, this team wouldn’t have formed without my dedicated and hard working team members, both past and present, the support from our families, and the opportunity from the park. From carryouts, to recoveries, to plane crashes, to missing hikers, BUSAR has been behind the scenes of search and rescue in the Smokies for the last two and half years.

To learn more about the team, go here: teambusar.org

And to read more about it’s formation, go here: Team BUSAR

Big, Big BUSAR Update – May thru October…

 

 

The above are my two reasons why this update has been a long time coming.

Without further ado…

Training – 

  • Returned to crash site of N1839X and recovered two cellphones of victims
  • Doc Miller and Borkowski knocked out the Rescue Swimmer class
  • Doc Miller and Borkowski knocked out Swiftwater I & II
  • NPS Tech Team training – Swiftwater on Pigeon River – Benjamin and Johnston
  • NPS Tech Team training at Chimney Tops – Benjamin, Ransom, Sharbel, Herrington
  • Benjamin taught 16 hours of medical, 32 hours of swiftwater rescue, 55 of rope rescue, and 132 hours of rescue swimmer training to various agencies
  • Ritter completed his litter team training and first aid/CPR class
  • Herrington taught four survival and P-SAR (Preventative-Search & Rescue) classes at REI stores in Knoxville, Brentwood, and Asheville
  • Geist taught two Wilderness First Responder classes for SOLO-SE
  • Land navigation training and course setup – Harrell, Johnston, Miller, and Herrington
  • Borkowski taught multiple LZ classes to fire departments and rescue squads in VA
  • Borkowski developed draft of SRT2 Aviation training module
  • Harrel completed his SAR-duous duty pack test
  • Lewis  taught multiple tracking and SAR skills classes for VDEM to volunteers, first responders, and VA Department of Corrections.

 

Responses – 

  • Recovery at Ramsey Cascades
  • Recovery on Abrams Falls trail
  • Recovery on Alum Cave trail
  • Bohanon SAR – BUSAR logged over 630 hours during the 8 day search and had 100% response rate
  • Abrams Creek stranded hikers – Borkowski
  • Abrams Falls search – Johnston
  • Sharbel hired on as a seasonal SAR ranger out of Gatlinburg. He has more responses than I can list here, but has been averaging 3 – 4 incidents per week
  • Doc Miller responded to Hurricane Harvey and then Irma with his USAR team. what a stud!

Team Workouts – Going strong every week. Sharbs forgot his kettlebell one night, which inspired the painful,  “Follow-the-leader” interval . Yep, that is a dog at our workout too!

 

BUSAR is a 501(c)3 non-profit. To help us help others, go here… teambusar.org