Tag 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 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!

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BUSAR Fundraiser – Saturday 3/10…

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Last August, Team BUSAR spent over 632 hours while searching for missing teen, Austin Bohanan. Austin walked out under his own power, but his family graciously wants to recognize our efforts for our hard work in some the toughest terrain in the park.

This Saturday, the Bohanon’s will be hosting a fundraiser at Maple Grove Missionary Church in Maryville, between 3 and 7 pm. There will be a chili to eat ($5) and a silent auction. The Team will also be doing demos to help increase backcountry safety and educate your kids before your summer adventures. We will teach your kids what to do when lost, first aid demos, drone demo, ropework, and Kato the search dog is going to show up.

The event is open to everyone, so swing on by, meet some of the team members, bid on some items, and let your kids have some fun while learning lifesaving skills. Donations go directly to the team to help fund training and gear purchases.

Thanks for your support and we will see you there

Location: Maple Grove Missionary Church 3201 Carpenter’s Grade Rd. Maryville, TN 37803
Date: Saturday, March 10
Time: 3pm – 7pm
Demo times: 4-5pm & 6-7pm

Search info:
http://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/teen-missing-more-than-a-week-in-the-smokies-walks-out-of-backcountry/51-464339030

Event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/199089874003269/

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

TeamBUSAR.org…

SHIRT

Three years ago I was at a crux. I had resigned from my backcountry law enforcement ranger position, found out we were having a baby, and started planning our move to North Carolina. I remember reading a text from my MMA coach that he sent out to the team about training and priorities. I was in Florida on vacation, and he was right. I realized that I could no longer dedicate the time and energy to that sport, with new priorities entering my life. I left the gym, leaving part of me behind.

The same was true of my LE Ranger position. While I will never regret my decision to leave, there was a part of my soul that missed the most rewarding facet of that job…

Search and rescue.

I have been extremely fortunate to have a career filled with adventure, but there has only been one time in all those years that emotion has swept over me so strongly, I had to walk away.

Ten years ago, I was on a search for two off-trail hikers on the Spruce Flats Falls manway. I was just getting into the law enforcement division, but got teamed up with “Rambo” Ricky Varner who knew the area like the back of his hand. We located the couple, who were forced to spend the night out, and walked them out to Tremont.

There, patiently waiting, was their family, and what ensued was one of the most tender reunions I have witnessed. They don’t always end that way, but reuniting a family with their missing loved one will move the most calloused soul.

spruce-flats-falls

Photo credit: http://www.thegreatsmokies.net/spruce-flats-falls/

And so two years ago, fueled by a desire to be pushed by a group of hard-core guys, a penchant for the misery of off-trail rescues, and the aspiration to help others, I started recruiting a band of outdoor misfits to form an elite search and rescue team. Our mission would be simple. Prepare for the toughest missions the Smokies can offer..

  • Off-trail rescues
  • Extended carryouts
  • Winter rescues
  • Missing aircraft
  • Technical and swiftwater rescue

With the promise of bad weather, long hours, no pay, and dangerous work, they started to trickle in one by one. First an adventurer racer, then a paddler and climber, then a helicopter pilot, a doctor, a flight medic, a Special Forces veteran, a neuroscientist, another wildlife ranger, and the list went on.

Original flyer:

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As diverse as the crew was, they all had in common the desire to help others in need and the ability to push themselves physically and mentally to build a professional team.

Every week for two years, in every weather condition, we have met at a local park to workout together, carrying our SAR packs and kettlebells, pushing the levels of fitness higher and suffering through grueling fitness standards. Every month, the team has assembled for some form of training, be it technical, swiftwater, tracking, land navigation, wilderness medical, rescue swimming, working with K-9 teams, or just a tough off-trail scramble.

Leaving the comfort of our homes and families to respond to missions, we have carried out patients on the icy Appalachian trail. Rigged up ropes to haul the injured hikers up to safety. Searched for a downed plane during hypothermia inducing weather. Assisted with joint technical rescue training. Responded to many calls only to get cancelled en route when the victim walked out. Searched the dark trails for a missing hikers. Assisted in the body recoveries of recent fatalities. And taken vacation days and cancelled personal plans to respond when called.

The team did all this, and more, to be an asset to the Search and Rescue operations of Great Smoky Mountain National Park and help those in need. The park is working constantly to overcome staffing and budget challenges. We hope to help them by pre-deploying on high volume weekends and holidays, which will reduce our response time and allow us to assist with the P-SAR (Preventative Search & Rescue) program.

The BUSAR Team is the finest group of professionals I have ever worked with. They are my friends, my mentors, my teammates, and they have helped fill that tribal void in my life. I am proud of all they have accomplished and all that they will going forward.

So today I am announcing our team website, Team BUSAR, and the exciting news that we got our non-profit status. For the last two years, except for three donors, we have paid for everything out of our own pocket. Our gear, our training, gas, meals, etc. We have done all that because we desire to help.

Now we are asking for your help.

With over 11 million visitors to the Smokies, there is a good chance that you or someone you care about may need help out there at sometime, so please consider helping us by the following:

  1.  Jump onto our site and read the bios of this dedicated group of professionals
  2. Push this message, and our website, teambusar.org out on social media, hiking forums, email groups, and word of mouth. The more the better, as just that action may find us the help we need.
  3. Like us on Facebook, TeamBUSAR Facebook, and invite all your friends to do the same
  4. BUSAR is a 501(c)3 non-profit, so please consider donating if you are able –  Donate to BUSAR
  5. If you know someone who is looking for a charitable tax deduction, please send them our way.  I am more than happy to chat by phone or meet up to explain our vision. Our team not only has a worthwhile mission, but with half of the team being veterans, it makes a difference in their lives as well.
  6. If you are aware of any grants or foundations that are inline with our mission, please email us at  – busarfoundation@gmail.com

 

To date, the BUSAR project has been one of the most fulfilling chapters in my life. This team would have never started without the hard work and dedication of those on the team and their support of their families. To all those involved, current and former, I give thanks.

Thanks to Chief Ranger Steve Kloster, who has been advising me since it’s formation, along with Jared St. Clair, TN District Ranger, who took over the SAR Coordinator role. Thanks also goes out to all the members of the Smokies Tech Rescue team, Kevin Moses and the cadre of B-TRTE for tech training, Chuck Hester of BLRI, and Brian Osgood and the BCRS crew for loaning us equipment for swiftwater training.

What was birthed two years ago, is now starting to stand on its own two feet. The feet wear muddy boots, the bodies are now hardened by countless workouts and training missions, and the spirit stands by waiting for the call and ready to help. The path ahead of us is clear, we are prepared, and ready for the journey. We invite all of you to join us in this mission to help others, by helping us…

BUSAR!!

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