Tag Archives: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

BUSAR Update – February & March


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.


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


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.


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And the 2014 BigPig Outdoor’s Award goes to…


Johnathan Dobbins, Steven White, and Shawn Hood, of South Carolina for legitimizing my lesson plans. Poor planning, poor gear selection, and poor skills almost bought them a ticket to “Land of Frozen Corpses”.

To summarize, these three hikers started up the steep “Shuckstack” section of the Appalachian Trail in the rain, while a cold front was approaching from the west. Heavy packs, cotton clothing, and the five mile uphill slog took it’s toll, so by the time the snow started falling the men were exhausted and four miles away from the nearest shelter. Planning on staying in the AT shelters, the men had no emergency bivouac gear and had to use their sleeping bags to rig up a shelter and a propane torch to burn anything they could, including their extra clothes for warmth.

Here is their story and a great first person account on video: http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20140104/NEWS01/301040024/Rangers-rescue-stranded-hikers-Smokies

We all learn from mistakes, and I have made my fair share. I started to pick apart their ordeal, piece by piece, but instead have chosen to narrow it down to three simple points to better prepare yourself:

1. Train and prepare for injury. In this case, hypothermia and potential frostbite were the “Main Event”.

2. Train and prepare to be caught out in inclement weather overnight, with minimal gear. Rescue efforts were initiated when they made the call at 1800. The responding Rangers were not able to reach the trio until 0830 the following morning. If they had not been able to use their cell phone, the story would have taken a somber turn.

3. Train for an immersion/saturation scenario. Having your clothing completely soaked in cold weather, whether it is from sweat, rain, or falling in a creek, is a serious threat to your safety.

In hindsight, following the above plan would have taught the trio about proper planning, gear selection, and the skills needed to overcome those challenges.

Ready to learn? January and February Survival 101 classes are filling up. Call or sign up now.