Tag Archives: SAR

BUSAR April Trainathon..

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The only thing better than getting the greatest picture of Ski being rescued by the Jernigator is looking back at April’s training and realizing that the BUSAR beast is unstoppable. With over 440 hours of training logged by the team, and without a budget, I am both amazed and humbled to be surrounded by such talent and dedication.

K9 SRT Day: The month started off by working with the canines of the Tennessee Special Response Team led by Art Wolf. This group of highly skilled and dedicated canine handlers train every week. http://www.tnsrta.org/ We worked an 18 hour old track and trail, a couple live find area searches, and some human remains searches. I have seen some janky dog teams on real world searches in the past, but all the TN SRT dogs are certified through NASAR in multiple discipline and then get put through the ringer by Art. Hats off to a great team and many thanks for allowing us to tag along. We look forward to working with them in the future.

BTRT-E: In mid-April, five of us rolled up to New River Gorge and were students (and one instructor) in the five day NPS Basic High Angle Rescue Training – East. It was the best in-house training I have experienced during my 16 years in the park service and the credit goes to Kevin Moses and his fine cadre. Lots of great material, scenarios, and great cliffs.

Virginia SAR Conference – Later in April, five of us headed to the mecca of SAR, also called the Virginia SAR Conference. I was scheduled to teach a 2 day Wilderness Survival for Search & Rescue Personnel class and my class was blessed with a decent night time temp of 29 degrees. This four day event allows two days of intensive pre-classes, followed by two days of mini-classes. This was part of the offering for Saturday. The 0600 and 1700 PT sessions were lead by the BUSAR boys.. IMG_1460

Lots of good classes, new friends, learning opportunities, and networking. We are all looking forward to next year.

With two PT sessions a day and classes in between, even the Green Ninja got tuckered out!!

Smokies Tech Team day – Fresh off BTRT-E, we got the invite to train with the Smokies Technical Rescue Team. Halfway through, we got a call for a semi-technical rescue and got to put some rope action into play. Training, real rescue, and then then weekly workout..BUSAR Trifecta complete!

 

Smokies Litter Team day – April finished off with five cobras rolling up to spend half a day on litter team training. No pics from that, but here are a couple from a Rainbow Falls rescue where one of our members was on the ground team when another dropped through the canopy to hoist the patient out. Good work Greg and John!! Video link to hoist: https://www.facebook.com/john.hicks.1420/videos/1180982995245133/

 

 

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Rescuing Naked Foragers…

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Three worlds collide in a BigPig news update..

Due to technical difficulties, a.k.a. moving further into the mountains, I have had limited computer access of late, but stuff has been brewing in the land of many pigs..

Two foraging events:

Spring Poisonous, Edible, Medicinal & Useful workshop is scheduled for Sunday, April 10. You can find out more here: http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/poisonous–edible–medicinal—-useful-plants.html

I will be the keynote speaker at the awesome North Carolina Wild Foods Weekend. I wrote about this event a couple years ago, and I am honored to be speaking about foraging and survival. There are a ton of great instructors at this family event.To learn more about this event, click here:  http://wildfoodadventures.com/workshops/category/north-carolina-wild-food-weekend-association/

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Search & Rescue:

Lot’s of good stuff brewing with the BUSAR team, including attending the Virginia SAR conference. I will be teaching a 2 day “Wilderness Survival for SAR Personnel” class and the BUSAR boys will be leading daily PT sessions. Click here to learn more:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/?ui=2&ik=26b9e98f08&view=att&th=152612ba84283c9b&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=f_ijnengnd0&safe=1&zw

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/2016-virginia-sar-council-sar-conference-tickets-20784514041

Also lined up is the Virginia SAREX in May. Click here to read more about this full scale SAR exercise. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1_MEYv9Akm8ZHpaX3BVMlFEVWc/view

Naked, but not Afraid!! 

Last year, I had the pleasure of training Melissa LeEllen for her episode of Naked & Afraid. Her episode will be aired this season, possibly in July. I will make another post as we get closer, but you can read more here: http://www.melissaleellen.com/ Go Melissa!!

Survival Weekly – 10/21/15…

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Welcome to another edition of Survival Weekly, where the real wilderness survival “reality show” plays out everyday, in the wild places around our world. These unscripted stories will give you insight to the true threats and challenges you may face i+n your outdoor pursuits. So sit back, relax, and read on to get a dose of reality to sharpen your most valuable survival tool. – BPO

Featured – 

Hikers fall when suspension bridge cable breaks –  http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/09/travel/bridge-collapse-in-new-zealand/

Survival 101 grad finds missing boy. Way to go Sean!! –  http://www.wbir.com/story/news/local/2015/10/20/knoxville-police-searching-missing-child-who-has-autism/74289558/

News – 

China charges rescued hikers – http://english.cri.cn/12394/2015/10/16/4021s899826.htm

Cell phones and Blackhawks – http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/environment/3603321-151/cell-service-black-hawk-key-to-mountain-rescues#

Water Safety –

SAR for missing sailors – http://citizen.co.za/824010/two-sailors-missing-off-eastern-cape-coast/

Search continues for missing boater – http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/5971958-week-long-search-for-missing-newmarket-boater-continues-on-lake-simcoe/

Hiking – 

Lost & Injured hikers rescued –

Hunter-gatherer – 

Prospector rescued – http://www.mymotherlode.com/news/local/251335/search-and-rescue-recovers-injured-prospector.html

Missing fishermen – https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/major-search-and-rescue-operation-continues-for-missing-fishermen-avid-060a2b340101010501010f1013-000000-cda0f8f4e1df0094-ccb90060dd44-a8b1.html

Duck hunter rescued – http://www.wnem.com/story/30290704/duck-hunter-teenage-son-rescued

Injured hunter rescued – http://www.pagosasun.com/hunter-rescued-in-piedra-area/

Injured hunter rescued after fall – http://www.taosnews.com/news/article_5598a1a8-7778-11e5-a156-6fcd35b1279d.html

Climbing – 

Vehicles – 

 Horse rider rescued –   http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20151018/NEWS01/151019644/-1/news01&source=RSS

Interested in learning skills to handle emergencies like the ones you read in Survival Weekly?  Check out BigPig Outdoors Survival  classes  – http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/survival-101-1.htm

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image: http://english.cri.cn/12394/2015/10/16/4021s899826.htm
First image: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Derbyshire-heart-attack-sufferer-completes/story-28007769-detail/story.html

Survival Weekly – 9/8/14…

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Featured –

Because deer season is right around the corner – http://wthitv.com/2014/08/28/conservation-officers-find-man-almost-24-hours-after-tree-stand-accident/

Hunter/Gatherer – 

Bear chases bow hunter up tree and bites his leg – http://www.wsoctv.com/ap/ap/strange/bear-chases-bow-hunter-up-tree-bites-his-leg/nhGzp/?ecmp=wsoctv_social_facebook_2014_sfp

Body of boy recovered from fishing accident –  http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2014/09/01/reports-crews-searching-great-miami-for-boy/14935449/

Father drowns on fishing trip – http://www.toledoblade.com/Police-Fire/2014/09/07/Man-attempting-rescue-missing.html

Hiking – 

Yosemite National Park (CA)
Visitors Evacuated By Helicopter Due To Fire

A wildfire that started early yesterday afternoon east of Half Dome quickly grew to 700 acres and forced the helicopter evacuation of about 100 hikers from the top of Half Dome, Little Yosemite Valley and surrounding trails.  

There were no reported injuries or structures affected by the wildfire.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Throughout the afternoon, seven helicopters, an airplane, and ground crews worked to extinguish the fire. The area, which is at an elevation of about 7,000 feet, features rugged terrain.  Ground access requires a several mile hike to the area affected by the fire. 

Yosemite National Park firefighters are working with fire crews from Cal Fire, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, Mariposa County Fire, California Highway Patrol, and U.S. Forest Service.  There are over 100 firefighters dedicated to the fire, with more resources en route. 

Yosemite National Park remains open and all facilities within Yosemite Valley.  Trails near the Half Dome area, the Little Yosemite Valley area (a backcountry camping area near Half Dome), Merced Lake and Sunrise High Sierra Camps, Clouds Rest, and Echo Valley remain closed due to fire activity.  All roads leading into Yosemite remain open as well. 

Visitors are urged to check the park’s website to get updated information in the smoke impacts to Yosemite National Park.  Updated information can be found at www.nps.gov/yose

Olympic National Park (WA)
Search Underway For Missing Backpacker

A search was begun late Saturday for Kelly Hall, a 64-year old Bainbridge Island man who was two days overdue from an intended six-day, 39-mile hike in the northeast corner of of the park. 

Hall began his hike on Saturday, August 30th, setting out from the Obstruction Point Trailhead near Hurricane Ridge.  Family members expected to meet him at the USFS Slab Camp Trailhead last Thursday afternoon.  He was reported overdue on Thursday evening.

Hall’s planned itinerary was to hike through Grand Valley to Grand Pass, then continue over Cameron Pass, pass through Dose Meadows to Gray Wolf Pass, and follow the Gray Wolf Trail into the Buckhorn Wilderness in Olympic National Forest. 

Hall is described as being 6’5” tall and weighing 220 pounds. He’s carrying a blue backpack and wearing a blue Mountain Hardware stocking cap. He’s believed to be carrying a blue-gray tent and to have orange flip flops and a fishing pole tied to his pack. Anyone who’s seen him or knows something about his possible whereabouts is asked to call the park at at 360-565-3120.

As of late yesterday, there were 16 searchers in the field, including National Park Service employees and volunteers, plus volunteers from Olympic Mountain Rescue, Clallam County Search and Rescue, and German Shepherd Search Dogs. 

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve (AK)
Four Hikers Rescued From Copper Mountain

On the evening of Sunday, August 31st, four hikers were rescued from Copper Mountain in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.  Three of the hikers were off-duty Lake Clark employees.

The National Park Service’s Alaska Region Communication Center received a distress call from a park radio around 7:30 p.m., reporting that a seasonal maintenance employee in the group had sustained a life-threatening injury in a fall.  Members of the party provided first aid, but they were unable to move him due to  unstable terrain.

National Park Service personnel and Alaska state troopers in Port Alsworth worked with the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center to rescue the hikers. The Air National Guard responded with an HC-130 aircraft and an HH-60 helicopter with pararescue jumpers. 

During the hoisting operation, another seasonal maintenance employee for Lake Clark, who was on furlough from the Grand Canyon, sustained a significant head injury as a result of falling rock debris.  

All four hikers were brought aboard the helicopter and flown to Anchorage.  The two injured men are currently receiving treatment at Providence Alaska Medical Center.  

 

Injured hiker rescued – http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2014/09/rescue-underway-for-injured-hiker-near-mount-pugh/

Missing couple rescued – http://www.kpax.com/news/missing-couple-in-bighorn-national-forest-found-alive/

 

Climbing – 

Body of climber missing for weeks – http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/body-of-missing-blodgett-canyon-hiker-located/27927548

Climbers rescued – http://www.cfjctv.com/story.php?id=21045

More climbers rescued – http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/Rock-climbers-rescued-in-Wolfe-County-after-rain-floods-creek-274275681.html

Watersports – 

Search for missing swimmer – http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/rescue-crews-continue-search-for-missing-msu-student/27830804

Another search for a missing swimmer – http://www.havasunews.com/news/search-operation-on-lake-havasu-lasts-much-of-labor-day/article_c6939a0a-3257-11e4-acda-0019bb2963f4.html

Kayaker rescued from Lake Michigan –  http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2014/09/kayak_trip_across_lake_michiga_2.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+michigan-news+(Michigan+News%2C+Updates%2C+Photos%2C+Videos+and+Opinions+-+MLive.com)

Missing boater found – http://abc7chicago.com/news/man-missing-for-20-hours-on-lake-michigan-rescued/297441/

Alcohol and boating lead to body recovery – http://www.thewesternnews.com/news/man-s-body-recovered-from-middle-thompson-lake/article_b57f7eec-354e-11e4-b015-0019bb2963f4.html

Foot entrapmment of 9 year old boy – http://magicvalley.com/news/local/breaking-news-update-boy-rescued-from-pillar-falls-after-accident/article_2de6604e-361c-11e4-a359-001a4bcf887a.html

Vehicles – 

Stranded dirt biker rescued – http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/search-and-rescue-crews-looking-for-missing-dirt-b/25290/Yrnj2l3xrEKDKL3EZC3gwA

Horseback rider rescued – http://www.svherald.com/content/derek-jordan/2014/09/02/388731

Injured mountain biker rescued – http://www.kbzk.com/news/mountain-biker-rescued-near-triple-tree/

Small plane crash due to loss of cabin pressure –  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/unresponsive-u-s-plane-crashes-off-jamaica-official-says/

Survival Weekly – 8/25/14…

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Featured – 

I highlighted key factors in this story. Day hikers would suggest they had minimal gear, but experienced would imply skills. Weather can initiate a survival situation, especially in the mountains where it can change suddenly. The SAR was initiated by a family member’s report, so their trip plan worked when they did not report in. I would be curious to know why they chose to leave their location after contacting family by phone. It seems that it must have been a calculated decision. Maybe to get better reception? Better shelter?

Mount Rainier National Park (WA)
Panhandle Gap Search Comes To Successful Conclusion

Search teams successfully located two missing day hikers in the Summerland area of the park on August 14th.

On Tuesday, August 12th, the two experienced hikers left the Summerland trailhead on the park’s east side with the intention of hiking through Summerland and Panhandle Gap, where they planned to traverse through Cowlitz Chimneys to Owyhigh. A severe storm caught them in the Chimneys, where they sheltered in place.

The next morning, following an overdue party report, a hasty search was conducted by park staff pulled from the Shadow Lake Fire. The hikers made contact with the park midday by cell phone through a family member, providing brief information before the call was lost. They moved on after reporting their location, missing park crews by four hours.

The pair backtracked to Panhandle Gap the next morning. Mountain rescue crews located them below the Gap. They were uninjured and completed the hike out to the trailhead.

Thirty people were assigned to the incident from Seattle, Tacoma, Olympic, and Everett mountain rescue teams, Central Pierce County, and park staff. Quincy Maret was incident commander.

News – 

Cyborg moth SAR drones –  http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/16724/20140820/cyborg-moth-biobots-fly-future-search-rescue-missions-video.htm

Hiking – 

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Young Girl Dies In Fall Into Canyon

An eight-year-old California girl was killed in a fall into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on the morning of Sunday, August 17th.

The young girl was hiking with family members along the trail to the brink of the Lower Falls when the accident occurred. About two thirds of the way down the trail toward the observation platform, she reportedly stepped off the trail, lost her footing, and fell approximately 550 feet into the canyon.

Park personnel retrieved her body around noon on Sunday.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
Body Of Missing Hiker Found By Searchers

On the afternoon of Wednesday, August 20th, the body of missing hiker Gregory Muck was recovered in the area northwest of Mount Gardiner in Kings Canyon National Park. He is presumed to have fallen in a steep and rocky area at approximately 12,000 feet in elevation.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.

On August 10th, Muck departed on a solo hike from the Roads End area of Kings Canyon National Park. He planned to hike to Gardiner Basin via Gardiner Pass. After several days in the basin, he planned to hike out Gardiner Creek to Woods Creek Trail and return to Roads End in Cedar Grove by August 17th.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ SAR staff, supported by searchers from Yosemite SAR, Yosemite’s search dog team (YODOGs), and a helicopter from the California Highway Patrol, began a search for this 46-year-old Santa Cruz, California, man on August 18th after he was reported overdue from a backpacking trip in Kings Canyon. A total of 71 NPS staff and park partners worked on the three-day-long search.

Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Body Of Missing Concession Employee Found

Search teams from the park and Teton County Search and Rescue found the body of Aleksandr “Sasha” Sagiev, 20, of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, below Cache Couloir in Cache Gulch on Friday, August 22nd. He’d been the subject of a three-day-long search.

Sagiev, a seasonal employee of Dornan’s in Moose, Wyoming, was reported missing on the morning of Monday, August 18th. He had not been seen by coworkers since the previous afternoon.

The preliminary investigation and search focused on areas in and around Moose. New information received on Thursday afternoon indicated that Sagiev may have started a hike from Taggart Lake Trailhead around 9 a.m. on Monday. With a break in the inclement weather, an aerial search was conducted Thursday afternoon over Taggart and Delta lakes, but no sign of Sagiev was found.

Approximately 60 searchers gathered on Friday morning to explore areas where Sagiev may have hiked in the Tetons. For a second day, the weather was extremely rainy with dense clouds covering the Teton peaks.

Search teams found Sagiev’s body that afternoon in Glacier Gulch about a third of a mile west of Delta Lake.  He was declared dead at the scene by the searchers in consultation with the park’s medical director. The circumstances of Sagiev’s death are still under investigation. 

Sagiev was wearing the metallic blue “Sochi” jacket described in missing person flyers distributed to the public, which helped in locating his body in the rocky terrain.

Search for missing hiker – http://www.montereyherald.com/news/ci_26360398/dozen-search-and-rescue-teams-look-missing-hiker

Stranded couple rescued – http://fox13now.com/2014/08/17/search-and-rescue-crews-respond-to-couple-in-little-cottonwood-canyon/

Injured hiker rescued – http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/local/2014/08/18/crews-rescuing-hiker-horsetooth-rock/14233905/

Scout leader rescued – http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/search-and-rescue-crews-called-out-to-rescue-boy-s/38803/3WcJVEN5okqZLMoiJDVzIw

Dehydrated hikers rescued – http://www.willcoxrangenews.com/news/article_12199054-27f1-11e4-b72e-001a4bcf887a.html

Injured hiker rescued – http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/442-transport-and-rescue-squadron-crew-come-to-the-aid-of-an-injured-hiker

SAR underway for missing camper –http://denver.cbslocal.com/2014/08/22/search-continues-for-aspen-woman-missing-since-sunday/

Climbing –

Stranded climbers rescued – http://www.castanet.net/news/Kamloops/121261/Busy-day-for-search-and-rescue

Stranded hiker rescued off cliff – http://www.dailybreeze.com/general-news/20140822/man-rescued-from-san-pedro-cliff-after-slipping-near-point-fermin-park

Injured climber rescued – http://globalnews.ca/news/1523812/busy-day-for-search-and-rescue-crews-at-local-hot-spots/

Hunter/Gatherer – 

Missing hunter found – http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/search-and-rescue-crews-looking-for-a-missing-hunt/22456/lIisYXVCdkq-GabpWXlI0g

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve (AK)
Rangers Assist In Treatment Of Poisoning Victim

On the night of Tuesday, August 12th, rangers responded to a mutual aid request made by the Alaska State Troopers. 

Gustavus Volunteer Fire Department’s EMS squad had responded to a 911 call regarding a 57-year-old emotionally disturbed woman who had ingested poisonous mushrooms and was refusing medical attention.  The Gustavus volunteers contacted the Alaska State Troopers office to request law enforcement assistance in order to place the patient under protective custody. 

Rangers responded and waited until the air ambulance flight crew arrived. They then conducted an Operational Leadership GAR assessment and executed a plan led by the flight nurse to restrain and sedate the woman in order to transport her to Juneau for further evaluation. The woman was flown to Juneau without further incident. 

The park had received a ‘be on the lookout’ call from the Alaska Regional Communication Center, advising that a welfare check on her was needed. According to the center, she’d arrived in Gustavus on the Alaska state ferry.

The woman’s lifelong partner said that she did this about once a year, and had once ended up under protective custody in Madagascar. Rangers were unaware that she had been staying at a private residence.

Watersports – 

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)
Body Of Missing Concession Employee Found

The body of a young man missing in since the evening of Monday, August 11th, has been recovered.

Twenty-two year old Darien Latty had gone tubing Monday with friends on the Lamar River near Tower Junction. Shortly after reaching the point where the Lamar River flows into the Yellowstone River, his two companions managed to get to the river’s edge and get out of the much faster moving water.  Latty was last seen being swept downstream, separated from his inner tube and without a life jacket.

Search efforts began Monday evening.   At its peak, over 50 people were involved in the search, which included a helicopter, three dog teams, and several groups of searchers on foot.

Late last Friday, searchers spotted what they thought was a submerged body pinned to a large rock in a very steep and dangerous section of the Yellowstone River, about a quarter mile downstream from where Latty was last seen.

A swiftwater rescue team from Gallatin County, Montana, was called in on Saturday to navigate the river.  Using kayaks and a raft anchored to both banks of the river, they were able to dislodge and recover Latty’s body on Saturday afternoon.  A helicopter was utilized to remove his body from the remote area. 

The corner made a positive identification Saturday evening.

Latty, who was from northeastern Georgia community of Demorest, was in Yellowstone working as a summer seasonal employee at Roosevelt Lodge. An autopsy will be conducted to confirm the cause of death.

Floating the river is prohibited by park regulations.

Lake Mead NRA – NV, AZ
Search In Progress For Missing Swimmer

Rangers are searching for a missing 31-year-old Southern California man who was last seen in the water near Cottonwood Cove on Lake Mohave.

Just after noon on Saturday, August 16th, the park received a report that the man had jumped off a boat into the water, had begun struggling, and soon disappeared underwater. Witnesses said the victim was not wearing a life jacket.

Rangers, Nevada Department of Wildlife game wardens and employees from the nearby marina immediately began searching for the missing man, who is believed to be around 100 yards from the shoreline in an area that is 80 to 100 feet deep. The water in the area is usually clear, but visibility is currently very limited due to recent storms, making the search more challenging.

Crews are continuing to search the area. The incident is under investigation.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (AZ,UT)
Teenager’s Body Recovered From Lake Powell

Park dispatch received a 911 call reporting a missing swimmer near Bullfrog Marina around mid-afternoon on Thursday, August 14th.

Rangers immediately began a boat and air search of the area, continuing until it became dark. They resumed their efforts the next morning, joined by a park dive team.

The body of the 19-year-old, a Mexican national living in the Salt Lake City area, was recovered late that morning. He is presumed to have drowned.

The incident was jointly investigated by the National Park Service and Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

Injured beachcomber rescued – http://www.comoxvalleyecho.com/news/local/cfb-comox-crews-rescue-woman-from-remote-beach-1.1322818

Missing boaters rescued – http://www.grandforksherald.com/content/night-time-mission-rescues-2-adults-and-2-children-stranded-lake

Stranded rafters rescued – http://www.svherald.com/content/derek-jordan/2014/08/24/387790

AAR: Advanced Human Tracking

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I just got back from Natural Awareness Training’s 3 day Advanced Human Tracking course held at Claytor Lake State Park in Dublin, Virginia.  http://trackingschool.com/courses/tracking-courses/human-tracking-courses/advanced-human-tracking

The class was sponsored by Virginia Department of Emergency Management and my special thanks goes to Billy Chrimes for allowing me to attend. All attendees were members of Search and Rescue teams scattered throughout the state. Tidewater, Piedmont, SARTI, and Black Diamond to name a few. If you are not familiar with Virginia’s Search and Rescue program, it is by far one of the most well organized and managed SAR programs I have seen, offering great training free to resident SAR team members and volunteers.  http://www.vaemergency.gov/em-community/training/course-catalogue#sar

Rob opened up the class by asking what we would like to focus on. The majority of us agreed that aging was high on the list, so Friday started out making aging stands in the grass and a nearby beach. We followed that with some step-by-step tracking and then a night signcutting off established trails exercise. An inch of rain, strong winds, and a 40 degree temperature change added some challenging variables to the class.

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Can you tell the ages on these creases and bruises?

On Saturday, we returned to the aging stands, had a lecture on vehicle tracking, and headed back to the signcutting exercise to see what we had missed at night. After lunch, the scenario started with a report of four missing teenage boys riding ATV’s and a mountain bike, last seen in a gravel parking lot. If you haven’t tried tracking a mountain bike across a well used gravel parking lot, I can tell you it is tough, but doable.

With all four teams on the mission, we were all able to find our vehicles and the foot trail leading off from them about a mile away. Another half mile or so of tracking, and all four teams found their subjects.

Sunday, we woke up to ice covered trees and ground. The goal that day was to bring Canine Handlers and Visual Trackers together so that we could both understand each other’s role and how we can work together. A trail was laid on Friday, one on Saturday, and I laid the freshest one that morning. Three dogs and three trackers attempted to follow the sign that had been rained on for two days and then frozen during the night.

“Juno” showed her stuff, successfully following Friday’s sign and identifying the maker out of the group, while the tracker was thwarted by the obliterated sign. Dogs, like humans, have good days and bad days, exhibited by the bloodhound that didn’t have a good showing on the Saturday’s sign and the border collie on my fresh sign. Frosty tracks in the pine needles were not hard to see.

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Like ground crews and aircraft, dogs and visual trackers are just two more tools in the Search and Rescue manager’s arsenal and I came away with some new understanding of integrating dogs with visual trackers. As always, one of the highlights of the trip was meeting and interacting with new friends. I am always amazed at the level of selflessness and motivation exhibited by Search and Rescue volunteers that attend these courses.

If you are interested in tracking, either animal or human, I am pleased to announce that I am in discussion with another tracker about forming a tracking “club” to work skills on a monthly basis. BigPig Outdoors will also be hosting Rob’s tracking classes in 2014, so check back on the website for updates.

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