Posted 11/17/12 – During the month of October, Sierra Madre Search and Rescue (SMSR) responded to half a dozen calls for assistance. A selected set of calls are described below.
Injured Hiker, Chantry Flat/Big Santa Anita Canyon: Sierra Madre Search and Rescue responded to reports of an injured hiker near Hermit Falls. Rescuers arrived on scene to find a hiker suffering from a potential ankle fracture. Given the nature of the injuries and possible complications associated with a helicopter evacuation, a ground evacuation was initiated and the subject was wheeled out ~1.5 miles to an ambulance waiting at the trailhead.
Mutual Aid Request: Missing Hiker, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park: SMSR received a request from the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) to assist the National Park Service (NPS) in the search for a missing hiker in the Taboose Pass/Split Mountain area of the park. The hiker, Larry Conn, was reported overdue from a multi-day backpacking trip in the area. SMSR joined other SAR resources in an expanded search effort that included assignments in remote areas of the park. Crews were inserted by helicopter and spent several days looking for the missing man. Team members also filled roles within the incident management team overseeing the search. At this time, the subject remains missing and search efforts have been scaled back.
Rescue, Bailey Canyon: An early morning hike resulted in SMSR responding with the Sierra Madre Fire Department (SMFD) to rescue a hiker who had taken a ~100 foot fall off the trail in Bailey Canyon. Rescuers established a command post near the debris basin at the mouth of the canyon and sent crews up the trail to effect the rescue. SMFD paramedics provided stabilizing treatment to the injured hiker while SMSR personnel packaged him in a litter. After a short wheel out the subject was loaded into SMFD’s rescue ambulance and transported to the hospital.
Readers often see reference to a “litter” and an evacuation technique known as a “wheel out” and may not be familiar with the term. A litter is a basket-like stretcher designed to be used in difficult or hazardous terrain – like the mountains. The litter may be wheeled, carried by hand, lifted or lowered by rope or hoisted by helicopter. Once a person is strapped into the litter they can be safely evacuated by the techniques above. Given the rough terrain and narrow trails on our local mountains, a specially designed frame and ATV wheel is fitted to the litter. This allows a smoother and safer evacuation since the subject’s weight is carried by the wheel rather than by the rescuers. SMSR’s own Russ Anderson was a key developer of one of the modern litter wheel designs that is used around the world for SAR.
For 60 years the all-volunteer Sierra Madre Search and Rescue team has been responding to calls for help in the local mountains and beyond. Funded entirely by private donations, SMSR provides a range of public programs on wilderness safety in addition to its search and rescue activities. The Team never charges for any of its services.
For more information, including how to arrange a wilderness safety demonstration for your school or group, visit www.SMSR.org.