Posted 5/23/13 – As our local weather begins to improve, we are seeing an increase in search and rescue activity. The Sierra Madre Search and Rescue (SMSR) Team responded to eleven individual calls for assistance in April including a multi-day search in Orange County.
Missing Hikers, Trabuco Canyon, Orange County: The Team was requested on April 2nd to support a multi-agency request by the Orange County Sheriff to assist in the search for two missing teenage hikers in the Trabuco Canyon area. SMSR joined other Los Angeles County search and rescue teams on the second day of what would become a high profile 4 day search. SMSR personnel were deployed on a number of search assignments in very difficult terrain. Thick, 6-10 foot high brush and steep terrain made for difficult search conditions. Several assignments involved Team members being inserted via hoist from rescue helicopters. Additional personnel filled key roles in the Incident Command Post (ICP). The first missing hiker was successfully located late on April 3rd and was airlifted to a local hospital. The second hiker was located on a cliff on April 4th and was rescued via hoist by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Air-5 rescue helicopter. She was transported to the UCI Medical Center for treatment. The operation was secured at 4:15 p.m. on the 4th, almost 60 hours after SMSR personnel had joined the search.
Injured Hikers, Multiple Locations, Chantry Flat: At 12:30 p.m. on April 21st, SMSR, the Sierra Madre Fire Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to reports of an injured hiker at Hermit Falls below Chantry Flat. Team members and fire department paramedics made their way to the incident location while LACoFD ‘copter 19 set-up for a hoist rescue. While enroute to Hermit Falls, Team personnel made contact with other hikers who indicated that there was another injured hiker located near Cabin 16 approximately 1 mile below Chantry Flat. The incident command staff coordinating the response from the Chantry parking lot reconfigured the response to account for this second incident. Personnel made their way to the second subject while ‘copter 19 performed a hoist rescue of the hiker at Hermit Falls. She was transported to the helispot (a natural or improved takeoff and landing area intended for temporary or occasional helicopter use) above the Chantry parking area where she was transferred to an ambulance and transported to Arcadia Methodist Hospital. While the first hiker was being transported, field crews worked to stabilize the second hiker. The thick canopy of trees limited the ability of rescuers to use the helicopter to evacuate the hiker. Ground crews transported him approximately ½ mile to a point where ‘copter 19 was able to perform a hoist extraction. Due to the severity of the subject’s injuries, he was transported to LA County-USC Hospital. While not requiring transport to a hospital, a family member of the Hermit Falls hiker required assistance back to Chantry Flat due to an ankle injury. As has been noted in previous search and rescue activity reports, it is not unusual for additional information to come to light that forces a change in response to an emergency. The ability to effectively manage a dynamic situation is crucial to a successful outcome. The call was secured at 3 p.m.
For more than 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.