Posted 1/20/14 – During the month of December, Sierra Madre Search and Rescue (SMSR) responded to six calls for assistance to close out 2013. The Team responded to 96 incidents during the year and provided assistance to 84 individuals lost or injured in the mountains. Over 3,770 hours of time were logged by Team members while on these calls.
In addition to actual search and rescue calls, Team members logged over 7,400 hours in support of the Team’s mission. This included 17 public preventative search and rescue (PSAR) events where Team members discuss wilderness safety and preparedness with scout groups, schools, and other community groups. Members logged just under 4,800 hours of training in a broad array of SAR disciplines in order to maintain the high level of proficiency required to safely perform SAR operations. In total, Team members logged over 11,200 hours of official time in support of the Team. Many additional hours of unofficial time were spent by individual Team members maintaining their readiness.
Two noteworthy calls from December and the first call of 2014 are described in more detail below.
Missing Mountain Bikers, Arroyo Seco: The Team responded to a 5:30 a.m. mutual aid request from the Altadena Mountain Rescue Team (AMRT) on December 23rd to assist in search efforts to locate 4 mountain bikers overdue from a ride in the Arroyo Seco area. The subjects had been attempting to ride from the Switzer’s Camp area down past JPL and out at the trailhead on Windsor Ave. in Altadena. Search crews from AMRT and Montrose Search and Rescue had been working throughout the night to locate the bikers and additional personnel along with helicopter support had been requested to augment the search efforts. The 4 individuals had limited familiarity with the area and were located by a 2 person crew from SMSR near the mouth of Bear Canyon. All the subjects were tired but uninjured after a cold night out with limited gear. The team assisted the individuals back to their families at the trailhead. All personnel were released from the incident at 11:30 a.m.
Injured Hiker, Mt. Wilson Trail/Little Santa Anita Canyon: The Team completed their last operation of 2013 on December 30th with the rescue of a hiker on the Mt. Wilson Trail. The Team joined the SMFD at 1:08 p.m. upon being notified of a hiker injured in a slip and fall over the side of the trail. The hiker had fallen over the side and tumbled approx. 100 feet into the canyon after stepping on a loose rock that had given way. Rescuers made their way up to the incident location and used various rope rescue techniques to access the hiker. After securing the hiker in order to prevent a more extensive fall, the hiker’s injuries were assessed and he was raised to the trail where additional medical treatment was provided by SMFD paramedics. Given the nature of the injuries, the decision was made to wheel the hiker out to the waiting ambulance via the Stokes litter and wheel combination used on many rescues. The hiker was transferred to SMFD’s RA41 and was transported to the hospital for treatment. The operation was secured at 2:19 p.m.
Due to the holidays and our unseasonably warm weather, 2014 has started off with a series of rescues during the first week of January.
Hiker and Dog Over the Side, Chantry Flat: At 10:50 a.m. on January 2nd, SMSR was paged to respond to reports of a hiker and their dog off the side of the trail and stranded in near vertical terrain below the Chantry Flat parking area. Rescuers responded to the scene and found a hiker stranded approximately 30’ over the side after having attempted to help his dog who had fallen over the edge. Team members focused the initial rescue efforts on the dog owner and used a stranded hiker rescue technique to safely get the young man back onto the road. Rescuers proceeded to rappel into the San Olene Canyon drainage to attempt to locate the missing dog. Approximately 80’ over the side, the dog was located uninjured, but in a precarious position. The rescuer was able to coax the dog into his rescue pack so that the rescuer and dog could be safely raised back to the road. Dog and owner were reunited and the operation was secured at 12:38 p.m.
The Team extends our appreciation and thanks to the other emergency services agencies that we work with including; Sierra Madre Fire Department, Sierra Madre Police Department, LA County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the US Forest Service, and our fellow SAR teams.
Most importantly, we’d like to extend our sincere thanks to the residents of Sierra Madre and those that support the Team and enable us to help those in need.
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.