World Famous SMSR Passes Re-Certification With Flying Colors

Each year, members of The Mountain Rescue Association teams are tested in one of three subjects and, if they pass, are certified in that area of rescue training.   This year, fifteen teams, among them the world famous Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team, participated in the certification process, which took place in the shadows of Mt. Whitney, at Alabama Hills, just west of Lone Pine off Hwy. 395.  This year’s re-certification was in the “Technical Rock” area.  Last year the subject was Search and Tracking, and next year will be Snow and Ice.  The team arrived on Friday afternoon, and camped out at Turtle Creek campground that night.  The following morning, they were briefed, and then set out on their assignment.

The team had to locate their subject, who was in a rock formation about 600 ft. up from the floor of the valley. The preliminary bash crew,  consisted of Jon Pedder, Susan McCreary and Rodger Gray, with McCreary carrying the master med pack, which has just about everything an EMT level provider could need, including an oxygen tank.   The victim was located after about a 20-minute scramble up. The victim had a knee injury, possible fractured proximal tibia and patelar fractures. According to Susan McCreary, “She was a good actress and made us believe she was in agonizing pain!” 

Team members were staged below and followed the preliminary bash crew up, bringing over 1000′ of rope, lots of hardware, a litter and more to get the job done. Eric Triplett was crew chief and Mike Nalick was operations leader.  Other members of the team participating in the re-certification were Barbara Fortini, Roberto Crespo, Ed Kang, Taison Tran, Chuck Stoughton, Tim Cadogan, Tommy Ingulfsen, Karl Domangue, Larry Smith, Ron Hansen and Art Fortini.  Additional team members remained in Sierra Madre in case they were needed here.

The team hummed through the exercise in a very crisp and efficient way and Sierra Madre was the first team to complete their “problem”.  The prize for being first?  They had first dibs at the tri-tip BBQ down at base camp. 

There were two evaluators, one from Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit, and one from San Bernardino Cave Rescue Team. The subject was also a BAMRU team member.  McCreary was the primary medic, but part way through the problem they switched out at the patient’s request, and McCreary became the new subject. “I got a smooth ride with great views in the litter for about an hour,” said McCreary. “We were on the rocks from 10 until about 1:15 and passed our test with flying colors. SMSR rocks! ”

The accompanying photos were taken by the two evaluators with SMSR member cameras. SMSR wears the khaki shirts and red helmets.  Thanks to Susan McCreary for her help in putting this article together, and to Jon Pedder for sharing his photo album.


Sierra Madre is proud to be the home of the world-renowned Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team, a wilderness and mountain rescue team that has been in operation for more than 60 years. The all-civilian group of volunteers is supported through voluntary donations, and has all the necessary equipment to perform search and rescue  missions throughout L.A. County’s many   wilderness and mountainous areas. Its motto, “Anywhere in the wilderness someone needs help,” holds true, as the team has responded to calls from all over the world.