Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 8:45 Jeff Lehman
The first weekend in March, the California Region of the Mountain Rescue Association, descended upon the desert in San Bernardino County for their annual reaccredition. Many thanks to West Valley SAR for organizing this year's effort. It takes a lot of time and effort to host an event that calls for hundreds of SAR team members from more than 20 teams to arrive at a single location with all of their vehicles, and related equipment. Not to mention, setting up all of the scenarios, arranging for "missing hikers", "missing evidence", food, etc. A special thanks to nearby San Bernardino teams: Morongo Basin SAR, Victor Valley SAR and the Barstow Desert Rescue Squad for assisting with logistics and missing people. Until you have attended an MRA reaccreditation, it is difficult to understand the amount of work that it takes to host one of these events.
The Cave Team, West Valley SAR, and Wrightwood SAR successfully completed their reaccreditations after tracking and locating a missing hiker, and completing an evidence search. All the while, the command post and field teams are under the watchful eyes of MRA evaluators.
The Mountain Rescue Association is the only nationally recognized body that accredits search and rescue teams. To be a fully accredited member, the team must complete 3 accreditations: Search Management/Tracking, Winter Snow and Ice Operations, and Technical Rope Rescue. To obtain these accreditations, prospective teams are mentored by a fully-accredited team until they are ready to test. The test is then completed by the team, and evaluated by other MRA team members from across the state. To complete a single MRA accreditation often requires multiple years of planning and preparation. For example, the Cave and Technical Rescue Team completed their technical rope accreditaion in 1999 after nearly 2 years of preparation. A few years later, the team decided to complete accreditation in the remaining two disciplines, and successfully completed them in 2006 and 2008. San Bernardino County has two fully-accredited teams (West Valley SAR, and the Cave Team), and one associate member team (Wrightwood SAR) who has completed the Search/Tracking accreditation.