On the Memorial

Entries in Cave & Technical Rescue Team (17)


Two Missions on Baldy

West Valley SAR received a call Friday night for some overdue hikers in the Baldy area whose family said that they were going to "walk the creek". The missing 21 and 13 year old were to return at dark, and when they failed to show, their family notified authorities. Sheriff's Aviation was also on scene and was successful in locating the missing hikers in Stead Canyon. Throughout the night, a ground team attempted to locate the hikers, but due to the brush, and lack of response to their shouts and whistles, the searchers were not able to establish contact. At first light, Sheriff's Aviation launched a rescue ship which was successful in hoisting the two hikers and their dogs. After a chilly night, and a short helicopter ride, the two hikers were released to their family.

View Two Baldy Missions on 11/27/2010 in a larger map

Just as the air crew was gathering their gear, Baldy Fire caught a call for an unconscious hiker on the hut trail. The report said that by-standers were administering CPR, and that the patient was not responsive. Members of Baldy Fire, San Bernardino County Fire, and AMR made their way up the trail, while members of the Cave Rescue Team and San Bernardino Mountain Rescue Team quickly joined them after gathering a litter, litter wheel, backboard, and oxygen bottle. 
Rescuers continued CPR and employed an AED, but the collapsed hiker never regained a heartbeat. Sheriff's Aviation returned to the Baldy area after fueling, and lowered a medic and litter. One member of San Bernardino Mountain Rescue Team and one Baldy Fire crew member walked the deceased hiker's girlfriend down the trail, while the remaining SAR members and fire crew packaged the hiker, and assisted in the hoist.




Rescue Near Monkeyface Falls

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Two hikers were attempting a climb of San Bernardino Peak via a ridgeline between Frustration Creek and Monkeyface Falls. One of the hikers fell several feet into some dense brush, and his partner hiked two hours out to summon help. The RP could not identify the exact location of the fall, so in the afternoon of September 13th members of San Gorgonio SAR and Valley of the Falls SAR (Team 1) were inserted at the 6800' level to begin a search downhill. Later that evening additional SAR teams responded to assist in the search, and a second team (Team 2) composed of members of the Cave & Technical Rescue Team began the climb up the hillside from Highway 38.

After an arduous climb, uphill through the heavy brush, Team 2 made voice contact with the missing hiker, and arrived on scene about one minute before Team 1, to find the missing hiker alert, but injured. A litter was ordered, and the teams began the search for an LZ for evacuation. At approximately midnight, the hiker was moved to the LZ making use of a number of tree belays. Team 2 spent the night with the hiker, and assisted in the helicopter evacuation at approximately 0700 hrs that morning. Rather than waiting an hour for the helicopter to return, they decided to hike the 40 minutes back to the highway.


Rescue Near Baldy, Below Sugarloaf Peak

View Dotti Rescue in a larger map

West Valley SAR received a call early Monday morning for two hikers who had become stuck after an unsuccessful retreat from Sugarloaf Peak. The hikers were located in a drainage about 1200' below the peak, exhausted, and unable to proceed safely. With the help of Sheriff's Aviation the hikers were located, and a team of 3 made their way to the hikers' location. The climb to the hikers was a steep talus slope common to the area, but the true difficulty was the heavy "buck brush" in a 200' swath between drainages. The first team on scene took approximately 2 hours to traverse this patch of brush. Team 2, comprised of members of the Cave & Technical Rescue Team and the Mountain SAR Team scouted a route at first light. It was determined that this team could avoid much of the brush if they climbed to a band of rocks approximately 200' above the stranded hikers, then dropped into the drainage. As it turned out, this was the easier route. After approximately 2 hours of climbing, Team 2 reached the hikers and the two teams began to assess evacuation options.

Not long after Team 2 arrived, the command post was notified that 40-K was inbound to assess a possible helicopter extraction. The slope was rather steep, but the air crew was able to load all passengers via a hover step. 3 trips were required to get everybody back to Cow Canyon Saddle. The hikers were tired, but relatively unharmed.


Cave Team Assists in Mock Rescue

The Cave and Technical Rescue Team (@CaveRescue) assisted with a National Cave Rescue Commission Orientation to Cave Rescue course at California Caverns. The OCR is a two-day introduction to cave rescue that ends with a cave rescue exercise. The Cave Team personnel provided all of the victims for the scenario, and served as the command staff. 4 "lost" cavers with varying injuries were located, packaged, and evacuated. More than 20 students participated.


Rescue Near San Antonio Falls (7/5-6/2010)

The call for a missing hiker on Baldy came in on the evening of July 5. Derek Rice, Greg Umberg, Eric Spaeth, and Dan Carlson, all of West Valley SAR were the first to respond. More resources were required, so the call went to other teams for assistance. Members of Rim SAR and the Cave Team responded. With Derek Rice running operations, Donna Newlin (Rim SAR) and Robert Misiuk (WV SAR) drew a strenuous assignment and made their way up Goode Canyon and over the ridge to the Sierra Hut Trail. Eric Spaeth and Dan Carlson descended San Antonio Canyon while Greg used a searchlight focused up the canyon. Faint cries for help could be heard in the San Antonio Falls area, but the team descending the canyon halted their descent because of the rock fall hazard, and the unknown location of the subject. 40-King was called to fly the area, but they were also unsuccessful at locating the hiker. Another airship was ordered for "first light" and arrived on scene at 0630 hours the following morning.

View Baldy Rescue 7/6/2010 in a larger map

In the morning light, the airship was able to spot the hiker above the fourth set of falls in San Antonio Canyon. 40-King tried, unsuccessfully, to find a one skid LZ, but they were able to contact the subject on the PA to find that he was OK except for an injured leg. Not long after, the 4 Cave Team members arrived at the command post, and were given the most urgent assignment to get into San Antonio Canyon and make contact with the victim.
Our Air Rescue ship was grounded due to fog, so we called LA Air Rescue 5 to see if they could hoist. They were also delayed by the fog, and in the meantime, the Cave team got to within visual and voice distance to the victim just as Air Rescue 5 came on scene to hoist the hiker. The Cave guys made one heck of a try to get to the victim and would have succeeded given another 15min.
After interviewing the subject's wife; a hiker who heard a voice across San Antonio Canyon at 2100 hrs; and another woman who had spoken to three hikers who had actually spoken with subject at the PLS we found that the subject and his wife hiked to the Hut at 1030 hrs and arrived approx. 1230 hrs. The subject wanted to go to Baldy Peakk, but his wife tried to talk him out of it. They had no previous experience. Three hikers told the subject where the trail was and he took off. At approximately 1530 hrs, the three hikers spoke with the subject on the Sierra Hut Trail above the switchbacks as the subject was descending. He didn't know where the trail was and asked them for assistance. Since they were ascending, they told him to wait for other hikers who were descending, and they could help him find his way.




Rescue in Thunder Canyon Cave



On Sunday, May 2, I was finishing dinner when my teammate, Tad Gallistel, called me to tell of a phone call that he had just received about a stuck caver in Thunder Canyon Cave. A member of the party was stuck in the squeeze at the end, and after several unsuccessful attempts to get him out, decided that further assistance was required. The reporting party called the San Diego Sheriff then called Tad to explain the situation. I quickly called our coordinator, Dan Whitten,  and the VFU on-call person, Marion Browne, to explain the situation and to tell them to expect a call from CalEMA. In the meantime, a message was sent to the team advising them of the situation, but to hold until we get confirmation through the proper channels. Amazing for a bureaucracy, the call came about 15 minutes later, and we were able to roll the team.

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Cave Team Receives BioPak Rebreather Training

The Cave and Technical Rescue Team took possession of a number of BioPak 240 rebreathers that were purchased by The State of California as part of a grant. The "User" level of training was completed on Saturday with members of 3 Los Angeles County SAR teams at the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team's station. The 8 hour training included leak testing, flow testing, and other information required to operate the equipment. The second half of the day concluded with about 30 minutes "under oxygen" where we walked around the surrounding neighborhood. The day concluded with a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all the equipment. Training Sunday will be for "Benchmen", and will include periodic maintenance tasks. We will cover proper o-ring lubrication, more detailed leak detection, and other related service concerns. Our job will be to reassemble all of the cleaned and disinfected devices from Saturday.

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