Five members of Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue returned home Sunday from an annual two-week trip to Peru to train local rescuers in swiftwater and rope rescue techniques.
Apu Waynapicchu Search and Rescue, also known as Machu Picchu Search and Rescue, began training in 2007 and became a unified team under SBCSAR’s tutelage in 2010.
Each winter, SBCSAR team members pay their own travel expenses to Peru to train Machu Picchu SAR on specific rescue techniques. This year’s training focused on swiftwater rescue, training in the Urubamba River’s Class IV and Class V rapids.
Methods taught included offensive and defensive swimming, strainers, shallow-water crossing, live bait, throw bags and rescue swimming. Additionally, SBCSAR members taught both Machu Picchu SAR and the community first aid and CPR.
“The sacred city of Machu Picchu and its surrounding areas are awe-inspiring, but the environment itself can be very dangerous,” SBCSAR team member Rick Stein said. “It’s not unlike Santa Barbara with steep mountains and cliffs, beautiful but potentially dangerous rivers, and exotic wildlife. SBCSAR team members train rigorously in this type of environment, and it’s an honor to train the local search and rescue team so that residents and visitors alike can enjoy the outdoors, knowing that first responders can come to their aid in an emergency.”
Stein and fellow SBCSAR team members Linda Phillips, Charles Gelinas, Kevin Hess and Kerrie Valdiviezo trained 27 members of Machu Picchu Search and Rescue.
Swiftwater and rope rescue gear was donated by Goleta-based rescue gear manufacturer CMC Rescue Inc. (stretcher, wheel and dry suits), REI of Santa Barbara and SBCSAR (personal flotation devices).
SBCSAR is an all-volunteer unit of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. The team consists of 38 highly trained unpaid professionals, 16 certified swiftwater rescue technicians and 25 emergency medical technicians. Members are on call 24/7 and serve all 2,735 square miles of Santa Barbara County, including Santa Cruz, San Miguel and Anacapa islands.
— Valerie Walston represents Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue.