Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue announced that its 38 team members responded to a total of 138 call-outs in 2012. By comparison, the team — on call 24/7, 365 days per year — typically responds to an average of 120 to 140 call-outs annually.
Call-outs include searches, rescues and Sheriff’s Department assistance, such as evidence searches and medical support at Halloween.
This year’s call-outs included:
Lookout Fire Evacuation and Firefighter Rescue
Immediately following their evacuation of Painted Cave’s 100 homes during the Lookout Fire, the team responded to an injured CalFire firefighter within feet of the fire perimeter. Team members secured him into a stretcher and belayed him over seven steep waterfalls through the fire-threatened canyon back to the staging area at Highway 154, where he was then transferred to Cottage Hospital.
During their descent, team members also provided medical care to a County Fire captain who was showing signs of hyponatremia.
Stranded Mother-and-Daughter at Painted Cave
A mother and daughter became stranded on a cliff approximately 40 feet up from the historic Painted Cave Monument. SBCSAR team members climbed to the top, rappelled to their location and performed “pick-off rescues” to lower the pair, one at a time, safely to the ground. Team Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) determined that there were no injuries, and the mother and daughter were released.
Rescue of 9-Year-Old Girl at Tangerine Falls
At the popular Tangerine Falls, a mother called 9-1-1 when her 9-year-old daughter fell and broke her upper arm. SBCSAR and Montecito County Fire hiked to their location and assisted County Air Support Unit 309 in safely hoisting the severely injured girl into the helicopter. She was then transported and admitted to Cottage Hospital.
Dog Rescue at Gaviota Peak
Wrigley, a black Labrador, showed signs of heat distress on a hike up to Gaviota Peak. Team members arrived to their location just below the Peak, and SBCSAR K9 handler Juanita Smith tended to Wrigley’s emergency. SBCSAR returned the dog and owners to their car at the trailhead. Wrigley made a full recovery.
Search for Missing Avid Outdoorsman at Santa Cruz Trail
While SBCSAR reminds hikers and backpackers to prepare with adequate food, water and supplies, even the most experienced outdoorsmen may meet with misfortune on their adventures. A local backpacking columnist with 30 years of backcountry experience became lost when returning to Upper Oso Campground from a multiday trip. SBCSAR team members searched the area and located the missing man. Team EMTs cleared him, and he was released.
Copter 3’s First Rescue
County Air Support Unit Copter 3 recently made its first search and rescue mission in searching for two hikers in distress near Dutch Oven Campground in the Los Padres National Forest. Team members were flown to the hikers’ area near Big Pine Mountain, and SBCSAR EMTs evaluated their condition, determining that one hiker had suffered a sprained ankle. Copter 3 flew the hikers back to Santa Ynez Airport where they were released after Team EMTs found no additional injuries or medical emergencies.
In addition to the 138 call-outs in 2012, team members attended 24 trainings including rope rescue, swiftwater rescue, helicopter operations, tracking, urban search and rescue, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, Project Lifesaver, and Emergency Locator Transmitter Search.
Other 2012 SBCSAR Team highlights include:
Commissioning of Copter 3
After years of planning, the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit welcomed the “Queen” of its six-helicopter fleet, Copter 3. This 1960s Vietnam-era Huey has been completely refurbished and equipped to be a fully functional search and rescue helicopter.
Annual Training of Machu Picchu Search and Rescue
Each winter, SBCSAR members pay their own way to the sacred city of Machu Picchu, Peru, where they train local rescuers. This year, SBCSAR taught 37 individuals in swiftwater and rope rescue techniques, leaving behind rescue gear generously donated by CMC Rescue Inc. and REI of Santa Barbara.
Celebration of the SBCSAR 50th Anniversary
SBCSAR marked its 50 years of saving lives with a two-day celebration of open houses and a red carpet raffle party. The public met the team and search dogs, got up-close with rescue vehicles and a helicopter, learned to ascend ropes, were trained on hands-only CPR from the American Heart Association, and met animals rescued by the Animal Rescue Team.
Graduation of Two New Academies
Following months of intensive training, SBCSAR welcomed 10 new responding members.
Finally, the team laid to rest one of its dearest members. Kody, the Australian Shepherd search dog, participated in well more than 100 searches throughout California in his 10 years of active service. Current SBCSAR search dog Blaze will continue his hard work in 2013.
— Nelson Trichler represents Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue.