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Posted on March 5, 2014 | 6:36 a.m.

County Search & Rescue Team Earns Recertification in Search Management

Source: Kelly Hoover for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team has successfully recertified in search management for lost people and missing aircraft.

One dozen team members traveled to Auburn State Recreation Park on the American River, north of Sacramento, this past weekend to participate in several search test scenarios required for membership in the elite Mountain Rescue Association.

Only about 100 Search & Rescue teams across the country qualify for membership in the MRA, which is recognized as the elite standard of wilderness and mountain rescue for search and rescue teams in the United States.

During the testing period, SBCSAR team members responded to one scenario in which a hiker was missing. Using man tracking techniques, team members tracked the missing hiker's footprints to locate him up a canyon with a simulated compound fracture to the lower leg. After stabilizing the broken leg, the subject was secured in a titanium stretcher and lowered by a rope system down to a trail where he was carried out by SBCSAR members.

The second test scenario required team members to organize and perform a grid search for evidence related to a simulated assault and rape. The team passed with an exceptionally high success rate in finding the scattered items. This scenario was especially timely given the team's involvement the previous week with a sexual assault case on the UCSB campus where team members used the same techniques to locate crucial evidence.

The last testing scenario involved locating a crashed aircraft by using electronic direction finding equipment to locate an emergency locating beacon (ELT) that aircraft are required to carry. In a real crash, an ELT is designed to automatically activate on impact, thus providing an emergency beacon that rescue teams use to pinpoint the downed aircraft using triangulation techniques. SBCSAR is the only emergency response agency with this specialize direction finding equipment in Santa Barbara County.

If you are interested in being part of the Search & Rescue Team, click here for more information.

— Kelly Hoover is a public information specialist for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

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