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Practice makes perfect for search and rescue training

May 14, 2014 by

A group of 12 members of Lake and Klamath County Search and Rescue volunteers went through training and simulations near Twenty Mile Creek outside Adel, May 2-4.

The first two days were spent with orientation and training to teach new volunteers important skills such as emergency survival, land navigation, rescue techniques, tracking and radio communications.

Sunday, May 4, was a chance to put those newly acquired skills to practice in a simulated search and rescue operation, finding two supposedly missing hang glider pilots tasked with locating clues leading to the whereabouts of the missing individuals.

Led by Sheriff Deputy Daniel Tague and Safety and Training Coordinator Aaron Collins, teams set up a base station at a nearby campground and briefed on the area where the downed pilots, nicknamed the Marx Brothers, might be found.

Normally coordinating with spotters from the air, two search teams were dispatched, led by Chuck Messner and Tracy McLain, to scan the area looking for items Collins had left in several locations within the designated search zone.

With the identification of one possible item, Finn, a search and rescue dog in training from the K-9 unit, was dispatched to pick up the scent for more clues.

Within several hours the items representing downed gliders and two dummies had been found, coordinated from the base camp through radio relays, and rescue operations began to return the dummies safely back to camp.

Search and Rescue functions as a support of the Sheriff’s Department, acting as boots on the ground in an emergency situation and communications center.

Flight crews scan areas weather permitting and send teams out to search anything spotted that appears conspicuous, then utilizing GPS and tracking skills to find and recover lost or injured individuals.

Lake County Search and Rescue includes 38 total volunteers, and receives on average three or four emergency dispatches in a season according to Collins, but their training remains active to ensure that when the call arrives they are prepared to save a life.

Those interested in joining Search and Rescue can contact Collins at 775-304-2535.

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