Sixteen IMSARU members and a guest from the Idaho Division of Aeronautics spent the weekend training in the snow near Mores Creek Summit. The trip began with sunny skies and warm temps, but overnight the weather stepped up the challenge a bit by adding 5″ of new snow. Members used a full array of structures including trenches (with snow or tarp roof), snow caves, tents, and tree wells. This is an annual training event for IMSARU, giving members a chance to hone their preparation, gear, and tactics for use in a cold and possibly wet environment. The goal is to expose members to conditions seen during a winter search, and prepare them for the possibility of spending a winter night out with a stranded subject, when night-time extraction is not available.
It was another successful effort, selling corn at the Western Idaho Fair. Every year, IMSARU members and friends work as unpaid volunteers, converting corn in the husk at the back of the booth into delicious hot buttered corn-on-the-cob for sale at the front. A very big thanks goes to all who help in this task (truly a year-long process that ramps up for the month of August)! Thanks as well to all the people who stop by to purchase corn. As a 501(c)(3), fund-raising is a part of our activities and the all-volunteer labor staffing the booth allows us to fund about half of our yearly budget.
An Idaho Public TV crew followed IMSARU activities intermittently for about two years, and compiled their footage into an Outdoor Idaho program. You can view this program at …. http://video.idahoptv.org/video/2365415363/
On Sunday, February 22nd, the K9 team held a training at Celebration Park. The training was designed to simulate real scenarios and a National Search Dog Alliance land human remains detection test. It was a great opportunity for the K9 flankers to practice their radio and navigation skills as well as getting to know our K9s so they can learn to read them in the field. It was warm and sunny with a slight downstream breeze to move scent. We had subjects from the Civil Air Patrol who were able to utilize their field skills. Thanks to Jamie and Julie for an excellent training!
IMSARU members went to the Sunset Mountain area in Boise County to train for a snow mission requiring them to spend a night out. Training this year took on added significance, as a mission in January had five of our members overnighting in the snow with a subject. For this outing we had dry and warm weather. This recent warm weather pattern comes with the downside of providing a dwindling snowpack, leaving just enough snow at elevations around 7,000 feet for our group to work with. Shelters included tents, simple trenches, a quinzee hut, and a trench with snow roof. A cool, starry night meant varying levels of sleep, followed by return hike to the vehicles Sunday morning. While we don’t frequently need to overnight in the field on winter missions, our recent history dictates that it is a good idea to train for such an event. Members attending this outing now have a better idea of gear and tactics needed to get themselves and a subject through a winter night out when extraction needs to wait for daylight.
Twenty-three members of the IMSARU team went to Soldier Mountain on the weekend of January 24-25 for avalanche awareness field training. Taught by NSP Level 1 instructor and long-time IMSARU member Brad Acker, this weekend is one pillar of member training to safely and effectively participate in a winter mission. Classroom work done in conjunction with this field event introduces participants to safe winter backcountry travel and rescue skills. Saturday’s training centered around individual skills stations involving probing, shoveling, and beacon searches. At day’s end, participants had a chance to alternate hiding and finding a beacon on the hillsides while working their way back to the parking area. Sunday started with a discussion of snow stability assessment before the group returned to the top of Soldier Mountain to execute two full search scenarios involving search management, beacon searches, clue management, spot probing, and probe lines. A big thanks to Brad for coordinating the training and to all who turned out for two long days of “playing” in the snow.
The course provided an opportunity for K9 teams already certified in human remains detection to expand their skills by working in simulated disaster scenarios. Teams were challenged by working on rubble piles and in confined spaces underground. The course, held in Elko, NV, was organized by Cheryl Cuthbertson and sponsored by Elko County Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue.
Instructors were Greg Strickland, FEMA and law enforcement K9 handler from Florida, and Doug Fisher, Elko County S.O. K9 handler and master trainer for the American Society of Canine Trainers.
In the photo, K9 Uki and handler Siw get raised from the underground tunnel system by Elko firemen. Other IMSARU teams participating were Ann with K9s Watson and Cricket, and Jamie with K9 Yoki.
IMSARU training for October returned to navigation practice. We took some time in the classroom on Tuesday night to review basics of map, compass, GPS, and mapping software. On Saturday it was off to Polecat Gulch where 30 members walked through a course set up by Chris Brookman, our go-to navigation trainer. The course tested our ability to navigate to search areas, use a specified search technique, convert between coordinate systems, execute a variety of basic navigation skills, and return with tracks to upload into the mapping software.
Next month we'll be working on search leadership and tactics in the classroom. Our field day will be spent at the compound working on basecamp setup and mission equipment. Come join us.
IMSARU returned to its monthly training schedule in September after an August devoted to fund raising. This month’s training topic was patient packaging and litter handling. Members were introduced to concepts and equipment in the classroom on Tuesday night, moving to “hands-on” field training on Saturday morning. We practiced packaging patients in our various litter options including the Stokes basket, Cascade breakdown litter, and a Sked at the compound. We then moved to Tablerock for a scenario using Rescue Randy as a fall victim requiring extrication along a path filled with obstacles. The day finished with an introduction to working as a litter attendant for a steep angle technical rescue scenario.