Twenty-seven IMSRU members spent part of a Saturday at the end of May training with the Idaho National Guard. Members were introduced to many aspects of Blackhawk operations, including exposing our search dogs to the experience of boarding with engines and rotors running. It is not uncommon for IMSARU and the National Guard Blackhawks to cross paths on SAR missions, so this was an important training opportunity. We are grateful to the Blackhawk crews for giving their time on Saturday to ensure that we are familiar with safe and effective work in and around these helicopters. Additional thanks go to all those in the National Guard chain of command who helped make this training possible.
The K9 Team held water human remains detection (HRD) training Saturday in Gem County. The training was organized and run by Julie, who is a National Search Dog Alliance (NSDA) evaluator. Andy’s new boat, with it’s low profile, is ideal for this type of training, as the dogs can get their noses close to the water while searching for the source. He also installed a carpeted platform in the bow, which gives the K9s a stable, flat surface to work from. His boat will get a lot of use this summer as some teams prepare for water certifications in late June, and teams new to the discipline gain exposure to this specialized skill. The dogs and handlers loved spending a hot day on the water. Participating K9s: Cricket (seen in the photo), Libby, Watson, Riffle and Yoki.
Eighteen members spent May’s SAR training field day at the compound working through six stations covering different mission skills. Stations were proctored by seven senior members of the unit, testing and teaching topics covering field leadership, mission prep, twenty-four hour packs, navigation, first aid, and patient packaging. We’ve had a quiet end to winter and beginning of spring as far as mission callouts are concerned, making training like this very important for us to stay sharp for the time when that call does come.
We drove through rain mixed with snow and watched the black clouds on our way up to Grey Back Gulch on Saturday morning, but the clouds went around and Linda had set up good problems. The novice trackers had two sign lines through actual green vegetation (a luxury for southwest Idaho) and the certified trackers followed a line along the edge of a dirt/gravel road that had been well traveled by hikers (including a bunch of children), motorcycles, and ATVs. The sign line then left the road and went up a dirt bank at a convenient place for deer and campers gathering firewood…challenging and rewarding.
Membership at Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue (IMSARU) has varied over the 50-plus years of our existence. For years, our communications described us as an “all-volunteer 60-member organization dedicated to saving lives through search, rescue and mountain safety education.” Interest in IMSARU and what we do has drawn a large number of new people who want to become members. We are proud to announce that we are now an “independent 100-plus member organization.”
IMSARU meets every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at our Compound, at 2519 Federal Way in Boise. Any and all are welcome to attend meetings to learn more about us. The unit has members skilled in search, search management, technical rescue, canine search, mantracking, mountain biking search, and emergency outdoor first aid. Since we never charge the people we help, we are heavily dependent on donations and fundraising projects to maintain our unit readiness.
—BY JIMMIE YORGENSEN, PRESIDENT
IMSARU’s affiliation with the Race to Robie Creek continued this year. Supporting the Race to Robie Creek is a lot of work for IMSARU members, but it is an event we look forward to every year. IMSARU provides logistics and communication support, staffs first aid stations throughout the course, and establishes a medical tent at the finish line along with Ada County Paramedics and East Boise County Ambulance personnel. Approximately forty IMSARU members combined with many other businesses, organizations, and volunteers to make the 2014 race a safe and successful event.
On Saturday April 12th, IMSARU members spent another day in the field working on navigation skills. This time around we were looking to simulate an actual search callout. Basecamp for equipment and communication management was established at the trailhead for Castle Rock outside Horseshoe Bend. We have been working to better utilize our mapping software as a tool to upload team assignments to GPS units, so that process was emphasized in today’s training. Each of four teams was given a unique route to follow out of basecamp. Upon reaching the end of their assigned route, teams were then asked by our OL for the day to proceed to a new point using only map and compass. Our assigned routes and map points were well distributed throughout the steep hillsides in the Castle Rock area giving us plenty of feedback on our current fitness level as well as testing our ability to navigate.
Chris Brookman took the reins for our navigation training this spring, combining GPS with map and compass into a two-part course spread over our March and April SAR training dates. With a classroom session completed on Tuesday night, approximately 20 IMSARU members headed to the field in the Highlands Hollow area on Saturday morning. Chris laid out several different courses in this in-town area that is a bit more confined than our usual search environment, allowing for a multi-leg orienteering course testing basic navigational skills. This was a first-time learning experience for some, while others used the day as a refresher. The orienteering course covered reading and understanding map features for navigation, GPS setup for various combinations of coordinate systems and datums, GPS navigation to a coordinate location, taking a compass bearing, and walking a specified compass heading. Next month’s training will build on these basic skills as well as pulling everything together in a simulated search environment.
Thirteen members worked indoors on tracking skills on the evening of February 6th and another nine members did the same exercises on Saturday, February 8th with the addition of an impromptu outdoor challenge in the fresh snow and drizzle. Both groups practiced recognition of footwear types and drawing footprints, as well as matching vocabulary terms from the JHPTS glossary and a brief exercise in reading a short line of sign.
The tech team gathered on a plateau above Highway 21 near Grimes Creek for training on Sunday, February 23. Emphasis for this day was on building and operating the belay system. Seven current members of the tech team at the Technician and Specialist levels got a chance to practice belay system fundamentals while also instructing four prospective tech team members. The team built a full system, allowing several iterations of lowering/raising a single rescuer load, and giving everyone the opportunity to work on various parts of the system.