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.
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.