Inyo SAR is a member of the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA.) From their website at www.mra.org:
“The Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) was established in 1959 at Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood, Oregon making us the oldest Search and Rescue association in the United States.
The MRA is an organization of teams dedicated to saving lives through rescue and mountain safety education. We do so by improving the quality, availability, and safety of mountain search and rescue. With over 90 government authorized units, the MRA has grown to become the critical mountain search and rescue resource in the United States.”
Every spring, MRA teams get together and test to qualify in one of three SAR disciplines: technical rock rescue, snow and ice rescue, or search management and tracking. In California, one county typically hosts the reaccreditation tests, providing space for all the state’s teams to perform a full-fledged scenario within the year’s theme. This year, MRA teams had to perform a mock search for a downed airplane, and then track a patient from the crash site. (http://www.pcsomrt.org/2014Recert/index.asp)
The 2014 recert was scheduled for March 1st this year, but unfortunately a big storm came in the day before and gave us serious pause. We decided that traveling over two mountain passes to the event (hosted by Placer County, near Auburn, CA) with our command trailer in the thick of the storm was undesirable, to say the least. We opted to reschedule for the 3rd of May.
18 members of Inyo SAR traveled to Los Angeles county on May 2nd to take our retest. As we ventured down Highway 2, we were surprised by the ruggedness of the Los Angeles National Forest and started looking forward to meeting our proctors and getting out in the field the next morning at 08:00. The MRA provided us with a patient and 4 proctors who set up the scenario, alerted us to mock clues, and also acted as observers, judging our performance.
Field teams spent the next 6 hours using radio telemetry to search for an emergency beacon inside a “downed aircraft,” tracking a missing subject from the crash site, providing emergency, care and evacuating the patient. Meanwhile, a full incident command team collected information and doled out assignments to the field from a big picture perspective, using mapping software and collective experience to guide the operation.
After the patient was transferred to the ambulance, our proctors informed us that we were to assist nearby law enforcement in locating objects from a purse that had been stolen and then flung into a nearby field. Field teams used grid searching techniques to locate the missing objects.
With taxed bodies and brains from dealing with 90° heat, rugged terrain, communication hiccups and complex mapping problems, we came out the other side with a renewed MRA membership and a passing grade! Our proctors were particularly impressed with our tracking skills, excellent medical care, and swift transport of the patient to a waiting ambulance. Thanks to the MRA, our proctors and patient for coming out and spending the weekend with us in your beautiful mountains. Thanks to all Inyo SAR members who worked and trained for months leading up this recert, making our 2014 MRA membership possible.
Inyo SAR pretty much rules.