KISAR July Training

We plan on doing an orienteering, area search, small hasty team, and radio comms training on Saturday July 23 at Termination Point. Depending on the number of participants, we will break into as many as 3 groups. The routes, polygons, and waypoints for the training will be emailed to participants as a kmz document that can be opened in the Gaia GPS phone app.

A general overview of the course is shown on this map:

Instructions for each team are provided in the following pdf documents:

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KISAR and the May Monashka area search

This is a brief post to offer some insights into KISAR’s participation in the recent search for Sawyer Cipolla, the 7-year-old boy who disappeared from the residential area at the bottom of Three Sisters Way on May 7. There was an outpouring of sympathy for the plight of Sawyer and his family, resulting in a community-wide mobilization to assist in finding him. The story of the overall search effort with the thousands of citizens, professional and volunteer agencies, law enforcement, USCG and other military assets, is outside the scope of the incident report that we have prepared recounting KISAR’s involvement. Please refer to news articles written on the incident or the forthcoming report from the law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction for the larger view of the search effort. This document is meant to recount KISAR members’ efforts to assist in bringing resolution to the tragic events between May 7 and 15, 2022.

Our deepest thanks to the members of the wider Kodiak community for their efforts, and our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Sawyer.

KISAR Incident Report for the Cipolla Search, 2022

KISAR members conducting line-abreast sweep searches
KISAR members conducting line-abreast sweep searches
KISAR members and USCG Rescue Swimmers conducting line-abreast sweep searches
KISAR members and community volunteers conducting line-abreast sweep searches
KISAR team belaying a member for high-angle search
KISAR members training on a dual-rope, twin-tension raise and lower system
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March Avalanche Level 1

For KISAR’s March training, we partnered with the USCG and the Alaska Avalanche School to bring 3 instructors to Kodiak to conduct a Level 1 avalanche class. In order to encourage the widest range of participation, the 18 students were split 6 from KISAR, 6 from USCG, and 6 from the general public. The weather over the weekend was great and Kodiak is finally experiencing an interesting snowpack. A huge thanks to the Alaska Avalanche School for helping make this happen!





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January IRIC Training

KISAR is planning an Incident Response Incident Commander (IRIC) course as our January training. The dates will be January 22nd and 29th. This is a basic search management course for those who are tasked with the initial management of a search.  The training will be set up as a virtual (Zoom) course and will most likely have participants from other places in Alaska besides Kodiak. The Bayside Fire Station Training Room will not be available due to COVID protocols.  This IRIC will require participating members to work independently at their own locations or team up with someone else who is taking the course. There are numerous prerequisite steps to participate including installing software, reading manuals, and watching instructional videos as outlined in the document Nick sent to members. These tasks take time, so participating members should allocate sufficient time prior to the course to accomplish what is expected.

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December WFA Training

For KISAR’s December training we brought Deb Ajango of Safety Ed to Kodiak for an intensive weekend Wilderness First Aid course. Deb is an amazing instructor and we always enjoy her deep experience and compelling delivery.

KISAR has developed a series of medical quick reference cards based on Deb’s WFA courses that are available on the links page. They are jpeg images that can be downloaded and placed in a photos app on your phone for reference in the field. Here is the infection card:

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November meeting and training

KISAR will be holding a general membership meeting on Wednesday, Nov 17 at 7:00 PM at Bayside Fire Hall. Following the meeting we will present information regarding a Two Tensioned Rope System (TTRS) . TTRS is the technical rescue rigging standard for search and rescue and allows the safe raise and lower of a rescuer with a litter and/or rescue subject across a variety of slope angles. Because Covid has been so disruptive to our regular training schedule and we are all a little rusty, we will be concentrating on rope work fundamentals like scene and edge safety, understanding rigging hardware, knots and anchors, litter rigging, and building and operating a mirrored raise and lower rope system.

We will be observing current Covid precautions during the meeting and training. Be vaccinated, wear a well-fitting mask, maintain social distance, and please stay home if you are feeling sick. A negative Covid NAAT or PCR test within 48 hours of a KISAR meeting or training is a suitable substitute for full Covid vaccination.

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KISAR March Snow Stability Training

On Saturday March 20, KISAR members climbed Pyramid Mountain to the upper Jibber Bowl and conducted snow stability tests including hand hardness assessments and conducting extended column tests (ECTs). New snow had fallen overnight and during the day but most of the snowpack was a series of alternating layers of pencil- or knife-hardness ice lenses with fist-hardness, poorly consolidated, old round-grain snow (sugar) between. Pits gave varying results depending on general wind exposure at the location.

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KISAR March Meeting

We were hoping to cover safe avalanche terrain travel, avalanche awareness, and snowpack stability assessment this month. The snowpack is currently rock solid so not very interesting to do stability tests on, but we will tentatively stick to the topic and hope for an (unlikely) change in the weather patterns.

Please find the time to watch all 5 parts of this American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) lecture on YouTube, especially if you have limited avalanche training. Sadly it’s just a video camera recording a public event, so the video and audio quality are rather poor, but it is still the most comprehensive and professional treatment of the topic I can locate online that is free.






This interactive online avalanche course from New Zealand is also pretty good and a lot more modern and interactive in its presentation:

We will discuss next Saturday’s actual training at the Wednesday March 17 KISAR general meeting at Bayside at 7 PM. Please consider watching the lecture as Wednesday’s training topic that would otherwise normally follow the meeting. We will have a short presentation to underscore some of the main points made in the lecture and present local resources to help in avalanche decision making.

The wearing of masks and all the current COVID safety protocols will be observed. Community transmission is low, and many have already received some part of their vaccination regimen. But out of respect for the un- or partially-vaccinated in our community, we will stay vigilant.

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KISAR February Avalanche Transceiver Training

On Saturday Feb 20, KISAR members met at the Pyramid Pass parking area to conduct a field exercise with avalanche transceivers. We ran through a number of demonstrations of how modern transceivers interpret flux lines and how a buried beacon’s physical orientation affects the searcher’s path to the victim. We practiced multiple burial scenarios, demonstrating the transceiver’s mark function. Then we simulated an avalanche accident scene with 2 buried transceivers and had all members practice going through the signal search, coarse search, and fine search for each victim. We practiced probing, and discussed effective digging technique for various burial depths, for a either single rescuer or a group of rescuers. We also performed a probe line demonstration.

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KISAR meeting February 18

KISAR will hold its general membership meeting Thursday February 18 at 7 PM at Bayside Fire Hall.

This will be our first in-person meeting since before the spike in COVID cases in the fall. With the last official positive test for COVID-19 occurring on Feb 12 and at that time there were only 4 active cases in the community, we feel it can be safe for us to meet in person observing all appropriate COVID safety measures. Please wear a good-fitting mask, socially distance, etc.

Following the general membership meeting, Philip will present a slideshow and lecture on avalanche transceiver theory and use that will lay the groundwork for the scheduled outdoor avalanche transceiver training on Saturday, Feb 20.

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