KISAR May Technical Ropes Training

For KISAR’s May training we headed into Fort Abercrombie State Park and constructed a dual capability two-tensioned rope system to perform a ‘pick off’ rescue of a subject in complicated high angle terrain. The group explored building anchors using the trees at the top of the cliff, assembled a twin rope lowering system with one rope passing through a high redirect near the cliff top to assist with the edge transition, and then lowered a rescuer to where the subject was located at the base of the cliff. The rescuer then placed the subject in a harness and the team at the top converted the rope systems to a raise configuration and brought the rescuer and subject back up the cliff. We performed 3 repetitions of the exercise to allow KISAR members to experience multiple tasks in the scenario such as directing the overall operation, acting as rescuer, subject, edge attendant, prusik minder, or brake operator, etc.

The dual capability two-tensioned rope system was constructed based on the rigging manual Philip put together for KISAR which is available as a printable pdf booklet or as individual images.

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KISAR April Training

For KISAR’s April training we teamed up with the USCG Air Station to practice basket hoists, trail line tending, and helicopter ingress/egress. The air crew was very generous with their time and it was a fun training. Familiarizing KISAR members with working under a machine like an MH-60 Jayhawk is an important component of deployments and SAR missions when we coordinate with the USCG.

This is a video from the training: (Vimeo) USCG-KISAR Hoist Training

The same video from the training: (YouTube) USCG-KISAR Hoist Training

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KISAR March Meeting and Training

For the training following the March KISAR general membership meeting, Philip presented a talk on resources for planning backcountry travel across the island or throughout the archipelago for SAR missions or personal travel. The focus will be on satellite mapping resources for route planning, recent high-resolution satellite imagery for snowpack or vegetation evaluation, land ownership and access maps, shorezone and coastal imagery for paddle sports, weather forecasting services, and understanding tides and currents in the archipelago.

These are links to the topics that were covered during the training:

Mapping Resources:

•       Google Earth:

•       GaiaGPS:

•       Bing Google Earth layer:

•       USGS Topo Google Earth layer:

Satellite Imagery Resources:

•       Google Maps:

•       Bing Maps:

•       Apple Maps:

•       Sentinel Hub Playground:

Weather and Tide Prediction Resources:

•       Windy:

•       FAA Weather Cams:,57.55372,-151.8342,57.93155/airport/ADQ/details/camera

•       WX2InReach:

•       AOOS Alaska Shorezone Viewer:

•       Tide App for Tides and Predicting Currents:

Land Access Resources:

•       Kodiak Island Borough GIS Viewer:

•       State DNR land access/easements:

Google Earth route planning:

Sentinel Hub near-time satellite imagery:

AOOS portal for Alaska Shorezone imagery and video:

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KISAR February Meeting and Training

For KISAR’s post meeting training for February, Philip offered a talk on safe mountain snow travel looking at factors affecting avalanche hazard like terrain, snowpack, weather, and human factors.

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KISAR January Training

For KISAR’s January general membership training Philip set a course of clues in Fort Abercrombie State Park between Lake Gertrude and the wildflower meadow. The search area was bounded on the east side by Abercrombie Drive and by trails on the other 3 sides. 40 ‘clues’ were deposited in the search area in the form of squares of orange and green paper with numbers written on them. After a briefing, 9 KISAR members formed a critical separation line-abreast team and methodically swept the search area in 4 passes, recovering 32 of the 40 clues (80%), which was slightly higher than the goal of 65%. The purpose of the training was to become familiar with factors influencing the probability of detection of clues and to practice doing a critical separation sweep search with group situational awareness and good communication.

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KISAR December Training

We are partnering with the Kodiak USCG Air Station for our December training. KISAR members will receive a lecture on Air Station operations, helo safety and operations inside and out, how KISAR is likely to interact with the aircraft, personnel deployment and recovery options, on scene comms, and other topics. The classroom session will be followed by a training in tending the trail line during basket hoists under a MH-60 outside.

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KISAR November Training

For our November training we had hoped to bring Deb Ajango of Safety Ed down to Kodiak to do a Wilderness First Aid refresher class, but unfortunately some wires got crossed and the class fell through. As a substitute training we will be repeating the orienteering and small group search training from July, so please scroll down to the next entry on this page to see the details. Cheers.

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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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