Lydia Cullum joined KISAR in September of 2018. Since that time, she became a valued and integral part of our team and KISAR family. At every stage in her involvement with KISAR, her enthusiastic hunger for developing new skill sets, acquiring knowledge, and commitment to public service were character traits we all should aspire to replicate. Her intelligence, athleticism, easy-going personality, and unerring generosity and humanity will be deeply missed by her teammates. It is hard to imagine a bigger blow to our organization than her passing. She was, simply put, a perfect fit for KISAR. We will miss her in her roles as a student, a team member, a teacher, and as a friend.
Below is a short narrative outlining Lydia’s involvement with KISAR. This is by no means an exhaustive accounting of the myriad of ways she made KISAR more effective, more relevant, and us as her friends better people.
In November of 2018 Lydia joined us in her first training which was a simulated call out for a hiker had fallen off a cliff in Fort Abercrombie. Lydia and an another KISAR member formed a hasty team to travel to the site and assess the situation. Other members assembled gear at Bayside Fire Hall that might be useful. After the subject was located the hasty team radioed the scene information so other KISAR members could bring the necessary gear to their location. KISAR performed a high-angle lift and the patient was packaged and transported to the trail head.
The following April Lydia participated a coordinated mountain safety training at the 4th of July hut with the US Coast Guard. KISAR members went out to the CG hangar to look over gear and discuss helicopter operations. She flew up to the hut in an H-65 and was lowered by basket to the training area. KISAR used a roll-up Sked to package a CG rescue dummy and practiced doing litter raises. After the helo operations, Blaine Smith from the Alaska Avalanche School gave KISAR a class in various aspects of mountain safety including crampon and ice ax technique as well as rigging snow anchors.
In April Lydia enjoyed a day of rock climbing in Anton Larsen Bay with the KISAR community.
In January of 2020 Lydia joined our KISAR board of directors and increased her involvement with the organization. And just in time; KISAR had a busy summer despite COVID including a July response to lost hikers on Pyramid Mountain.
She helped on the Woody Island lost kayaker call out and performed the first documented KISAR piggyback rescue.
We were extremely lucky to be able to draw on her extensive medical knowledge as a emergency medicine professional when she led response this past July on Kashevaroff Mtn.
We all miss her dearly and are grateful for the time we had with her in our search and rescue family.