Hike Prepared, Carry the 10 Essentials

In a new study based on surveys of hikers in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, Brown University researchers find that many people hit the trails without essential equipment, often because they don’t think it’s needed for short hikes. Young, inexperienced hikers were most likely to lack essential gear.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Hikers in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest often hit the trail less prepared than they should be, according to a study that gauged readiness by how many of 10 essential items the hikers brought along.

Young and inexperienced hikers were most likely to lack multiple items recommended by the State of New Hampshire’s HikeSafe program, according to a paper in press at the journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine. Hikers were also less likely to prepare fully if they were planning a short hike, even though those can quickly become dangerous.

HikeSafe’s list of 10 essential items, which are needed on any hike of any duration, are a map, a compass, extra clothes, rain gear, a fire starter, a flashlight, extra food and water, a knife, a first aid kit, and a whistle.

Read the rest of the article, here



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2013 SAR Academy


Do you love hiking and recreating in the backcountry of Kodiak Island? Do you have a desire to come to the aid of local community members in distress?

During the 2012 Christmas search KISAR had over one hundred volunteers, but many of them, while sincere in their desire to help, were untrained and underequipped for the task.

This October KISAR will be hosting a SARTECH II course. This course will give you the basic information needed to function in a non-technical backcountry search. Those who successfully complete this training will receive national certification and immediately qualify for Operational status and respond to KISAR searches.

The current plan for this 40 hour course is; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday evenings and all day Saturday and Sunday October 14 – 20.

Here’s the material that will be covered:

SARTECH II Examination

The SARTECH II level of certification is the intermediate level for SAR personnel. This level is recommended for any person who functions on SAR missions as field searchers

There are no prerequisites required for a person to challenge the SARTECH II examination.  Certification history does indicate persons who have had formal SAR training and experience on SAR missions successfully pass the examinations more frequently than others do.

The SARTECH II examination consists of a written exam and a practical exam.  The written exam includes one hundred and forty-five (145) questions covering the candidate’s knowledge of search and rescue.  A passing grade is 70 % or above.  Successfully passing the SARTECH II written test assures the candidate to be certified at the SARTECH III level whether the practical exam is passed or not.

Upon passing the written exam, the candidate is then required to successfully complete a six station practical exam

The written exam includes questions from the following topics:

  • NIMS Incident Command System
  • Basic Survival
  • SAR Clothing
  • Improvising
  • Environmental Hazards and First Aid
  • SAR Ready Pack
  • Personal Equipment
  • Travel Skills
  • Land Navigation & Orienteering
  • SAR Resources
  • Search Philosophy
  • Search Tactics
  • Handling Evidence
  • Clue Consciousness
  • Search Operations
  • Tracking
  • Ropes & Rescue Equipment
  • Legal Aspects for the Searcher

  The candidate’s performance of SAR skills is evaluated at six practical exam stations involving:

  • Station #1: Land Navigation: Use of topographic maps and compass.  Candidates complete a course over terrain commonly encountered in the operations area in a specified time frame, not to exceed 600 meters.
  • Station #2: Tracking: Candidates identify and mark a footprint track left by the evaluator and follow the track to its end.
  • Station #3: 24-hour Pack: Candidates demonstrate the ability to possess and pack the required SAR equipment and supplies efficiently.
  • Station #4: Rope Skills: Candidates demonstrate the ability to tie four basic knots and a harness with supplied rope and webbing.
  • Station #5: Route Search: This station entails locating and labeling clues in a given area demonstrating the ability to detect 50% of the clues using a route search tactic.
  • Station #6: Area Search: This station entails locating and labeling clues in a given area demonstrating the ability to detect 50% of the clues using an area search tactic.

If you have wanted to become involved in the local SAR community, and didn’t know how, now is the perfect time. For more information you can email a KISAR member at kisar1986@gmail.com.

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KISAR Partners With Educators

This month two KISAR members provided personal survival training to 5th graders from a local elementary school.

A KISAR member discusses equipment that can make wilderness survival easier.

A KISAR member discusses equipment that can make wilderness survival easier.

Concepts covered included; survival mindset, equipment, shelter and fire building. The students were diligent listeners and much fun was had by the students and teachers alike. The material was a combination of NASAR’s “Hug a Tree” program and personal experience.

A KISAR member inspects a emergency shelter constructed by local 5th graders.

A KISAR member inspects an emergency shelter constructed by local 5th graders.

This activity is a form of preventative search and rescue (PSAR) and directly relates to our mission to, ” provide informational and educational programs and demonstrations to institutions, agencies and community organizations.”

Any other local organizations are encouraged to contact KISAR to see how we can help your members be more safe while recreating in the backcountry.

KISAR member directs school children in the use of orange smoke flares, as the USCG Spar passes nearby.

KISAR member directs school children in the use of orange smoke flares, as the USCG cutter Spar passes nearby.

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KISAR Completes SAR Operation, Subject Hoisted From Cliff, Uninjured.

KISAR members disembark from Helo during recent search.

KISAR members disembark from Helo during recent search.

Jay Barrett/KMXT
A Kodiak Fish and Game employee went missing on a hike near Saltery Cove Monday, prompting a multi-agency search by the Alaska State Troopers, Kodiak Island Search and Rescue and a Coast Guard helicopter.
According to a trooper report, Matthew Dias, age 35 reportedly left a Fish and Game camp in Ugak Bay for a hike around 1 p.m. By 11 that night, Troopers received a call saying the man failed to return to camp.
The Coast Guard launched a helicopter with four KISAR volunteers aboard Tuesday morning at 6:30, and returned to Kodiak after dropping them off.
Dias was spotted atop a bluff around 10 a.m. Tuesday by searchers in a Fish and Game vessel, which recalled the helicopter. Dias was hoisted aboard and returned to Kodiak without injury.

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APRN: 3 Killed in Trooper Helicopter Crash Near Larson Lake

helo1APRN – An Alaska State Trooper helicopter rescue ended in tragedy on Saturday night when the rescue helicopter crashed near Larson Lake, killing all three people on board. At approximately 10:00 pm on Saturday, March 30, the Alaska State Troopers dispatched their AStar helicopter, Helo 1, to assist a stranded snowmachiner in the Larson Lake area. According to the trooper dispatch, the snowmachiner was picked up and the helicopter took off to rendezvous with medics at the Sunshine Tesoro. Helo 1 never arrived, however, and a search and rescue operation began for the overdue helicopter. On the morning of March 31st, a Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) aircraft spotted the crashed helicopter near the south end of Larson Lake. RCC personnel searched for survivors, but none were found. The pilot, one Alaska State Trooper who was assisting in the rescue, and the snowmachiner are known to have been on board. The Department of Pubic Safety had not released the names of the crash victims as of the evening of March 31. Megan Peters, Public Information Officer for the Department of Public Safety, was not able to specify whether the snowmachiner was a Talkeetna resident or whether the trooper on board was from the Talkeetna post. Peters also said there was no definitive cause identified as of Sunday evening, and that the investigation is ongoing. She called the incident an “extremely devastating blow,” to the search and rescue operations of the State Troopers, and stated that it will have an impact on residents all over the state. Peters said that while the helicopter can be replaced, the lives on board, and the experience and dedication they represented, are gone. The Troopers do still have helicopter rescue capability in the form of two Robinson 44 helicopters, but they are not capable of the lift capacity of the larger AStar that was lost. More information will be forthcoming as the Department of Public Safety releases it.

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Ice Rescue

In this video you can see how one person falling through the ice, resulted in 12 rescuers also being exposed to the freezing waters. Having the training and tools necessary to conduct a rescue can prevent what the video shows. With the warm temperatures rotten ice is a real threat.

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Christmas Search Concludes

Maine hiker’s body found on Alaska mountain

By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

The Maine man who had been missing since Saturday afternoon after a planned mountain climb was found dead on Mount Barometer in Kodiak, Alaska, on Christmas Day.

Members of Kodiak Island Search and Rescue and the Alaska State Troopers confirmed Wednesday that the body of 20-year-old Derek W. Russell of Hollis Center was found by search team members around 2 p.m. Tuesday local time. The discovery ended a two-day effort involving as many as 100 volunteers, helicopters, an airplane, and search-dog teams.

“He was last seen on Saturday at 2 p.m., and we were notified Sunday evening around 6 p.m. that he was missing,” said Nick Szabo, incident commander for Kodiak Island Search and Rescue, the agency that coordinated the search. “I got the first call from one of the dog teams at 2:34 p.m. Christmas Day. That’s when we confirmed he’d been located.”

Szabo, who has been part of the search and rescue agency for 25 years, said the mountain, which is listed as having an elevation of just under 2,500 feet, is a treacherous climb, especially during winter months.

“This mountain is very dangerous in the wintertime,” said Szabo. “Number one, he shouldn’t have gone up by himself; number two, he probably wasn’t as well-equipped as he should have been; and number three, he shouldn’t have been climbing it in the winter.”

Szabo said Barometer is ranked as a No. 6 climbing grade — the highest in terms of difficulty — even in the summertime.

“In wintertime, the summit is almost glare ice,” Szabo said. “The only trail going to the top of the mountain is on a ridge and the ridge is about six feet wide, which drops sharply off on both sides. And if it’s icy, you can easily slip and fall off.”

Szabo was unsure what Russell’s level of hiking and climbing experience was, but noted the crew member of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Munro, based in Kodiak, had borrowed a crew member’s ice ax, which led Szabo to believe that Russell may not have had all the equipment a veteran climber would carry.

Szabo said Russell’s body was found about 1,200 feet up the mountain shortly after a search team noticed skid marks and followed them to the ice ax. Russell’s body was found shortly afterward.

“He was observed on the summit of the mountain Saturday by one of our members who’d been hiking on the lower level,” Szabo said. “Yesterday, two of our people got dropped off on the summit by helicopter and found the skid marks. Apparently he made it up to the top, and then on the way down he slipped and slid about 1,000 feet.”

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said an autopsy will be performed, but was delayed as bad weather Wednesday postponed transport of Russell’s body by aircraft to the state medical examiner’s office.

Ipsen said the Coast Guard, Alaska state troopers, and Kodiak Search and Rescue coordinated and assisted in the search, which was hampered by inclement weather.

“On the first day, on Sunday, the helicopter couldn’t fly because of the weather,” Ipsen said. “And the weather had been pretty cold, down in the teens with a lot of wind and snow.”

Szabo said four searchers worked a 3½-hour stretch that ended at 3:30 a.m. Monday before turning back because of darkness and weather conditions.

Searches and rescues aren’t uncommon for Szabo’s organization, but he said they are fairly unusual for Barometer.

“I can’t remember the last time we were called out for Barometer,” he said. “It’s not something that happens every week, month or even year, but it has taken lives before.”

Ipsen and Szabo said it was a frustrating end to an inspiring search effort.

“We had a lot of people who volunteered to search on Christmas Day away from their families,” Ipsen said. “The community support was just phenomenal. Our hearts go out to the family, especially at Christmastime.”

The view of Barometer, Monday evening.

The view of Barometer, Monday evening.

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Online Helicopter Training, from MRA

The Mountain Rescue Association, dedicated to saving lives through rescue and mountain safety education.

The Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) provides a free online Helicopter Rescue Training. It would behoove all members to use this resource, as most of our operations are done in conjunction with the US Coast Guard air wing.

Registration is free, and you can login a their website.


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September General Meeting

The next KISAR meeting will be September 13, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will feature Backcountry Access Spokesman Bruce Edgerly talking and giving a demonstration on new developments in avalanche safety equipment. BCA developed the first digital avalanche transceiver and is a leader in the industry.

This meeting and training is open to members and the public alike.

For more information, please contact Steve Wielebski at 486-6780 or Nick Szabo at 486-3853.

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April General Meeting

Greetings All,

Kodiak Island Search and Rescue (KISAR) will hold a general meeting at 7:00 PM Thursday, April 19th, at the Bayside Training Center.

This month’s training will be avalanche awareness. There may also be a field training session on Saturday.

The deadline for the next edition of our calendar is approaching soon. We need new pictures. If anyone has pictures to submit for the calendar, please bring them on Thursday.

2012 dues of $25 are now payable, so please bring cash or your check book if you have not paid already.

For more information, please contact Steve Wielebski at 486-6780 or Nick Szabo at 486-3853.

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