KISAR April Training

Yes, team, we are having an April training! But in keeping with the critical importance surrounding social distancing we are going to avail ourselves of ‘teleworking’. To that end I have set up a geocaching course out at Termination Point. The purpose of this training is to practice navigation with the Gaia app. Below I will provide the latitude and longitude for 11 Navy Seal course orienteering points. For those of you who have participated in the previous small-teams training we conducted out at Termination Point, some of the locations will be familiar, but many will not. Some reside in parts of the Termination Point forest that very few people visit.

At each of the 11 locations you will find a small Tyvek sign with “KISAR” in blue permanent marker, below which there will be either a letter or number (see the example below where the # will be replaced with an alpha-numeric character). You will need to record this letter or number from each location. After locating all 11 symbols, rearrange them to form a common phrase (yes, it’s a puzzle, but this shouldn’t be too challenging). After you complete these tasks let me know directly via an email to: tscheezy AT yahoo DOT com (don’t reply to kisar emails which go to everyone). Every KISAR member who completes this training by the end of April wins a sew-on KISAR patch (yay, prizes!).


This is a pretty challenging course complete with swamps, devil’s club and salmonberry patches, dense forest and windfall. I know the area well and it took me over 3 hours and I traveled 6.6 miles setting up the course. You should assume it will take you longer, so don’t wait until the afternoon to get started. I HIGHLY recommend you record your track in Gaia because it forces your phone to update your location constantly. If you don’t record, your phone may take a long time to acquire your location again in the dense trees. If you need to bone up on your Gaia skills, this is a very comprehensive tutorial: Gaia GPS Tutorial. The main thing you will need to be able to do is create a new waypoint, and then change the latitude and longitude values to move that waypoint to the correct location. You can enter these at home before heading out. Here are the 11 locations:

1. 57.84131, -152.42726
2. 57.84168, -152.42127
3. 57.84677, -152.41010
4. 57.84824, -152.41483
5. 57.85127, -152.42423
6. 57.86077, -152.43079
7. 57.86126, -152.43293
8. 57.86121, -152.42729
9. 57.86089, -152.42525
10. 57.85168, -152.42930
11. 57.84811, -152.42653

Please note that the free version of Gaia does not offer the use of cached maps for offline use, and part of this course does not have cell coverage. Keep that in mind before you head out. Gaia is an excellent app and essential for the work we do. Consider getting the basic paid version ($17 per year or $60 for 5 years at Other good quality GPS apps are available for free or low cost like ViewRanger.

Treat this like a real training and bring a well-provisioned pack with communication resources (at least half the course has no cell coverage), cell phone battery backup, food & water, clothing, first aid & safety gear, and maybe even a light shelter and stove. The Coastal Trail is in good shape with very little snow or ice, but the inland trails are very icy. Microspikes (or similar) are mandatory and I highly recommend trekking poles. The forest is littered with deer carcasses and those deer which are still alive are very weak, so keep that in mind if you bring your pet. I have seen no bear sign but take the normal precautions. For safety reasons I recommend doing this in pairs so if there is someone you feel safe going with (you have been in quarantine with them) proceed as normal. If you go with another person that you have not been in quarantine with, please drive out in separate cars and travel together but stay appropriately physically distanced during the day. If someone really wants to do this training but can’t find a partner, send me an email and I would be happy to tag along. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me (tscheezy AT yahoo DOT com).

In order to comply with the training safety plan I submitted to the State Troopers, all members (or one representative from each group) participating in this activity need to send an email to me, Nick, and Steve before you deploy to Termination Point and a second one after you return to town. The first email announcing your intention to do the course can be anytime prior to heading out and should state your estimated time out conducting the training, but the followup email when you return to town should be sent asap so that we know you are back safely. I appreciate everyone following these simple sign-in / sign-out measures.

Have fun and be safe!

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KISAR During Coronavirus

While KISAR’s normal meeting and training schedules have been suspended during the current coronavirus crisis, we can still stay abreast of the most current and relevant information facing our community and mission. There is plenty of news out there and much of it is highly stress inducing.  But real, objective knowledge can be empowering and a means to ground yourself in the midst of what can otherwise feel like information chaos.

To this end I would recommend the following lecture on the novel coronavirus and the resulting pathology, called COVID-19. The epidemiology (the first third of the video) and virology/pathology (second third) are very instructive for those of us who have enjoyed and benefited from Deb Ajango’s wilderness first aid classes and her explainers at the whiteboard. The final third (laboratory/clinical analysis) is rich with medical jargon and somewhat outside the normal scope of most of our training, but nonetheless very interesting.

Youtube: Coronavirus: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, Diagnostics

Closer to home, I would also like to recommend watching Dr Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, update Alaskans on the statewide COVID-19 situation as part of Governor Dunleavy’s weekday press conferences. Her contributions are incredibly smart, accessible, direct, information rich, utterly topical, plainly and succinctly delivered, and filled with humility and empathy.

State of Alaska Vimeo (click “watch again”): daily COVID-19 Press Briefing

You have probably heard this a thousand times, but finally, please redouble your efforts to protect yourself, your immediate social network, and the greater community. Don’t grow complacent thinking, “there are no reported cases in Kodiak and relatively few across the state.” No community touched by this virus ever lamented having prepared too much. To the contrary, they all regretted not having done more. Kindness and generosity (and social distancing) are a sign of strength. So stay strong, Kodiak! And give a gentle but firm reminder to those not showing social responsibility: it could literally save a life. But please, take care of yourself too. We are incredibly blessed with wild open spaces right outside our doors where we can get fresh air and exercise- so important to mental health and also immune function- and use these resources with no danger to our community. And please give thanks to the selfless and dedicated healthcare professionals standing between us and catastrophe. Help them to help us: venerate from a safe distance.
Be well, and stay well.
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KISAR meeting March 19 canceled

As a volunteer public service organization dedicated to protecting the safety, health, and welfare of our island community, it is doubly incumbent on us to exercise the utmost caution and best practices in these (and all) circumstances. The Kodiak Island Borough’s Coronavirus mitigation plan has closed some nonessential public buildings, and Chief Rue has closed the Bayside Fire Hall’s training space until further notice. With this in mind, KISAR is suspending general membership meetings and will evaluate outdoor training opportunities on a case by case basis.
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KISAR meeting February 20

KISAR will hold its general membership meeting Thursday February 20 at 7 PM at Bayside Fire Hall.

Following the general membership meeting (~7:30 PM) Chris Bruno will present a slideshow and lecture on avalanche awareness including snowpack, weather, terrain, and human factors.



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KISAR and USCG Avalanche Training

KISAR has been proud to work with the USCG Air Station Kodiak for years to extend their reach and effectiveness in non-maritime SAR cases. As part of an ongoing training coordination effort, KISAR is offering avalanche awareness, snowpack assessment, and avalanche rescue training to pilots and rescue swimmers. The first phase was a 3-hour seminar at Hangar 3 to demonstrate the theory and use of avalanche transceivers in an avalanche rescue scenario.


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January Avalanche Training

KISAR will hold a general membership training on Saturday January 18 covering avalanche transceiver use and avalanche rescue. We will meet at 9:30 AM at Bayside Fire Hall to go over gear and possible training scenarios. The training itself will then likely happen at the golf course in the Buskin Valley. Other topics to be covered are probing and effective shoveling techniques. Required equipment will be a transceiver, probe, and shovel, plus whatever clothing is needed for the weather on Saturday.

Avy Handout 1Avy Handout 2

Flagging the course following flux lines in towards a transceiver:

KISARgolf - 1

Explaining and demonstrating a single-rescuer, single-burial scenario:

KISARgolf - 3

IMG_6254 2


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KISAR meeting January 16

KISAR will hold its general membership meeting Thursday January 16 at 7 PM at Bayside Fire Hall.

Following the general membership meeting (7:30 PM) 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, Jan 18.



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December Rope Training

KISAR will conduct a general membership rope training on Saturday, December 7. We will meet at Bayside Fire Hall at 9 am for some classroom activities and then, weather permitting, will do some field exercises outside around noon. If the weather does not allow for productive outdoor work we may practice rigging systems in the engine bays instead. A full agenda including recommended gear is available as a pdf: Technical Rope Rescue Training Agenda.

HiLine - 11

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No November meeting

KISAR will not be holding a membership meeting for the month of November. Everyone have a great Thanksgiving!

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KISAR Training November 16

KISAR will hold a training on Saturday, November 16. We will meet at Bayside Fire Hall at 9 AM for a briefing before proceeding to the end of Monashka Bay Road at White Sands Beach for an orienteering and small-team search training at Termination Point.

KISAR TP 2019 - 4


KISAR TP 2019 - 1

KISAR TP 2019 - 2

KISAR TP 2019 - 3

Term Pt Seals Course Print

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