SARstories News is our blog for all things Search & Rescue: interesting mission reports and articles, featured SAR teams and new items on the website, upcoming conferences, gear reviews, and anything else that piques our interest and we hope will pique yours.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Break From SAR In The Boundary Waters

Just a brief shout out as I leave for vacation in Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for a couple of weeks, to invite anyone who would like to write a SAR-related guest post to let me know at

Or, if you have an article or interesting mission report already online, send me a link and an image perhaps, and I can post a snippet here and then send readers to your site for more.

And I'll have more SAR stuff to write about myself when I return from paddling around the land of a thousand lakes.

While I'm there, I'll be reading a SAR-related novel, for a change, instead of the usual true rescue and survival stories. The book is called Last Chance Rescue: A Story Of Rescue And Romance In The Rocky Mountains by former helicopter pilot and Army Reserve medic, Tracey Cramer-Kelly. You can find out more about Tracey and the book in an article I wrote on Squidoo. (Yes, I'm just all over the place.)

So, for fifteen days it'll be lakes and loons for me instead of Search & Rescue and this computer. Back to both in mid-August.

Until then, take care....

Deb's Search & Rescue Stories

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An End To The Story

Just a brief post to let you know that the body of missing hiker, 20 year-old Bryce Gillies, was located this morning in the Bonita Creek drainage on the north side of Grand Canyon. He was found at the top of a 100-foot pour-off after personal items, including a backpack, had been discovered nearby.

Here's the breaking news article from the Arizona Daily Sun: Body of Missing Backpacker Found.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Update: Search Continues For Missing Grand Canyon Hiker

This is Friday, July 24th at 4pm. As of this time, the search continues for what is now believed to be a single hiker rather than a group of three or four. The latest Grand Canyon National Park Press release was posted yesterday:

"Grand Canyon National Park search and rescue personnel are intensifying their search efforts as they re-asses who they are looking for.

On the evening of Tuesday, July 21, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a report that at least one, and possibly as many as three young men were overdue from a backpacking trip to the Deer Creek/Thunder River area of Grand Canyon National Park. On Wednesday, Park Rangers found the car of Bryce Gillies, a student at Northern Arizona University (NAU), parked at the Bill Hall Trailhead which is located about half way between Tuweep and the developed area on the North Rim of the park." Read more....

The reason I know that the search is still ongoing is that I'm listening to radio traffic at the Canyon on Another helicopter just took off for the Thunder River area with an hour's worth of fuel. Ground teams continue to search as well.

This is who they're looking for:


Age: 20
Height: 5’ 3”
Weight: 130
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue

Anyone who believes they have seen Mr. Gillies since Saturday, July 18, is encouraged to contact the National Park Service at 928-638-7805.

Saturday, July 25, 6:50am. Here's the latest information from the Arizona Daily Sun. As the report confirms, I could tell by listening to the radio scanner yesterday that searchers had located some items.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Breaking News: Hikers Missing in Grand Canyon

This news release was published by Grand Canyon National Park on Wednesday, July 22nd:

Contact: Shannan Marcak, 928-638-7958

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – At approximately 7:20 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a report that at least one young man, and possibly as many as three, were overdue from a backpacking trip at Grand Canyon National Park.

The young men are reported to have left on a trip to the Deer Creek/Thunder River area on Saturday after reading about the trip in a magazine. According to the reporting party, the father of one of the young men, his son had stated that he would be back on Monday, but did not return. Further investigation revealed that there were as many as four young men in the hiking party. All are in their early 20s, and all are believed to be students at Northern Arizona University. It was also determined that this group did not have a backcountry permit. Read more....

Monday, July 13, 2009

SAR: A Great Education For Volunteers

I don't think I learned this much in college. At least, not as many truly useful skills as I've acquired or improved upon since joining a Search & Rescue team just under two years ago. And most of that education has been either free or at very low cost.

My SAR trainings have included subjects and skills like:

Map & Compass
Alternative Navigation
Basic ATV and UTV
Tracking--both human and vehicle tracks
Truck and trailer training
Patient Packaging
Line Search and Probability of Detection
Snowmobile driving
Ascending ropes
Rigging anchors, raising and lowering systems
The Incident Command System
Helicopter safety

Team members also have access to a class on Wilderness First Aid at a reduced cost, a variety of advanced technical rescue skills, snow and ice skills, SnowCat operation, monthly mini-trainings on topics such as Alzheimers and Dimensia, Wildland Fire, and differentiating between human and animal bones. We also have opportunities to participate in joint trainings with other organizations, such as local fire departments and the Forest Service for example.

And then there are the state and national SAR conferences, offering a variety of workshops and field classes. For those of you in Arizona, our state SAR conference in Heber will be held September 18 - 20th at the Salvation Army’s Camp Ponderosa Ranch. Have you registered yet? If not, the information is on the Tonto Rim Search & Rescue Squad's website. And here's the most up-to-date class schedule.

For a list of upcoming NASAR courses, see the Events Calendar on their website.

Interested in technical rescue? You might want to attend the International Tech Rescue Symposium to be held this year from November 5th thru 8th in Pueblo, Colorado. Registration information can be found on the ITRS website at and in the downloadable ITRS brochure.

Know of another upcoming SAR conference for this year or next? Let us know in the comments section.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Search & Rescue And Social Media

If you're involved with Search & Rescue and are anything like me, you yack your spouse's (or significant other's or co-workers' or friends') ears off about SAR--SAR missions, SAR trainings, SAR news, SAR gear, SAR skills .... even maybe a little SAR gossip from time to time. (Not that I do that, of course. And, of course, there are often things we can't talk about regarding missions.) But it's nice to be able to talk SAR with other SAR folks, too, because they may actually be interested for more than a few minutes.

And there are some good opportunities to do so online, on social sites, forums and e-mail discussion lists. Here are some of those I've found:


There are numerous ways and reasons one can use Twitter, including communicating with people from around the world who have the same interests. I often "tweet" about Search & Rescue and follow others who do also. And we tend to interact directly quite often. I've started putting together a directory of SAR volunteers and professionals on Twitter at Search & Rescue On Twitter: Follow These Good Folks.

There's also a Twitter "Twibe" at Here, you can view only those posts that include the words "Search and Rescue" or "SAR."


There are Search & Rescue Facebook groups as well. I belong to S.A.R. Search and Rescue

There's also:
California Search and Rescue
Search and Rescue (global)
Ground Search and Rescue
Canadian Search and Rescue

To name just a handful of many. If you are a Facebook member or decide to join, simply type "Search & Rescue" into the search box, and you'll find a long list of related groups (and a few that aren't). Some SAR groups are stagnant or have few members, but others are quite active. A number of them are closed groups, meaning you have to click on the "Request to Join" link and wait for moderator approval.


Rescue Training and Resource Guide Forums: Online discussion forum covering many aspects of Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue Forums at Expedition Portal: Looks like an active forum on my SAR topics

E-mail Discussion Lists

Search & Rescue Discussion List (SAR-L): Mailing list topics can include techniques, training, management, tips, gear, announcements and much more. To subscribe, email with "subscribe" in the subject line. Activity averages 120 messages per month.

SAR-Dogs Discussion List: This list was formed to facilitate communication between K9 SAR handlers and persons interested in K9 SAR.

CSAR List: A Yahoo! Group, for discussion of all aspects of the use of computers and computer-related technology to the execution and management of Search and Rescue operations. This can include mapping programs, Geographical Information System (GIS), Global Positioning System (GPS), Incident Command System (ICS) and other SAR-related applications. Average 10 messages per month.

Swiftwater/Flood Rescue Information and News: A Yahoo! Group for rescue personnel and others to exchange information about flood disaster preparedness, swiftwater/flood rescue training, and public safety education. 100-500 emails per month.


There's also a Search & Rescue group on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a network of professionals (volunteers too!) from around the globe.

If you know of any other active Search and Rescue-related forums or discussion groups, please let us know in the comments section.