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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Monday, September 28, 2009

What's New On

I thought I'd highlight some of the new content that's been added to in the past couple of months.

First, thanks to Steve Hilts, a member of the Urban Search & Rescue California Task Force 3, for submitting his journal from his 2005 trip to New Orleans, where he and his K-9, Daisy, assisted with Search & Rescue efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Steve and Daisy's story is now posted on our website, since Steve doesn't have one of his own.

We also have another new featured story link to Crisis on Half Dome, brought to our attention by the Friends of YOSAR (Yosemite Search & Rescue), about a near-fatal fall and the risky rescue that followed. (Photo above-left courtesy of Friends of YOSAR)

And in our own search for new SAR stories, we came across Expecting Surprises: The Hasty Team Strikes Again by California's Santa Clara County Hasty Team, whose technical training outing in Tenaya Canyon turns into a real rescue when another hiker becomes stuck, immobile and scared on a wet slab.

Under the SAR Articles category, we've added a new find, a short article called Humans Walk in Circles But We Think We're Going Straight, about a study done by researches at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany.

And there's also a new non-team SAR site page, where we're compiling a list of links, including a new website called SAR Responder, developed by Kim Ringeisen. Kim is a member of Central North Carolina Search & Rescue, and is his new social network, connecting Search & Rescue volunteers and professionals. You can also find out about upcoming events, read recent SAR news, and post your own SAR articles.

As always, if you come across any good firsthand SAR stories, articles, team websites that are not currently in our directories, or non-team SAR sites we should add to our list, please email us at and let us know.

Monday, September 21, 2009

SAR City in Barstow, California

Now that I've returned from the Arizona state Search & Rescue conference, I'm signing up for another, this one in California. The three-day event is called SARCity, now celebrating it's 37th year this October 9th, 10th and 11th, 2009.

SARCity is put on by the Barstow Desert Rescue Squad, a volunteer team involved in all types of SAR including mine rescue, in conjunction with the San Bernardino County Sheriff, OES, Barstow College and more than 100 volunteer instructors. Over fifty classes are being offered, some lasting an hour and others the entire weekend. There will be lots of new classes this year, while still offering the basics for those just getting into search and rescue.

Included in the schedule are several "track" classes, which last all or most of the weekend and are limited to a certain number of students. Topics include Man Tracking, HAZ MAT, ICS 400, and HAM radio.

The 2009 "Mix & Match" classes include Winter Survival, Cave SAR, Fostering Good Judgment in your SAR Team, Scene Size up in the Wilderness Setting, Considerations for Rope Rescue and more.

Fees for the conference are $85 if postmarked by September 24th, then $95 after that. If 5 or more members of a team will be attending, the discounted rate is $70. Registration includes either a selected track class or any of the mix and match, general session classes, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday. There is camping, showers, and RV/camper sites available.

You can find a registration form at For additional information, email

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Search For David Gimelfarb

David Alexander Gimelfarb, a 28-year-old doctoral student in psychology in Chicago, was last seen on Tuesday, August 11th at 10am in the Rincon de Vieja National Park outside of Liberia in Costa Rica. On Tuesday night after closing hours, his car was found in the parking lot, with no evidence that he has returned since.

David's parents have been in Costa Rica searching for their son with the local Red Cross since Wednesday, August 12th. On August 18th, the U.S. Government and the U.S. Costa Rican Embassy joined in the search, and on August 19th, ResQglobal, an "independent, neutral organization providing an immediate international rescue service for victims of disaster worldwide," arrived to assist.

Since then, a Facebook group has been created in order to pool information on David's disappearance and the ongoing search, including links to news stories (ie. "Chicago Grad Student Missing in Costa Rica" from August 16, 2009) and a list of all visitors who signed in at the Park register on August 11th. This social networking group also aims to dispel some of the misinformation that's been circulating in the media.

As of the latest update on September 9th, a team was able to get to a lagoon at the bottom of a crater, where they found some red foam rather than what was thought to be a body floating face-down when it was first spotted by police.

The Facebook group can be found at: This is an open group anyone can join.

Anyone with information pertaining to this search should send an email to

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SAR Tech I, II and III

Now that I've earned my Rock Rescue Tech patch, I'm thinking about what other "levels" of search and rescue I might try to accomplish. I've heard people mention SAR Tech I, II and III, so I decided to get more details. And here's what I've found out:

These are tests administered by the National Association for Search & Rescue, with SAR Tech I being the highest level of the three. And it is not necessary to take the SAR Tech III test (written only) to go for SAR Tech II (written and practical tests).

A SAR Tech II exam can be scheduled by anyone who wants to sponsor or host one. I see on the schedule for the upcoming Arizona SAR Conference in Heber (9/18 - 20) that the SAR Tech II test may be taken for a fee of $55.

The SAR Tech II written test consists of 160 multiple choice questions, with a passing grade being no less than 70%. Topics covered in the exam include:

* 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 practical test for SAR Tech II is made up of six stations in the categories of land navigation, tracking, the 24-Hour Pack, rope skills, route search and area search. Applicants must demonstrate these skills to an approved evaluator.

An explanation of each of these stations and all the requirements for SAR Tech II and III can be found at,_II_02,_2003.pdf.

SAR Tech I is the advanced "Crew Leader/Evaluator" level, which is recommended only for those who may function as crew leaders during missions. A list of testing topics, both written and practical, can be found at

I think SAR Tech II certification is something I want to do, which means I'll need the March, 2005 edition of the textbook, Fundamentals of Search and Rescue. Apparently, earlier editions of the book will not be sufficient to prepare for the exam.
You can see a list of all NASAR Course offerings and examinations on their website at