Local Attends Oregon Search, Rescue Meet

Courtesy photo Alamedan Randy Lantz (center) poses with part of the Iceland Search and Rescue team in their red jackets at the recent SARCON.

 

Most people spend their Christmas inside sharing wonderful stories by a warm fire, with friends and family. John Theoni of the Oregon Humane Society Technical Animal Rescue (OHSTAR) spent his holiday evening in 2014 rappelling down a shear dark cliff to save a Labrador that had fallen 150 feet to a narrow ledge when she was spooked and ran snapping her harness and falling to the ledge below. 

Search-and-rescue situations are overwhelming and frightening for everyone, especially animals like the family dog. Approaching and placing an extraction harness on a injured or frightened dog to lift it by helicopter or high angle rope rescue is something that is done in the dark, in the rain and mud, under the worst possible conditions and disaster situations. 

OHSTAR has responded to numerous disasters and searches throughout the United States including Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy and the Joplin Tornado. The specialized OHSTAR all-volunteer team led by Theoni taught me these new skills with hands-on exercises in several classes over the three-day Search and Rescue Conference (SARCON). The conference is sponsored by the Clackamas County Oregon Sheriffs office and held in late September each year. The Oregon Animal Rescue team made it clear that one of the most dangerous things a dog owner can do in the city or in the countryside is to walk with their dog off leash, many dogs can get frightened resulting in injury or loss.

Another highlight of SARCON was meeting with a team from Iceland Search and Rescue’s ICE-SAR’s. The population of Iceland is a little over 300,000 but they have some 1.7 million visitors a year that love to visit the far reaches and hostile environments of the island and often find themselves in harms way. ICE-SAR is an all volunteer group with over 10,000 volunteers in 100 teams that respond to both national and international  disasters throughout the world.

Two of their team leaders and our instructors are Haraldur Haraldsson and Halldor Halldorsson and were part of a response group in 2010 that responded to the devastating Haitian earthquake and were on the ground in Haiti less than 24 hours after the 7.0 magnitude quake hit. The quake was followed by 52 aftershocks in the 4.5 magnitude or higher range. More than 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings were destroyed and over 100,000 lives lost. The 34 members of the ICE-SAR team the Highlands that responded to Haiti were on the ground and operational and accompanied by 8 armed NATO soldiers for protection from another major disaster.

Tourniquet use was taboo when I learned first aid years ago, they are now mainstream and essential during tragedies like the Boston marathon bombing. The rapid use of tourniquets carried by police, firefighters and military made a critical difference in the outcome and survivability of those near the blast.

We learned proper use of tourniquets, chest seals, airways and other emergency medical equipment from Sergeant John Krummenacker of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Medical Team John is a combat veteran and a specialist with treating uncontrolled and extreme bleeding, chest trauma and advanced medical techniques.

The use of tourniquets is so vastly accepted that the online Red Cross store sells the combat tourniquets we carry in our emergency kits. John Krummenacker is a superb instructor and made all of his courses interesting,  entertaining and on target for the audience of search and rescue personnel, his latest information will be shared in Cool Safety’s Wilderness First Aid courses over the coming year.

I want to thank my for the search and rescue conference, the Mountain Wave Search and Rescue team. Mountain Wave has 200 volunteers, seven mobile communications vehicles, K9 tracking, air scent and cadaver dogs they use for searches.

Along with the K9s and foot searchers are All Terrain Vehicle operators and a cadre of personnel behind the scenes that support operations. I was invited by Ron Miller to attend this years conference and toured their primary communications vehicle that FEMA recently visited and plan to replicate because of it’s value to complex communications during searches. FEMA’s estimated that it would cost 1.4 million dollars just to purchase the materials that go into the vehicle, and all of the cost for the Mountain Wave Command vehicle was from volunteers and contributions to the group.

Mountain Wave is an active team and the morning I left Ron Miller was up at 5 a.m. responding to run communications from the Mountain Wave primary command vehicle for their 157th search this year.  

 

 

Randy Lantz John Theoni of OHSTAR demonstrates how to rig a dog for rescue extraction.

 

Editor’s note: Randy Lantz is truly a remarkable Alamedan. He is the proprietor of Cool Safety and has credentials and affiliations including: Emergency Care and Safety Institute, HeartSine AED Distributors, search-and-rescue instructor; Special Operations Medical Association; National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians; law enforcement and civilian pistol, shotgun, rifle and tactical instructor; Master Firearms Instructor — International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors; Glock Certified Armorer; Department of Justice Instructor and more.