Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Give the Gift of Being Found!

Giving Tuesday?

You have heard of Black Friday. And you have also heard of Cyber Monday. And there is Giving Tuesday…

Giving Tuesday is the day to give back to our community by making a donation to the non-profit charitable organization of your choice. And a great choice is BAMRU – Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit. Check us out at http://www.razoo.com/story/Bamru. Make a donation – its easy and for a great cause. The life you save could be that of a child, an elder, or another member of the community in which you live.

Thanks for your support!

And share this with your family, friends, co-workers, persons standing next to you in line, your local grocery store clerk, your dentist, your auto-mechanic, and your wise professor. You get the picture – pass it on! Someone’s life may depend on it!

Give the Gift of Someone Being Found
Give the Gift of Someone Being Found

To find out more about BAMRU, visit our web page at bamru.org

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Support BAMRU!

As you might already know, BAMRU is a volunteer, non-profit organization. We are funded by donations and member contributions. These funds go to support our operating costs, such as updating our rescue equipment.

Amazon has created a program called AmazonSmile. When you shop through AmazonSmile, you can choose to support BAMRU and we'll receive a percentage of all your purchases as a donation- and it doesn't cost you a single penny extra. Pretty awesome! You can support BAMRU just by making your usual purchases -- or doing your Christmas shopping. (Once you register, you'll want to shop from smile.amazon.com, but nothing else about the way you interact with Amazon will change.) Please consider clicking on the link below to register your account to support us.

Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit

SO Explorers' Post Academy

On Saturday 11/9, two team members from BAMRU supervised an off-trail night scenario as part of a training for the SO Explorers' Post Academy. The scenario involved packaging a patient with a broken leg and using a low angle rope system to assist with carrying the patient up a gradual incline. Three teams rotated through the station, performed a brief search to locate the (responsive) patient, and then packaged and carried out the patient. The teams all got the chance to run the low angle system. This was a great opportunity to assist another group within our local SAR community. We are grateful to the Explorers' Post for inviting us to their training and are looking forward to working with them in the future.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Woodside Search

On Nov 14th, BAMRU responded to a missing person alert in Woodside. 17 members attended the search. The subject was successfully located and recovered by litter and was in the care of paramedics within 40 minutes of discovery.

Monday, October 28, 2013

October medical skills training

BAMRU held its annual medical skills training in Huddart Park on October 26-27. Lucas Marciniak, a BAMRU technical member and registered nurse, organized a day of lectures and breakout sessions, followed by a day of awesome scenarios we called the “Medical Olympics”. Twenty-three active BAMRU members showed up, along with five guests and a handful of BAMRU's friends.

Day 1 started out with a fascinating lecture by Dr. Zina Semenovskaya, on wilderness medicine. The group discussed the unique risks associated with environmental exposure, and spent a lot of time deliberating sticky questions about acute mountain sickness (AMS): How do you recognize it in the field? When do you make a decision for search teams to descend? What are early warning signs for the life-threatening forms of AMS?
Learning wilderness medicine!
Dr. Semenovskaya Lectures on Wilderness Medicine
The team then split up into groups by certification level (EMT, WFR, WFA/First Aid), and began rotating through stations manned by knowledgeable BAMRU members. RN Abi Fitzgerald educated first responders and EMTs alike on the value of taking good baseline vital signs and an accurate medical history. Kyle Barbour walked each group through the contents of BAMRU’s jump bags - no one wants to be searching for the right piece of equipment in an emergency! Former BAMRU member and practicing anesthesiologist Dr. Victor Tubbesing mediated a discussion on patient medical scenarios and airway management, and Lucas Marciniak drilled the teams in how to properly package patients with cervical spine immobilization.

PPV is your friend
Dr. Victor Tubbesing Teaching the Airway Station

Lucas Marciniac, RN Teaches the Packaging Station
Lucas Marciniac, RN, Teaches Litter Packaging and Spinal Stabalization

At the close of the day’s training, some of the group headed home while others camped at Huddart Park (and, after contemplating a dinner of dehydrated food, made a late-night taqueria run instead).

Day 2, the Medical Olympics, began with the creation of mixed certification level teams. Friends of BAMRU as well as some generous paramedic students from Foothill College volunteered to act as patients for the Med Olympics scenarios.

Each team had a full day of patient care! The training scenarios included a hiker with a broken ankle who was having an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting; a teenager, alone in the park, experiencing food poisoning; a woman having tonic-clonic seizures following head trauma; a diabetic backpacker in DKA who'd left his insulin at home; and a lightning strike on a member of the BAMRU rescue team.

A Foothill College Student Acts as a Diabetic Patient in DKA with a Damaged Ankle and is Rescued By BAMRU Students
Evacuating a Diabetic Patient in the Medical Olympics 
In addition to each BAMRU member getting invaluable practice with patient care, patient packaging, and equipment handling, each group vastly improved in communication and teamwork over the day. The scenarios also prompted discussions on managing bystanders, interacting with minors, approaching potentially dangerous patients, and handling the incapacitation of a team member.

Overall, the BAMRU members present at the training had the chance to refresh their EMS skills, gain familiarity with BAMRU’s equipment, and experience how rescue teams might conduct patient care in the field. It’s safe to say that no matter the certification level, we all learned a ton!

BAMRU Team: Abi Rankin Fitzgerald, Alexa Fredston-Hermann, Alex Grishaver, Brian Ducay, Charles Dimmler, Chris Seffens, Christiaan Adams, Christopher Nielsen, Dominique Freckmann, Eric Mcdonnell, John Chang, John Zirinsky, Kimberley Craig, Kyle Barbour, Kyle Smith, Lindsay Chromik, Lucas Marciniak, Mike Dacre, Patti Viri, Rachel Allen, Sarah J Roth, Thom Dedecko, Tom Grossman

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Spruce Grove Search

On September 25, BAMRU of San Mateo County Sheriff's Office received word of an ongoing search for 72 year old missing hunter in the Mendocino national forest area in rugged terrain above 5,500’. Gene Penaflor had disappeared during a hunting trip the day before. He and his partner agreed to meet for lunch and the had split up to walk down two different ridges. Unfortunately, Gene never met his partner, and was reported missing later that day. Seven members of BAMRU/SMCSO responded to the call out, and met with Mendocino county search and rescue at 8:30am on Thursday the 26th. The search continued until Saturday, with 13 BAMRU/SMCSO members attending on Friday, and a total of 14 on Saturday.
The Searchers Prepare
Accessing the site was quite challenging: it required a multi-hour drive on dirt roads from Ukiah following the drive up from the bay area. Thankfully our hosts were incredibly helpful, which made the process substantially easier.

Making Maps
Once on scene BAMRU/SMCSO was honored to be able to help coordinate a significant part of the effort to locate Mr. Penaflor, including analyzing the map of the area and using information from Mr. Penaflor's hunting partner to plan the search assignments for the weekend. The terrain was very rugged but the search teams all worked together seamlessly to cover a very large area over the course of the four day search, we were very grateful for the incredible professionalism and hard work of all of the teams involved. With great sadness we were all forced to leave on Saturday night by an incoming bad weather front and a total absence of clues. We always hate leaving searches without any result, and so an early end to the search was very hard on all of the teams involved.

Thankfully, two weeks later on Saturday October 12th, a full 18 days after Gene Penaflor went missing, BAMRU/SMCSO was invited back to Mendocino to assist with a follow up search. Eight BAMRU/SMCSO members were able to attend, although none of us expected the result that followed. At 08:30am Gene Penaflor, still alive and sheltering near a creek not far from where he fell, was able to get the attention of a group of hunters passing near by. When the hunters found him, he reported that he had not been able to eat for three days and was incredibly weak. They were able to use their sweaters to make a stretcher and carry him to a nearby clearing. They also called 911, and we were able to use their GPS coordinates to locate them, and find Gene.

The members of BAMRU/SMCSO were privileged to be able to assist with the care and extrication of Mr. Penaflor. We are very grateful to the hunters who found him for their assistance in the hauling of the stretcher to the helicopter landing zone, where Mr. Penaflor could be air-lifted to Ukiah Valley Medical Center. We are also incredibly grateful to all of the other search teams involved, their professionalism and expertise was instrumental to the success of this recovery. Mr. Penaflor was treated for minor injuries and released to his family the next day.

Ready For the Rescue
It is truly amazing that Gene Penaflor was able to survive for so long alone in the wilderness. He reported that he was able to shoot squirrels and other small game, and that he cooked algae from the nearby stream to stay alive. To stay warm he insulated himself with packed leaves and grasses and made a small fire. When it rained or snowed he crawled under a large log to keep dry.

On Our Way!

Carrying Gene Penaflor to the Helicopter Landing Zone

Off to the Hospital
An important element of this story is that during the initial four day search Mr. Penaflor used his camp fire to burn wet leaves and produce smoke in an effort to signal the CHP helicopter that was flying overhead assisting with the search. He did this during two full days of the search, but the helicopter was unable to see him. Members of the public are often unaware of how incredibly difficult it is to see small objects - such as people or campfires - from a helicopter flying over an expansive and thickly forested landscape. In this case, the wind was strong enough to blow away most of the smoke, and the crew of the helicopter could see nothing.

We are incredibly pleased with the outcome of this search, and very happy that Mr. Penaflor is out of the hospital and doing well now. The members of BAMRU/SMCSO were truly privileged to be able to assist with the care and extrication of Mr. Penaflor, and we hope that other searches can all have such a happy outcome, although preferably with much less time in between the disappearance and the recovery.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

BAMRU at the Western States 100

Earlier this summer some of our team members made the annual trek to the Sierra foothills to volunteer for one of the toughest races around. Thanks to Lucas Marciniak and Ben Yaffe for sharing the experience via this write up:

On Saturday June 29th, BAMRU staffed the medical checkpoint at mile 85 of the Western States Endurance Race. This 100-mile ultra-marathon takes runners from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California on a grueling trail of steep switchbacks, swift-water river crossings, and mountain passes; this year with a record temp of 102° F.

For the 5th year running, BAMRU supported the event with technical member and emergency RN Lucas Marciniak as the medical captain for the aid station, as well as a team who brought a variety of experience levels. Regardless of medical background, teamwork is crucial. The hours are long, and as the night goes on the medical tent can gets increasingly intense. As each runner reaches mile 85 of the race, the team assess them, paying close attention to their mental status and weight compared to their starting weight (as an indication of fluid status). Along with a host of other ailments, the team provided extensive blister care and addressed dehydration, hyponatremia, hypoglycemia, muscle/skeletal injuries, and exhaustion. With the race having their own ALS protocols, we were able to provide a broad range of interventions.

This is a perfect event for BAMRU, as our medical, rescue, and communications are put to good use.Everyone on the team has experience in emergency settings and knows how to keep their cool under pressure and with limited sleep. BAMRU staffs the aid station with experienced/professional medical providers but also leverages the event to give the EMTs and WFRs on the team who don’t work in the medical field an opportunity to get an incredible amount of hands-on experience. Looking forward to 2014!

BAMRU Team: Marciniak, Lass, Yaffe, Allen, & Barbour

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spring Summary

Somehow, this spring sprang forward faster than any other.

Since March, BAMRU has participated in four search operations.  Most recently, we participated in the search for Mikaela Lynch in Clearlake which sadly, had a tragic outcome
: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_23238753/search-missing-autistic-girl-clearlake-resumes-tuesday-morning

In addition to the searches, BAMRU also completed the Mountain Rescue Association's snow and ice re-accreditation, ran two extensive trainings geared towards our newest team members and a Navigation and Tracking training.

Alex, Mike and Chris shoot bearings at the Nav training
BAMRU is pleased to welcome the following 12 new trainees to the team.  All attended at least two meetings, completed a mock search and a full weekend of SAR Basic before applying and being accepted:

Ethan guides Emily through waist deep snow
at the MRA re-cert
Christiaan Adams
Lindsay Chromik
Kimberly Craig
Michael Dacre
Thom Dedecko
Brian Ducay
Dominique Freckmann
Alexa Fredson-Hermann
Kelly Going
Ben Pitzer
John Zirinsky 

Congratulations and welcome to the team!

Now that the summer months are upon us, BAMRU is looking forward to at least 10 organized alpine trainings which will provide the team with experience traveling in mountainous terrain.  Some of the peaks on the list include Shasta, Langley, Lassen, Laurel and Bear Creek Spire.  It should be an excellent season of climbing!

Come back and visit us to see some of the photos from what are sure to be
wonderful training trips this summer.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

MRA Re-accreditation Prep.

This winter BAMRU, and many other California SAR teams, have been preparing for the upcoming California Region MRA snow and ice re-accreditation.  

"The Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) is a national volunteer organization dedicated to saving lives through rescue and mountain safety education. The California Region of the Mountain Rescue Association consists of over 20 rescue teams from throughout the state of California. Majority of the members are unpaid volunteers who are highly trained. Accredited teams must meet the high standards of the MRA and must be re-evaluated every five years in each of the three search and rescue skills: Search and Tracking, Technical Rock, and Snow and Ice. California MRA teams not only respond to search and rescue operations in the unit's area of responsibility, but will also respond to mutual aid calls anywhere in the state to assist other agencies."  -California Region MRA Website     (http://www.crmra.org)

We are very much looking forward to spending time with teams from around the state in the beautiful setting of June Lake.  Here are a few of the photos from our recent, rigorous trainings.  

Abi Assessing a patient while Adam holds C-spine.
Credit: John Mandish 
Litter handling practice
Credit: Chris Kantarjiev

Kyle as litter attendant.
Credit: Chris Kantarjiev

Ethan maneuvering over a tricky transition.
Credit: Blake Gleason

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ouray Ice Fest

Every year the Ouray Ice Fest takes place in the scenic, mining, mountain town of Ouray, CO.  Nestled in the San Juans, just getting there in winter can be an adventure, but once you arrive you are guaranteed a good time.  Outdoor enthusiasts from all over come to watch and participate in some great ice climbing at the Ouray ice park and then recover from bad cases of the screaming barfies at the Ouray Brewery.  This year, once again, a group of eager BAMRUvians attended the ice fest to work on their ice climbing skills and rub shoulders with Conrad Anker.     

If you're thinking about going in 2014, or would like to try your hand at ice climbing (or other adventures) check out San Juan Mountain Guides, a guiding company run by a classmate of mine on a NOLS India Mountaineering course in 1999!  In the Bay Area you can hook up with several guides in the Sierras.  SMI, SMC, SMG or the AAI.  The AAC also generally holds an ice climbing weekend in Coldstream Canyon every January.  Enjoy and climb safe!
BAMRU with Conrad Anker

Eszter on Ice

Chris on Ice

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013: Off to Great Start!

On Monday, January 14th, BAMRU held the first meeting of 2013.  Thanks to our recruiting officer, Rachel Farrand, we had over 30 guests in attendance!  We are all looking forward to getting to know the 2013 cohort.

Other highlights of the meeting included the first promotions of the year:

BAMRU welcomed two new trainees to the team.  Craig Taylor and Chris Nielsen.  Craig brings his extensive outdoor experience to the team, including time spent on Denali.  Chris has a background as wild-land firefighter and an EMT.

Woody installing motor retention hardware in a rocket
Woody Hoburg who has been with BAMRU for two years and with Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) for two seasons, was promoted to field member and is now one of the teams newest OL's (Operations Leader).  Woody is an aerospace engineer working on a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science. His extensive skill and knowledge set are invaluable to the team.

Chris K. climbing in Ouray during
the ice fest earlier this month

Chris Kantarjiev, BAMRU's training officer, was promoted to Technical Member which means that he has completed all of the skills in the three disciplines of search skills, technical rock, and snow and ice.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hope you all had a wonderful first week of this new year!  As we forge ahead into 2013 we'd like to take a moment to reflect on 2012.  

We made some great headway in fundraising and towards our goal of buying a new truck, but we still have a ways to go!!  You can donate here: http://www.bamru.org/donate

In 2012 we welcomed seven new trainees to the team, logged 2,305 hours in the field responding to 29 callouts, 6,435 hours on trainings, and 884 hours at meetings.  We received and responded to the 30th callout of the year on New Year's Eve.  

In total, BAMRU logged 10,370.5 volunteer hours.  That's 10,370 hours spent away from home, families, and warm beds doing a job that we love to do and 10,370 hours supporting each other through difficult searches, brainstorming sessions, long trainings and some good times thrown in for good measure.  

While every member of our team is extremely valued, every year a handful are recognized for their outstanding service.  This year BAMRU recognized the following members:

Member of the year: Chris Kantarjiev 

The annual Member of the Year award is presented to the BAMRU member who through actions, attitude, creativity, and commitment provides the greatest support and enhancement to BAMRU's ability to perform its public-service mission. This year, we highlight the member who devised and instituted a new training philosophy focused on the needs of trainee members to complete their certifications; an innovative training portfolio that creates more opportunity for senior members to enhance their skills; the "endorsement" mechanism to recognize progress towards the rank of rescue member; a reworked schedule; and inspiring a culture of safety, achievement, and fun. 

It's hard to sum up what Chris has done for our team.  His title is "Training Officer", but he's also a mentor, an organizer, and someone who has his finger on the pulse of the team and its members.  This year he was promoted to technical member, logged a total of 516 hours working for the team, and that's not including all of the hours spent being responsive to endless emails and questions from those of us looking for guidance.  The entire team is eternally grateful for his service.  

Searcher of the year: Kito Berg-Taylor

The annual Searcher of the Year award is presented to the BAMRU member who makes the greatest direct contribution to BAMRU's search and rescue operations. It is based on attendance at call-outs, participation in overnight and multi-day operations, and commitment in the field. 

In 2012 it was notable that half a dozen BAMRU member logged more that 125 hours in SAR operations. However, one individual stood out. By participating in 18 search and rescue operations, including several multi-day commitments, with a distinctive combination of energy, determination, and good cheer.

Kito is the type of searcher that seems to never tire.  Somehow he manages to get through the toughest assignments on barely any sleep and still be a pillar of strength for his teammates.  Kito has just recently deployed for boot camp and will begin training to become a field medic for the U.S. Army.  We wish Kito all the best on his new path and a safe return home.  

Recognition for Service:  

Ben Yaffe: For service as Operations Officer
Will Gilmore: For service as the BAMRU Secretary
John Mandish: For service as the Recruiting Officer
Blake Gleason: For “High hours, but more important, high initiative, and high frontline leadership in training and developing people."
Abi Fitzgerald: "For ongoing efforts to highlight BAMRU’s presence in the social media and ongoing cultivation of BAMRU camaraderie."
Rachel Farrand: "For exceptional dedication and for opening her home to the holiday party this year."

Happy 2013 everyone!

Contributors:  John Chang- Award descriptions and summary, Rachel Allen- Log of unit hours