Search and Rescue vs. hikers
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  1. #1
    us
    Jan 2010
    92
    44 times

    Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    Everyone appreciates the value of the various Search and Rescue units. They are highly trained and volunteer their time and talent to rescue injured and stranded hikers as well as searching for lost persons. No one looks down on these brave and dedicated SAR members.

    That being said, the Search and Rescue units are not always the only, or even the best resource to search for lost persons. I specify lost persons and not persons who have been injured and need to be rescued from a precarious position. Injured persons in need of rescue are always better off in the hands of Search and Rescue units. That distinction needs to be understood by everyone.

    Lost persons are an entirely different matter. Search and Rescue units have the best equipment to search for lost persons. The use of helicopters, heat seeking devices, dogs and other high tech aids is essential to quickly finding someone lost.

    But SAR units cannot always be counted on to find a lost person, and in the case of a lost person who has expired, their equipment is sometimes, most times, useless in the search for a deceased person. That makes all things equal and in the case of a deceased person, a hiker has as much chance, if not more of running across the remains.

    Case in point, the September 2008 disapearance of Kelly Tate in the Superstition mountains wilderness area. Kelly Tate drove his motorcycle to the Lost Dutchman State Park trailhead and left it parked in the parking lot. He did not return and the Pinal County SAR was called to look for him.
    The Pinal Co. SAR and Pima Co. SAR looked for Kelley for 6 days using helicopters, horses, dogs and 150 persons. The search extended 10 miles into the wilderness area. The Lost Dutchman park was closed to the public while the search was ongoing. At least three other local and state SAR's came in to help with the search after the third day with their full force of equipment and personnel.

    6 days after the search started, the Lost Dutchman State Park was reopened to the public. Within one hour of the parks reopening a hiker alerted a Sonoran SAR member that they should check something laying alongside the Discovery trail ( a 1/2 mile long nature and wildlife, self-guided trail ) beginning at the parking lot.

    The Sonoran SAR member found a badly decomposed body laying 150 yards from the parking lot and where Kelly Tate had parked his motorcycle. The body was later identified as Kelly Tate, he had died from a heart attack and the same day he went missing. The command post for the SAR units was only 500 feet from the body.

    This is not a condemnation of the SAR units that took place in the search. They did an admirable job looking for this man and their efforts could not have saved him as he died before they were ever notified. But it does illustrate that often in the search for lost, and particularly deceased persons, technology and training can only go so far. State SAR units looking for deceased persons in rough terrain and heavy brush have a 50% success rating. In the other half of those cases the victim is either found by a passerby or never found. In those particular instances, the use of hikers, familiar with terrain and hiking rough country are as valuable as SAR units.

    Once the time has passed to hope a lost person can be recovered alive, all resources should be used to find the person, SAR units as well as experienced hikers.


  2. #2
    mx
    Nov 2004
    Alamos,Sonora,Mexico
    14,603
    11897 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    good morning Azhiker: You are correct. However, for the initial stage the teams should always be first choice. In your example, the interesting fact is that he was only 500 feet from the base.

    This presupposes that the many people that were just milling about destroyed any chance of actually finding him, because obviously all of his initial tracks were destroyed.

    An excellent example of why in the initial stages, only the team should be in the area, and they in very limited numbers until it has basically been established where the victim may have been last physically recorded, TRACKS. If none are established as being from the missing person, then it is time to turn them loose.

    Don Jose de La Mancha
    "I exist to live, not live to exist"

  3. #3
    us
    Jan 2010
    92
    44 times

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    Reyal de Tayopa,

    Yes and in my post I stated the same. However, no one can ignore, a man laying 500 feet from a command center utilizing 150 people, dogs, horses, helicopters and all other high tech equipment, and did not find the man in 6 days, is not going to find a man 10 miles back in the brushy canyons.

    Saying the reason he wasn't located by SAR was because too many hikers destroyed the tracks is disingenuous.

    No one is saying the SAR's don't do a good job, they are just not infallible and in the specific cases of a lost, deceased person in rough, remote and brushy country, SAR's and hikers are on the same level.

  4. #4
    mx
    Nov 2004
    Alamos,Sonora,Mexico
    14,603
    11897 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers


    good morning my new friend: You posted -->

    Saying the reason he wasn't located by SAR was because too many hikers destroyed the tracks is disingenuous
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Is it? If the first had followed his still effectively fresh tracks, he would have been quickly found.

    Later, with many milling around, planning an extensive "outlying search", basic psychological factors will dictate not having high awareness of the near by surroundings. Quite common in crime scenes.

    However, in essence, I agree with you.

    Don Jose de La Mancha
    "I exist to live, not live to exist"

  5. #5
    pw
    Apr 2003
    New Mexico
    BS
    2,850
    1355 times

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    It's not uncommon for a non-SAR person to find a lost person, alive or deceased. A well-publicized example of this recently occurred in the southern Black Range in SW New Mexico, miles from the active search area for a missing hiker, an SAR mission that included numerous SAR volunteers, two helicopters, the Border Patrol, a large National Guard contingent and others. A non-SAR person checking on his remote cabin following two feet of snow found the lost subject lying close to the structure, with a core body temperature of 81 deg and barely alive. That was fortunate for the subject and a relief to his family and all who volunteered five days of their otherwise busy lives to try to find him.

    I'm not sure what your point is, hiker, but I do know one thing - if I'm lost or injured in the mountains, my overriding hope would to be that a SAR mission has been initiated to try to find me. I can also tell you this - a SAR mission in New Mexico is a State Police action, and the SAR incident commander has the authority (with the assistance of the SP if needed) to restrict the active search area to only authorized personnel if neccesary. Do the SAR teams make mistakes, miss clues, fail to find people, etc? Of course they do - but they are still the best bet for the lost subjects.
    ​Adios, amigos - it's been interesting.







  6. #6
    us
    Jan 2010
    14
    3 times

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    You both make very good points.

    At this stage of the search the chance of SAR in flyovers finding any remains is pretty remote. I believe that the search was likely doomed from the start because it began a week or two after the hiker went missing, it just started too late. That said, a combination of aerial search combined with people on the ground who are INTIMATELY familiar with the areas terrain (whether they are associated with a government agency or not) are probably your best bet to finding someone missing in remote areas.

    Regards,

    Ranger

  7. #7
    pw
    Apr 2003
    New Mexico
    BS
    2,850
    1355 times

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    Quote Originally Posted by RangeroftheNorth
    You both make very good points.

    At this stage of the search the chance of SAR in flyovers finding any remains is pretty remote. I believe that the search was likely doomed from the start because it began a week or two after the hiker went missing, it just started too late. That said, a combination of aerial search combined with people on the ground who are INTIMATELY familiar with the areas terrain (whether they are associated with a government agency or not) are probably your best bet to finding someone missing in remote areas.

    Regards,

    Ranger
    You are correct on all points. The SAR mission will stand down at a certain point. If the subject is in the area, he will likely be located later by chance.
    ​Adios, amigos - it's been interesting.







  8. #8

    Dec 2005
    Arizona
    7,757
    5377 times

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    Ranger,

    The search started almost three weeks after the big rainstorm, which flattened the victims tent. That took place on Dec. 7, only two days after he entered the mountains. One question, does the crow walk, or hop?

    Azhiker,

    Since it seems you joined this site, specifically, to start this topic on SAR, can you tell us your qualifications on the subject? In order to give weight to your conclusions, it would help everyone
    to know your background in SAR.

    Thanks in advance,

    Joe Ribaudo
    " Hell, I was there!" Elmer Keith
    "There is an ancient proverb that says a man can never forgive you for a wrong he has done you." From a wise friend.

  9. #9
    us
    Jan 2010
    92
    44 times

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    Real de Tayopa,

    If you truly believe a man laying 500 feet from a SAR command center, utilizing helicopters, dogs, horses and 150 people, couldn't find that man laying there because someone(s) obscurred his fresh tracks, I don't know what to say to you.

    What about the trained dogs ? Did the people who supposedly obscurred his tracks stop the dogs from finding him too ? The man wasn't hidden, he was in relative plain sight. If a trained dog cannot follow a man's scent for 150 yards from where he parked his motorcycle, again I don't know what to say to you. The idea a man cannot be found because his tracks have been obscured is disingenuous also. There is no proof the man's tracks were obscured in the first place. Because he was found right beside the trail in relative plain sight, by the first person to pass by, it seems no one else used that trail after him or else they would have seen him, or smelled him as it was September and well over 100 degrees.

    The point here is not whether SAR units or hikers are good or bad, or if they are skilled or not skilled. It's not a contest. It's about finding someone who is lost. Decisions are sometimes made by skilled and trained people that scuttle the chances they have for finding someone. Case in point, Kelly Tate.

    This man lay within 500 feet of a SAR command center for 6 days because the SAR people never even contemplated he might be that close to the parking lot and never bothered to look there for him. They sent 150 people far and wide looking for clues but never checked the immediate vicinity, otherwise he would have been found within the first hours of the search.

    This doesn't mean SAR units are bad, it just means sometimes they make counterproductive decisions because they are human and humans are sometimes fallible.


    Cactusjumper,

    If you want to redefine my top post, read things into it I didn't say and play some who's best, who's most skilled and trained game, I don't care to play.

  10. #10
    um
    Nemo me impune lacesset

    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
    Tesoro Lobo Supertraq, (95%) Garrett Scorpion (5%)
    7,833
    9733 times

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    HOLA amigos,

    I have a question for our members whom are members of, or former members of Search and Rescue teams, which is this;

    What can we do, which would do the most good, most benefit, greatest help to the SAR teams to FIND the missing person?

    Thank you in advance,
    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  11. #11
    us
    Feb 2008
    Apache Junction, AZ
    MXT 300 / Javelina Gold Trommel
    277
    8 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    Gotta say Im in complete agreement with AZHiker, I was able to observe the search for Mr Tate (Sept 09) Two helicopters flew over, circled, landed in that parking lot many, many times during the search and not one "Trained Professional Observer" spotted the man!!!
    "THE GOLDEN RULE" 
    ...The one with the most gold makes all the rules...

  12. #12

    Dec 2005
    Arizona
    7,757
    5377 times

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    Azhiker,

    "If you want to redefine my top post, read things into it I didn't say and play some who's best, who's most skilled and trained game, I don't care to play."

    How, exactly, does this "redefine" this topic?

    "Since it seems you joined this site, specifically, to start this topic on SAR, can you tell us your qualifications on the subject? In order to give weight to your conclusions, it would help everyone to know your background in SAR."

    In any case, thank you for your reply. I believe it answered a very simple question as directly as you could.

    This will be my last post in this thread, as I don't want to disrupt your flow......

    Take care,


    Joe
    " Hell, I was there!" Elmer Keith
    "There is an ancient proverb that says a man can never forgive you for a wrong he has done you." From a wise friend.

  13. #13
    mx
    Nov 2004
    Alamos,Sonora,Mexico
    14,603
    11897 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    Evening Ladies & gentlemen: It was posted --> If you truly believe a man laying 500 feet from a SAR command center, utilizing helicopters, dogs, horses and 150 people, couldn't find that man laying there because someone(s) obscurred his fresh tracks, I don't know what to say to you.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    A very common psychological trick is to hide something in the open, it often is literally walked over / by without being 'consciously' seen. In this case apparently there were people wandering here, there, and every where etc., no-one was in the search mode, just running plans over in their heads. This is why witnesses are notoriously unreliable in a court proceeding.

    You know that his tracks weren't destroyed?

    On the dogs, why would they have found, or even looked for him until they were alerted what and who to search for?

    As for the helicopter crews, when they are landing, they do not rubber neck, but concentrate on the landing, the most critical part of every flight.. Plus, how do they know that it isn't one of the volunteers taking a 5 min nap?
    ************************************************** ***************
    It was also posted -->

    Decisions are sometimes made by skilled and trained people that scuttle the chances they have for finding someone. Case in point, Kelly Tate.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Sigh, tell me, having lived through two wars in spite of many foolish 'decisions' by others, not me, naturally, I am Perfect. heheheh

    I do question one thing, " where were our Az buzzards"? (yes I am a voting Az citizen) even If I live in Mexico.

    Final thing, since I wasn't there, nor am I aquainted with the area, but , 500 ft in the brush here is a long ways. In fact things that are only six ft away can be well hidden. Ever try to find a hobbled mule at zero temp, in
    thick brush if she doesn't want to be found?

    Don Jose de La Mancha
    "I exist to live, not live to exist"

  14. #14
    pw
    Apr 2003
    New Mexico
    BS
    2,850
    1355 times

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    Quote Originally Posted by Oroblanco
    HOLA amigos,

    I have a question for our members whom are members of, or former members of Search and Rescue teams, which is this;

    What can we do, which would do the most good, most benefit, greatest help to the SAR teams to FIND the missing person?

    Thank you in advance,
    Oroblanco
    1) Provide specific information to the SAR people pertaining to the subject's plans/destinations prior to him becoming lost (obviously unlikely).
    2) Volunteer to join the SAR search team as a non-member participant. Ground search teams have three or four members. Enough additional volunteers may be able to increase the number of ground teams and broaden the search area. Volunteers must demonstrate that they have the correct equipment and enough experience in order not to inhibit the search by their presence.
    3) After the SAR mission is called off (it will be, eventually), there is no reason why volunteers can't do anything they damned well please to attempt to locate the subject.

    And, by the way, Hiker, your Monday morning quarterbacking of previous searches is not adding anything positive to the present mission. Don't you suspect that any past mistakes have been acknowledged and hopefully corrected? Such is life. If it bothers you so much, you might consider joining your nearest SAR team and bringing your expertice to the game.
    ​Adios, amigos - it's been interesting.







  15. #15
    um
    Nemo me impune lacesset

    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
    Tesoro Lobo Supertraq, (95%) Garrett Scorpion (5%)
    7,833
    9733 times

    Re: Search and Rescue vs. hikers

    Thank you Springfield!
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

 

 
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