The Callout Has a New Format

Technology is changing nearly evey aspect of the world around us, and The Callout is no exception. If you're reading this article, you can see the team newsletter has evolved to a new, online format. There are a number of reasons for the decision. First and foremost is the ease of updating. For a volunteer organization, putting out a quality publication month after month is a daunting task. For the newsletter staff, that last week each month before publication is a stressful time. That problem has now largely been solved.  Working on the newsletter no longer requires  specialized skills or expensive desktop publishing software. In fact, the tools used are free. (The new format is actually created with blogging software called WordPress.) That means anyone interested in helping with the newsletter can participate; all that's necessary is a connection to the Internet. 

A second important reason for putting the newsletter online is the expanded functionality. It's now much easier to search for past articles or other specific information—especially as content accumulates over time. While still maintaining the look and feel of a newsletter, the new format also gives The Callout more of a progressive flare. The newsletter itself is now directly connected to the World Wide Web, making it much easier for the rest of the world to find us, while providing the user with a richer, more engaging experience. With what amounts to a bottomless page, articles aren't limited to what fits on an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper. One great benefit there is that now more photos and larger images can be incorporated into the newsletter. And when a particular topic warrants coverage in more detail, the space is there to do it.

Interactivity is a final key feature of the new newsletter. The new format makes it easy to create slideshows of trainings, searches, and other special events. For the first time, videos can easily be embedded into the newsletter. Watch for more of that interactive content appearing in the coming months. Another possibility under consideration is opening up some of the articles for comment and discussion, the same way readers can post questions or comments after a blog post. This type of two-way communication is much more in alignment with modern trends toward social media.

At this point the new format for The Callout is still experimental. The months ahead are likely to see a variety of changes as we experiment with various ideas . In the meantime, try it out, click on the links, and explore the site. Tell us what you like and what you don't. Your experience will help us improve the newsletter to an even more important means of communication. Please send your thoughts to the editor at


Map and Compass Checklist


By Mark Sembrat

Do you have the hang of using a map and compass? Run through the whole procedure.  Remember the following.

  • Never use the magnetic needle or the declination arrow when measuring or plotting bearings on the map.
  • When taking or following a bearing in the field, always align the pointed end of the declination arrow with the north-seeking end of the magnetic needle.

Orienting a Map

  1. Set to 0 or 360 degrees
  2. Place compass on the map with the direction-of-travel line toward the north on the map.
  3. Turn the map and compass together until the north-seeking end of the compass needle is aligned.
  4. Compare information on the map with the field topography.

Taking (measuring) a Bearing in the Field

  1. Hold the compass level in front of you and point the direction-of-travel line at the desired object.
  2. Rotate the housing to align the declination arrow with the magnetic needle.
  3. Read the bearing at the index line.

Plotting (following) a Bearing in the Field

  1. Set the desired bearing at the index line.
  2. Hold the compass level in front of you and turn your entire body until the magnetic needle is aligned with the declination arrow.
  3. Travel in the direction shown by the direction-of-travel line.

Taking (measuring) a Bearing on a Map

  1. Place the compass on the map, with the edge of the base plate joining the two points of interest.
  2. Rotate the housing to align the compass meridian lines with the north-south lines on the map
  3. Read the bearing at the index line.

Plotting (following) a Bearing on a Map

  1. Set the desired bearing at the index line.
  2. Place the compass on the map, with the edge of the base plate on the feature from which you wish to plot a bearing.
  3. Turn the entire compass to align the meridian lines with the map’s north-south lines. The edge of the base plate is the bearing line.

Declination:  The difference between True North (T) and Magnetic North (M)—Use 15 Degrees. In this part of California . . .

  • True = Magnetic – 15
  • Magnetic = True + 15


The Pro-Purchase Program

By Joe Keyser
It’s pretty obvious that search-and-rescue-type personalities don’t do what we do for the money. We’re pretty content to toil for a pat on the back—but the occasional perk doesn’t hurt. As members of Contra Costa Search and Rescue, we are eligible to participate in the Pro-Purchase programs from several manufacturers of the gear we know and love. These programs allow us to purchase gear we use for search and rescue at significant discounts off regular retail prices.

All team members in good standing are eligible to participate in these Pro-Purchase programs. Some of the manufacturers who generously allow us to buy gear at a discount are Mountain Hardwear, Black Diamond, Arcteryx, Big Agnes, Camelbak, Petzl, Katadyn, Osprey, and many others. However, there are a few rules we need to follow. The purchases from these programs are intended for SAR team members only. We are not allowed to purchase gear for family members, friends, or acquaintences. This is a strict rule! Manufacturers can and will kick us out of the program if the policy is abused. The one exception is Mountain Hardwear. Feel free to bring friends and family to the Mountain Hardwear employee store. Just show your SAR ID at the front desk to get in.

There is a current list of the various programs available to us on the team web site in the docs section. Look for the document entitled Pro Deal Information Sheet. Gear manufacturers and retail outlets are both listed. For manufacturer discounts, follow the directions on the sheet to sign up. For retailers, just bring along your SAR ID card. Enjoy the shopping and have fun playing with your new discounted gear.

Evolution of the 24-Hour Pack

 A key element of being search-ready is having a fully stocked 24-hour pack.  Contents of the pack are discussed in the Type 3 Academy and each new team member is expected to have the items checked off as a condition of graduation.  Today’s pack list has evolved over the years through constant evaluation and revision.  It’s interesting to look back on what SAR recommended members carry.

The February 1977 issue of Contra Costa SAR’s Lost and Found, the predecessor of today’s The Callout, listed the contents of an “Automobile Survival Kit” in three elements: an automobile first aid kit; equipment for personal comfort and safety or life support; and emergency equipment for comfort, safety, and life support.  The following lists are taken from that issue:


Components of this vital kit may be found in most homes and garages.  Any vehicle can be considered a movable, second home.  Always carry a few items in case of delays, emergencies, or mechanical failures.”

Automobile First Aid Kit

  • Sealable plastic container (holding):
    • 2 compress bandages
    • 1 triangle bandage
    • 1 small roll of 2” tape
    •  6 3×3 pads
    • 25 aspirins
    • 10 band-aids
  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • Bar soap
  • Tube of Foile (for burns)
  • Ampoule of ammonia inhalants
  • Green soap disinfectant
  • Needle
  • Safety pins
  • Matches”

Personal comfort and safety, or life support

  • Empty coffee can, 3 pound
  • Dry foods (crackers, rye crisp, etc.)
  • Freezable liquids (diet food drinks)
  • Chocolate bars (4 or 5)
  • Small can of fruit (303 size) and can opener
  • Woolen blanket or sleeping bag
  • Matches (for fire)
  • Candle

Put all dry foods in the coffee can which can also serve as emergency stove or water container.  In vehicles used for outdoor activities, walking shoes and complete change of old usable clothing is advised, as well as a raincoat.”

The third group, emergency equipment for comfort, safety and life support, included a variety of tools including: tire chains, heavy rope or tow cable, multiple screwdriver set, pliers, short garden spade, pruning saw or axe, small kit of assorted nuts, bolts, small springs, and nails, plastic tarp (9×12 ft), water bucket, electrical tape, small file, six feet of soft steel wire, and signal aids (flashlight with extra batteries and flares).

As you can see, we’ve progressed pretty far in the past 35 years from ammonia inhalants, canned fruit with can opener, and water buckets.  It’s also interesting to consider what the next generation of searchers will carry 35 years from now (in 2047): some type of solar-powered, miniaturized, and computerized link to an all-purpose replicator.  Some believe with increased use and effectiveness of GPS, cell phones, and personal locator beacons, there may not be as many lost people in the future.

Searcher Spotlight: Jamie Corum

Taking Gandhi’s words “Be the change you wish to see in the world” to heart, Jamie Corum set about to join SAR some years ago, but she thought she had to join law enforcement first. She was willing to do that, but a hiring freeze kept her from her course; that is, until she learned she could work for SAR for free – no hiring freeze here. So she joined the SAR force in 2009.

A self-proclaimed IT computer geek, Jamie has put in some 13 years with the Acalanes School District. When she’s not working – or searching – she also enjoys photography and other art forms, traveling the world (it’s Bali next) and hanging with friends and family (synonymous, she says).

“I also reset myself by doing some adrenaline event like parachuting, bungee jumping or zip lining,” she says.

Raised in the Central Valley, Jamie tried on a few neighborhoods before settling in Martinez. She has also tried on a few vocations, including being a massage therapist, getting ordained and playing semi-pro ball. Clearly, she’s not afraid to step up to the plate.

“I’m generally a git-’er-done kind of girl when in the thick of it,” she says. “There will be time to freak out after the fog has cleared.”

Words she wrote in school a few years ago still apply now, she says. Among them: “I believe in humanity and kindness; I search, I rescue; I love a lot.”

Her SAR advice, besides the most practical “Pee before you go,” consists mainly of reminders to be clue-aware and putting the proverbial shoe on the other foot by being a search subject for the Academy.

“On a cold, rainy night, when they don’t find you or hear you and then leave you … but you can see them,” she says, “it makes you realize why we do what we do: So that others shall live.”

Searcher Spotlight: Dan Coyne

“As a retiree, everything I do is a leisure activity,” says Dan Coyne. That may be true, but you’d hardly call his life leisurely. Besides being an active SAR member since 2008, Dan also volunteers as a senior center driver and has just become an usher for the Lesher Center. He hikes, he travels, he golfs and he is serious about tai chi.

Dan’s son, Christopher, and he currently share their home, but that will soon change when Christopher goes off to law school in the fall. One more place to travel, Dan says.

Dan is an East Coast transplant, having left his native Rochester, NY, for the Army and then college. He finished his graduate degree in labor relations at U. of Oregon (yes, he admits he’s a Duck) and was drafted by PG&E, where he worked for 30 years in all aspects of human resources. He moved around a bit before landing – most likely for good – in Danville.

Several years ago, Dan’s wife was diagnosed with cancer. But she was so supportive of Dan’s involvement with SAR that, in 2009, she encouraged him to answer a callout even as they were headed for her birthday dinner. In 2011, after Mazie died, SAR members returned that support for Dan. “I hope everyone understands how much I appreciated their help,” he says.

Dan’s SAR epiphany came during a search for an Alzheimer’s walkaway. A woman approached him as he was going door to door and told him it was her mother they were seeking. She thanked Dan and the team for being there.

“Later, I thought of what my wife had said on her birthday when I got called out, that if it was her father that was lost, she would want people like me to look for him,” Dan says. “I realized how much of an impact our work has on people – it’s not often that you have the ability to have such a positive impact on total strangers.”

Team Commendations, April

Steve Filippoff was selected by the Command Staff for member recognition in April. Steve's excellent organization skills, time management, and leadership during the team training on March 10th resulted in an exceptional opportunity for learning important new USAR skills. In addition to Steve's outstanding work organizing the recent training, his day-to-day contributions to the USAR Resource were also recognized.

Excellent work, Steve!