2012 SAR Coordinator Awards

Last month we honored the SAR Members (Murphy/ Murray), Rookie (Griffith) and Explorers (Riggs twins) of the Year. Their contributions over the past year made them extremely well deserving team members. Their individual accomplishments made a major impact on the team.

As I mentioned during the Volunteer Banquet, trying to narrow recognition down to a few people is difficult given the size of the team.

The SAR team annually contributes over 40,000 hours to the mission. This means a lot of people are doing exceptional work on this team.

To try and ensure that we give proper recognition commensurate with the size of this program we have the SAR Coordinator Award. The members who receive this are chosen by the SAR Command Staff for their contributions to the success of the team over the past year.

2012 SAR Coordinator Awards:

Josh Israel, Chris Retta and Judy Apfel
These three people played a critical role as part of the SAR logistics resource this year. Along with the other dedicated members of the group, they ensured equipment was ready and deployed as needed. The best way to demonstrate the effectiveness of the logistics resource is when they are not part of the pre-event preparation, there is a distinct drop-off on our ability to be ready to respond. These three played huge roles in ensuring the academy was ready, team trainings were ready and countless other events had what they needed to be successful. Managing logistics is neverending; it’s not high profile and it’s probably not recognized enough. This group has been a huge contributor this year.

Caroline Thomas Jacobs
Caroline has been a dynamo this year taking on the role of member-at-large and redefining this position into the team ombudsman. The team ombudsman is a vital link between the membership and the Command Staff. It provides a person that the membership can rely on to answer critical questions regarding the direction of the team.
Caroline in her spare time took on the role of team training sergeant as well. She took the single biggest training of the year, the full-team medical training, and made it bigger and better than in previous years. Caroline’s hand has been involved in most of the monthly team trainings since then. Her dedication to making the team better is exemplary.

Joe Keyser
Joe has been heavily involved in the Mountain Rescue Group for the past several years. This year he took on the management and execution of the Type 1 required Wilderness Medical Responder class. This was no easy task. The curriculum had to be built from the ground up and instructors trained on the required topics. Joe took additional training to build his skills. He filled a training void on the team and ensured the Type 1 resource maintained a high level of medical training.

Steve Filippoff
Steve has been one of the leads of the USAR resource over the past few years. He is quiet and unassuming, but has been instrumental in building the USAR resource into an extremely competent and cohesive unit. His professionalism and drive to increase everyone’s competence and his drive to get better makes him stand out. And if his total dedication was not enough, he has embarked on training a K9 in SAR. His dedication to the mission is extraordinary.

Jeremiah Dees
Jeremiah has been on the team for some time. He has made his mark on the technical operations of the team. He is the lead of the USAR resource and a key technical operator in the Mountain Rescue Group. His competence and leadership have raised the technical bar in both groups. He has been able to help marry the two disciplines of USAR and mountain rescue to build both programs by making them come together. His focus on safety and his technical expertise is unmatched. His ability to communicate the direction, ensure safe operations and at the same time build competence is paying huge dividends in how our team manages technical rescue operations.

Pierce Plam
Pierce while helping others publish the monthly newsletter has now inherited the title of publisher. While many help put together the monthly newsletter, his expertise in the software to build the online newsletter is what keeps it going month after month. People don’t join the team to publish newsletters. But the newsletter is important to the team. Pierce tirelessly and with good humor continues to make this publication happen.

David Cossu and Andy Csepely
Dr.’s Cossu and Csepely are the brains behind the CP. We are fortunate to have a huge variety of technical capabilities when we run a CP. Wired networks, printers, plotters, gps downloads etc. Without their work behind the scenes to ensure it all runs smoothly, we’d still be doing everything old school. The majority of the team does not see what it takes to keep this aspect of the team running and evolving. These two individuals bring us some world-class technical expertise that sets this team apart.

Antoine Snijders, Paul Moss and Jim Gay
There is a lot of work that goes into keeping our medical equipment up to standard as well as ensuring our medical details are well staffed. These three played a variety of roles to ensure we were ready for both trainings and scheduled events. Whether it was restocking equipment, scheduling events or ensuring we have the proper staffing, this was the responsibility of these three. Their work was almost all behind the scenes but instrumental in ensuring we were ready to provide our medical services to the public.

Diane Blue
Diane for many years has been involved in the recruiting and hiring of countless SAR volunteers. She puts in a lot of hours day in and day out contacting prospective applicants, processing their paperwork and shepherding these candidates through to the academy. Her positive personality and follow-through have ensured we continue to bring in quality applicants. She’s the perfect SAR ambassador.

I’ve mentioned many times that there are many team members doing remarkable things to ensure the team’s growth and success. The above names make up only part of why this team is so amazing. But if you look at the work done by these individuals it becomes very easy to see that with-out them, this team would be much different. This team would be much smaller, much less technically competent and much less capable of helping those in need. It is no small feat. Please take a moment and thank them for their service to the mission.

Upcoming Ham License Opportunities

The Communications Support Group has sought out additional one-day “Ham cram” classes for anyone interested in becoming a licensed amateur radio operator, as well as for any current licensees looking to upgrade their privileges. CoCoSAR member Ron Huntington attended the recent training in Tracy and earned his technician license.

“I took David Corsey's Ham-cram session in Tracy,” Ron says. “There were all kinds of people taking the course, from kids to seniors. This particular class has a 90-plus-percent success rate. You basically cram for six 45-minute sessions, and then immediately take the exam while everything is fresh in your mind.

If you don't pass, they allow you to take the test multiple times until you pass. (One person passed on the third try, but most pass the first try.) I was surprised at how easy it was to get my license!”

Here is an updated list of upcoming sessions. (Click to be taken to the registration pages.)

Tracy May 25, 2013 0800-1600

Stockton July 6, 2013 0800-1600

Tracy July 27, 2013 0800-1600

Stockton August 17, 2013 0800-1600

Tracy September 28, 2013 0800-1600

Stockton October 19 2013 0800-1600

Tracy November 23 2013 0800-1600

Stockton December 21 2013 0800-1600

Also, the Concord Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) has a seven-week traditional technician class beginning in August.  For information, email HamRadioClass@gmail.com.

If you register for any of the above classes, let someone from the Communications Support Group know and he/she will try and put people together for carpooling, etc.

Jeffrey Deuel

Amateur/HAM radio liaison

CoCo SAR Comms Support Group

Hunter Deuel

CoCo SAR Comms Support Group

Fitness For Hiking

By Jeremiah Dees

Intro – Approach/Effective Practices
Learn to move well before trying to go hard, otherwise you should expect to get good at moving poorly.  There are a lot of parts to this.  Successful people take it one thing at a time, so that's what we're going to do.  
So the annual fitness hike is right around the corner, and despite your best intentions, it seems that fitness has been sneaking away from you. Unfortunately, fitness is not free. Deep down you know that you are better than what’s taken place.  It’s just been really hard keeping up lately, hasn’t it?
The good news is that it’s not difficult to turn things around. It only requires taking one or two small steps each day and you might be surprised to know that your body is begging you to cross this threshold. Successful people thrive on the continuous feed of personal growth and discovery that follows daily acts of commitment to themselves.
Ready to get started?  Great!
But first, a little housekeeping:
In each of the next four issues of the Callout, I’ll provide you with a routine and a little bit of education that addresses a part of recapturing your health and developing your fitness. These are general recommended abilities that nearly everyone should develop at some point in their life. (If you have recently been injured or are under the care of a medical professional, including taking medication, then I would advise consulting with your care provider before becoming much more physically active.)
Next, let’s set a mindset for success:
Making an effort every day is much more important than getting it perfect,  and when you miss a day, there is no need to feel vexed.  We become what we put our energy into.  From now on you have my permission to wipe the slate clean.  Yesterday does not matter.  Ask yourself, “What am I going to do today to get closer to my goals?”
It is easy to get distracted as there is a lot of misinformation out there surrounding health and fitness.  You are an organism (not a machine) and a person (not a game show contestant).  Change takes a little bit of time to feel.  So stay focused on what you are doing now.  Give your efforts a chance to grow.  I can assure you that every effort you make triggers positive (anabolic) changes inside.  
What anyone else can do shouldn’t have any relation to where you feel your performance should be. Dump the fixed mindset and embrace a growth mindset. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “What am I going to do today to get closer to my goals?”
When trying new things it is important to distinguish between pain and discomfort.  If you experience pain and feel that an activity is hurting you, then either alter the activity or don’t do it.  Discomfort, on the other hand, should be expected. Attempting activities never done before should feel foreign for awhile, maybe even a little uncomfortable.
Today’s Lesson:
Learn to move well before trying to go hard or far; otherwise you should expect to get good at moving poorly. You don’t want to earn yourself the long-term consequences of having dysfunctional movement patterns (aka your physical habits).
There are a lot of components to moving well.  For now we are going to address the most common insult to a human’s capacity: mobility limitation.  And for that, we are going to introduce foam rolling.  
Foam rolling is an effective way to start any exercise session.  It takes only 5 to 10 minutes to hit all areas of the body.  Your aim is to roll over each area slowly just until the muscles release.  If a muscle feels very intense at one spot, then sit on it until the intensity begins to dull.  
Follow this with a slow roll back and forth, repeated 6 to 12 times before moving on.  Adjust your positioning to control pressure. On your tender bits, shoot for 6 to 7 on a scale of 10 discomfort without triggering guarding mechanisms.  You might have to lean against a wall (rather than lay on it) to accomplish this.  The following pictures demonstrate the routine.
I recommend rolling sensitive areas once in the morning and again before bed every night.  You can expect noticeable improvements in mobility immediately, and every week limitations should diminish.



On Feb. 27, 15 team members spent their morning with the Mutual Aid Mobile Field Force (MAMFF) teaching some 60-plus members of various law enforcement agencies how we at CoCoSAR conduct USAR rescues. At six stations, SAR members either proctored or performed the roles of subjects so that MAMFF participants could get some hands-on experience.

Stations included how to conduct a hasty search and mark the buildings; structure triage and recon; patient packaging; and three stations each employed one aspect of the ladder-rescue system.
The event was well-received and all good intentions lean toward another paired training in the future.


February Full Team Training: Mock Search

This year’s nighttime mock search training took place Feb. 9 in Morgan Territory. The training was developed by Explorer Patrick Walker as part of his endeavor to become an Eagle Scout. With the help of mentor Joe Keyser, Patrick set up a search scenario involving a plane crash with multiple subjects.

At one point, three rope rescue teams were employed, and medical skills came into play. The equestrians got an opportunity to enhance their training, as did some newcomers to the Command Post. All subjects were found and returned to base (searchers, too), even though the team learned that communications at Morgan Territory can be sketchy, at best.

Team Commendations, February 2013







Together Patrick Walker, who took the lead, and Joe Keyser, who offered mentoring, put together a challenging and interesting night mock search team training for February. This is no easy task. Patrick built a "plane" (or parts of it) to use for a crash scenario and gathered friends and family to act as subjects. This was an inventive project and as anyone who has ever put on a training knows, took a lot of work and organization. Kudos to Patrick and Joe for their efforts.

Recommended Hike: Surprised by Goldfish

Mt. Diablo/Burma Road to the summit

By Patrick Walker

There are plenty of trails that lead to the summit of Mt. Diablo, but if you are looking for a beautiful and strenuous hike, this one is for you.

Start by driving approximately 2.5 miles up Northgate Road past the gate to enter the state park. If you see a huge hill with a trail straight up it, you are at the right place. Start heading up the hill on Burma Road Trail.

Once you reach the top of the hill, keep going straight onto Angel Kerley Road Trail. You will come upon some trees with a small trail just past them leading to the left; take this trail (Mothers Trail).

After some steep switchbacks you reach a goldfish pond. (Yes, it's full of goldfish. Don't ask why.) Continue on up the trail and you'll eventually reach Deer Flat Road Trail, which leads you straight to Juniper Campground.

Find the summit trail and you'll be at the top of Mt. Diablo in no time!

 Miles: 4.25
 Elevation Gain: Approx. 3,000 feet
 Time: Less than 3 hours
 Difficulty: Medium

Have a favorite hike? Tell the team about it. Send your ideas to the Callout staff.

Maintaining MRA Accreditation: Snow and Ice

By Joe Keyser

The CoCoSAR Mountain Rescue Group (MRG) participated in the annual Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) reaccreditation at June Mountain Ski Resort in the town of June Lake on March 2. (The MRA requires reaccreditation in one of three core skills every year; this year it was snow and ice rescue.)

Sixteen CoCoSAR team members gathered at the resort with the goal of maintaining CoCoSAR's MRA certification. They were among more than 20 teams from all over the California region seeking reaccreditation. 

CoCoSAR has been training since November on Mt. Diablo and at Donner Pass in order to perfect skills in the two disciplines the team was required to demonstrate at June Lake: avalanche rescue and technical snow and ice rescue systems. To test the team's ability with technical snow and ice rescue systems, two observers accompanied the team up a 35- to 40-degree snow slope to a GPS location. At this time, the observers designated a random team member as the subject to be lowered about 500 feet down to a road. The team quickly assessed snow conditions, built anchors (in terrible snow), assembled main and belay systems, and assessed and packaged the patient and lowered him down the slope.

Next the team was required to locate a buried avalanche beacon in a simulated avalanche area in 20 minutes or less. It took the team about 20 minutes to prove conclusively, using transceivers and a grid search, that there was no beacon buried in the assigned area. After event organizers did a quick huddle, they realized CoCoSAR's beacon was buried in a different avalanche zone. Once directed to the right avalanche zone, the team found its beacon (and a second buried for another team) in half the required time limit.

The two proctors assigned by the MRA to observe the team came away very impressed by the teamwork, knowledge, and skills displayed by CoCoSAR team members. The proctors passed the team on both stations. Overall the event was an excellent opportunity for the team to show off its technical rescue skills, network with other SAR teams from around the state, and certify its standing as one of the premier search and rescue teams in California.

Pictures courtesy of Karen Najarian:

Searcher Spotlight: David Cossu

Team members may not hear much from David Cossu, but he gets things done with a quiet efficiency. As a network consulting engineer for a large telecommunications company, he has some specific skills to offer and, if asked to use his expertise in the technical realm, he’s on it – helping to print out maps during a search or figuring out how to import a photo of a subject for dissemination, for example.

Last year, David earned member recognition for the month of May because of his help resolving a longstanding issue with network communications for several of the team's most critical search tools.

Prior to his work in telecommunications, David served in the Army for almost four years. During that time he lived in and traveled to a wide variety of places and enjoyed learning the history from each locale.

But despite living for some time back east, as well as in Turkey and Germany, he settled close to his roots – which were in Fairfield. He now lives in Walnut Creek with wife DeeAnna and three kids (not to mention a dog, cat and six chickens with possibly a rabbit on the way).

When David is not volunteering his time, he spends it with his kids and their activities. He also likes to ski, fish, river raft and hang out with friends over a good barbecued meal.

David joined CoCoSAR in the fall of 2010. He was looking to volunteer his time to something he felt “was meaningful and had a strong purpose and goal,” he says. After the orientation, he says, he was also attracted to the structure and the importance of the role SAR played in the community.

While bringing teamwork as well as technical skills to the team, David also continues to explore learning new things. He says he wants to continue to become more versatile and useful in different team capacities.

Three simple truths he says he has learned so far:

1.     You are not getting a call in the middle of the night from the Sheriff’s Office because someone just wants to chat with you, or they’re bored and have nothing better to do.

2.     When able, always check and see if you are needed to swing by OES to pick up a vehicle

3.     Make sure you have a dry pair of socks in your pack at all times.

David says he has been impressed with how well CoCoSAR members conduct themselves during multi-agency, out-of-county efforts, and “the high level of professionalism that is demonstrated at all times.” In particular, he points to the recent Mt. Tamalpais extrication and the leadership, knowledge and dedication that made the mission a success.

“Let me just say this, our Type 1’s just rock, with the directions they provided and rigging up of the several safety lines during the recent Stinson Beach callout – and under considerable stress, I might add,” David says. “(It was) nothing short of remarkable and inspiring … it was a New Year’s Eve/Day that I will not soon, if ever, forget.

“If I had to pass something along, I would say any efforts you are making to maintain your level of physical conditioning while in SAR does pay dividends, and really does pay off in some of these environments we are asked to operate in.

“It continues to be both an honor and privilege to serve as a member of the team with such a dedicated and professional, able-bodied group of people sharing in these common goals.”

Searcher Spotlight: Lana Gorina

One paragraph of self-description tells a large volume of what one might expect from Lana Gorina. She says: “My skills are best described as canine traits: high drive, energy, tenacity, well-socialized, friendly, likes food and toys, loves people and other dogs, curious and fairly brave, solid bite inhibition (one would hope), exposed to many environments/cultures/people, well-educated and properly trained. A few issues with basic obedience, but it's a work in progress.”

Lana’s canine references are apt, because it was her shepherd that motivated her to join CoCoSAR and Mila (pronounced Mee-la) is currently in training as a trailing dog with the Canine Resource.

That Lana has a sense of humor is evident the moment one meets her, just as it’s evident that she is not at all shy. The Academy of 2011, which she attended, heard from her early – and often.

Born in the former USSR, Lana lived in Poland, East Germany and Cuba before coming to the United States in 1990. She now lives in a remote part of El Sobrante with her only remaining family member (her brother) and tons of wild animals, along with the tame ones she cares for – two dogs and two cats.

She is a biochemist by education, and has spent most of her professional career as a scientist in oncology and respiratory drug development until about a year ago. Currently unemployed, she says she is enjoying the opportunity to spend more time on searches and training.

For fun, Lana used to race motorcycles and volunteer as a riding instructor at local racetracks, and she enjoys reading and cooking, “but this SAR team thingy and dogs take a big chunk of my not-so-free time now,” she says.    

“I will try anything at least once. Granted, I am addicted to new challenges, and as soon as I become skilled at something that used to be impossible for me to conquer, I move on and look for a harder challenge. So, I finally found myself a hobby that seems to have endless challenges and adventures to offer.”     

Besides giving her challenges, SAR has also given Lana new, strong associations and close friendships.    

“I am glad to be surrounded by a bunch of people who seem to have the same never-give-up attitude,” she says. “Where else can one find a couple of hundred people driven by inexplicable desire to make their lives less comfy and relaxing through constant training, searches and other team-related activities preparing for the Big One, or anything else of that sort?”    

To that end, she believes all the hassle of training is well worth it, not to mention, expected. Prior to joining CoCoSAR, she attended trainings in other counties and was not sold. But her first experience with CoCoSAR – playing a dead subject at a full-team medical training – gave her a, one could say, corpse-eye view of how this team works. She was impressed.    

“I saw many people doing many different things, making mistakes, trying, learning, succeeding, failing, trying again, constantly moving around – a well-orchestrated chaos in motion – and I thought ‘yep, this is definitely a place for me’,” she says. “Being a member of our CoCo SAR team feels like being a part of a big dysfunctional yet very happy and loving family. We all have the same mission, and we all contribute to it according to our desire and abilities. This implicit feeling of trust I have about my teammates during searches is a very powerful motivator.”

And Lana is especially appreciative of her Canine Resource “family.”    

“Every time I log in my canine training hours, I am thinking how many more hours my teammates spent planning, training, and troubleshooting me and my dog,” she says. “For every one hour of my time, it's at least five more hours of my team members’. Their dedication, constant support, encouragement and patience is absolutely incredible.”