Searcher Spotlight: Nancy Hart

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Searchers swarmed the area in Danville around Nancy Hart's 1950s rancher home one evening this May in an effort to find her autistic son. Of course, this wasn't a real scenario and her son wasn't really missing. But it could have been real, because Nancy has a son with autism (now high-functioning) and who had, in the past, gone missing. 

This time, however, it was a mock search Hasty Squad training and Nancy was in the thick of it.

Autism has been front and center in Nancy's life and it is one of the reasons she joined CoCoSAR in 2005, since she knew autistic children frequently go missing. Also, Hurricane Katrina had just happened and she wanted to be part of a team that could help in a disaster. Those reasons, along with her enjoyment of camping and rock climbing, contributed to her decision to join the team.

Right away she jumped into a high level of involvement, going from EMR to becoming an EMT, writing up the SAR Academy manual and then becoming the academy sergeant for two years. A few years ago, Nancy had to leave the team for medical reasons, but now she's back and raring to go. “I'm really happy to be back,” she says.

Nancy was born in San Jose but moved about a bit before settling in Danville. In her day job she works as an IT project manager for John Muir, but she has also, over the years, put in some serious work toward enlightening others about autism through Cure Autism Now. 

Her children – son Connor is 19, daughter Sarah is 21 – are both in college but to keep her company while they're away she has a dog, a rescue cat and a built-up Land Rover Defender 90 (that she says draws some serious envy). For fun she goes to Disneyland, studies languages (including modern Greek), researches nutritional strategies, reads history, and works in her garden.

Oh. And then there's SAR … again. This time she's going to start by venturing more into USAR training.

The SAR team wisdom that Nancy offers is that “It takes a team to find a person.” 

As an example, she cites a search in which she and her teammates spent several hours simply standing on a road. 

“The strategy was to flush out an autistic boy by moving him forward with the noise of searchers and helicopters,” she says. “It worked! He was found that day after spending a night in the woods.”

In essence, “even though a team member might not get a very glamorous assignment, everyone plays an important part,” she says. “All I did was stand on a road. If I hadn't done my part along with everyone else doing their parts as perimeters, the strategy would not have worked.”

So now she's back and ready to do her part.

AmGen Medical Detail Recap

It's not every day that CoCoSAR gets front-row seats to a major sporting event. The near-final, seventh stage of the Amgen Tour of California afforded our team the ability to see the “Greatest Cycling Race in America” while practicing patching up some road rash.

With 5,000-plus cyclists (including the crowd), thousands more onlookers, and some steep drop-offs that would make your Camelback pucker, team members provided on-scene medical support by staffing three aid stations and several roving patrols. 

The day was beautiful and the teamwork was even better as the team adapted, improvised and overcame a variety of obstacles from last-minute operational changes to difficult communications. Of course, CoCoSAR pulled it off without a hitch with both style and flare (note the pictures).

Thanks to all those that participated, especially Robert Harrison, our new medical sergeant, for whom the SAR-gods chose this as his first event.
 

Summer Is Here

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By Nancy Hart

Our summer Search and Rescue missions can bring us into some long hot days. It's important to know the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses for ourselves, for our subjects, and for our teammates. I know this well now after my experience at this year's County Fair. It was in the upper 90s on Friday and a whopping 105 degrees on Saturday. Even with sunscreen, I was sunburned on Friday. My body's cooling system just couldn't keep up on Saturday with the burn and the even higher temperatures. Although I drank plenty of water and wore sunscreen, I still succumbed to heat exhaustion by late Saturday. And like the subject in Diane Blue's scenario at last month's full team training, I tried to keep going!  Thanks to a teammate who kept insisting I had too much sun, I finally signed out and spent the next two days nursing a headache and staying indoors. Be safe out there!

Heat Illnesses To Be On The Watch For

Heat edema (and it starts)
Heat causes blood vessels to dilate (open up) and as the body is starting to have trouble with using salt to sweat out, fluid will pool in the hands and legs. Ever get those puffy fingers when running or hiking?

Heat exhaustion (milder initial stage)
Move into an air-conditioned environment and don’t go back out into the sun for at least a day or two or the condition will return and possibly be worse!
• profusely sweating
• rapid weak pulse
• rapid breathing (just can’t “catch your breath”)
• blood pressure drops when standing up (you feel dizzy)
• fatigue (you might feel a little “out of it” and “tired”)
• reddened face changes to -> pale, cool, and moist
• headache
• muscle cramping
• nausea (sometimes vomiting)

Heat stroke (next stage, can be deadly!!)
Immediately get out of the sun, in an air-conditioned room preferably, and sponge cool water on the skin. Call for an ambulance to the emergency room.
• sweating has stopped!! – skin is dry, red and hot (body’s sweating mechanism has failed)
• body temperature is up over 101 degrees F
• confusion (Can your teammate or subject remember where they are? What the plans were for the day? What day of the week it is? Their name or your name?)
• throbbing headache and nausea
• severe cramps (as if muscles are encased in cement and you can’t move)
• pulse is fast, breathing rapid, blood pressure low

CDC Facts on Heat Illness, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke
 

Searcher Spotlight: Brian Mapel

DSC09144“Basically I’m still a kid playing with erector sets and Tonka toys; it’s just that the sandbox is a little bigger now.”

That’s how Brian Mapel sums up his career as an engineer. A graduate of Santa Clara University who earned his business master’s at Cal, Brian now owns his own firm that provides temporary structure designs for large infrastructure projects.

 “We get to dream up all kinds of unorthodox solutions and then go build them … stuff you’d never get away with in the world of permanent design,” he says.

But even with all this expertise, he still learned something from his three years of CoCoSAR experience that he has translated into his paid work.

“On one of our projects last year we hauled a 100,000-pound excavator up a dam face using a haul system I modeled off of something (Tim) Murphy showed me in USAR,” Brian says.

Brian, though, gives as good as he gets, offering his skills to proctor for USAR and his experience in leadership (gleaned, in part, from his time as a tank commander in the Army) for all team activities.

His younger years were spent in the southern part of the state and country (Los Angeles and Houston) with a tight-knit family. After a few more moves he landed in Martinez, despite the fact that his parents and one of his siblings, with whom he is very close, still live in L.A. But he and his sister have often met up for trips overseas to such places as Thailand, New Zealand and Japan.

Besides travel, he also enjoys backpacking and kayaking, live music, theater and art. And in addition to these activities and a stressful job that sounds like it should take up ALL of his time, he still spends about four months a year leading a group of professionals in mentoring high school kids with an eye toward interesting them in architecture, construction or engineering.

And then there’s SAR.

 “My teammates make SAR worth the work and the effort. I could take any handful of people on this team and show you a handful of exceptional people,” he says. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who are passionate about what they do, and this team just exemplifies that. It’s a real pleasure every month to spend time with this group.”

CoCoSAR 2013 Type 1 Academy Begins

This week, 11 new candidates and four candidates returning from previous years, began the CoCoSAR Type 1 Academy. Joe Keyser, Academy Training Sergeant, gives an overview of what the students are learning.

What does it mean to be a Type 1 searcher for CoCoSAR?
Being a Type 1 searcher means you respond to callouts in the most difficult and remote terrain in California. Type 1s can be requested to deploy almost anywhere in the state unsupported for up to 72 hours.

What types of terrain do CoCoSAR Type 1 searchers typically operate in?
The state of California defines Type 1 terrain as steep, high altitude, snow-covered or rough. Usually we operate in very remote areas. In the past, we’ve deployed to wilderness areas such as Yosemite, Ventana, Yolla Bolly, King's Canyon, Sequoia and Ansel Adams, as well as remote areas in many of the state's national forests.

How many Type 1 searches does CoCoSAR typically participate in every year?
Typically we average about two Type 1 searches a year. Last year, however, due to a variety of factors, including an early fall snowstorm, we responded to five Type 1 callouts.

How long does it typically take to complete the CoCoSAR required Type 1 training?
While it’s possible to complete all Type 1 trainings in one year, most people complete it in two or more years. Due to the volume of trainings and inevitable schedule conflicts, it’s very challenging to get everything done in one year.

Besides the academy, what other training do candidates have to complete before they can achieve Type 1 status for CoCoSAR?
In addition to the academy, candidates must complete the Diablo endurance hike (DEH); the advanced land navigation classroom sessions and field exercise; basic wilderness search tactics (an overnight backpacking trip); and advanced wilderness search tactics (a two-night long-distance backpacking trip). They also need to complete the course in wilderness first aid (WEMR). Those are required for Type-1 status. Type 1 searchers may also choose to continue their training to become certified in high-altitude terrain, snow terrain, or technical snow and ice terrain.

What types of skills will the candidates be learning in the Academy?
Candidates will learn about wilderness communication, gear, risk assessment, body management, available advanced trainings and more. New this year will be weapons-awareness training.

How many Type 1 team members does CoCoSAR have currently?
The team currently has about 30 active Type 1 members.

Who should consider becoming a Type 1 team member for CoCoSAR?
Any current Type 2 team member who wants to improve his/her searcher skills, challenge himself/herself physically and mentally, train and search in some of the most remote and beautiful places in the state and assume more of a leadership role on the team should consider Type 1 training.

 

In the wee hours of Monday morning in Antioch…

Over half of the CoCoSAR team participated at the Contra Costa County Fair in Antioch as set-up volunteers, medical support and Reserve duty deputies for four days of fair activity. However, an unseen few worked the closing operations. 
 
While 90-plus team members helped with SAR operations during the fair, eight individuals helped with the dismantling and transfer of equipment back to the OES, some of whom had already spent many hours on medical and SAR duty. Still, with good spirits and a hope to finish quickly, they focused on the task at hand. 
 
Of course, Murphy’s Law always came into play (“If anything can go wrong, it will”).  So, in the wee dark hours of Monday morning, they had to contend with an uncooperative vehicle and trailer set-up on Hwy 4. But no matter, for the problems were addressed and solutions were found. By 0230 their task was complete, with only the need to get themselves home safely. 

The names of our unsung heroes are Kevin Batewell, Benjamin Fandinola, Erin Field, Robert Harrison, Tim Murphy, Casey Riggs, Micheal Riggs and Paul West. 

Rick Kovar led this merry band of workers. He wished to have these heroic few given a well-earned note of credit for their hard work and willingness to endure. Give them all a thank you for completing the final task and adding to the success of the 2013 County Fair.

Push

By Jeremiah Deespush

Pushing requires nearly the same skeletal mechanics as pulling; however force is applied in the opposite direction. This requires a different pattern of muscular activation. As with the pulling, get the movement pattern right before pushing against resistance.

I often ask people to demonstrate how they would push me over and they look a lot like I do in these pictures. Then I have them do pushups or bench press and the first thing they do is raise their elbows and lift their shoulders (a strategy that will quickly damage the shoulder under load).

When performing pushups, mimic the positioning represented in the pictures above.

  • Start in the plank position.
  • Take a deep breath into your belly to establish a positive bridge.
  • Hold your shoulder blades down against the back of the rib cage as you do the pushup.
  • Break the arms toward your sides and lower your chest toward the ground.
  • Keeping the body in a rigid bridge, press your hands into the floor. Create tension in your abdomen, around your ribs, in your chest and the backs of your arms. Notice how the body aids the arms and chest while pushing away.
  • Be sure to extend your arms all the way, while leaving your shoulders back against the ribs.
  • For pushups from the knees, keep hips in line between knees and shoulders.

Save The Dates!

The SAR medical season is heating up. We need your support during a wide range of coming activities. Each of these events provides a unique opportunity to practice your medical, communication, navigation and search skills while getting to know your SAR teammates. There is also the opportunity to enjoy the festivities while being ready to help; most even include a free meal.

So mark these dates on your calendar now to be ready to sign up when spots open up. Details of each event will be released as the dates approach. Contact Bob Harrison, SAR medical sergeant, if you need more information right now.

SERT competition, Friday, June 28
The SERT competition is a competition between various law-enforcement agencies, primarily those involved with corrections. SAR members will be assigned with teams representing different agencies to lend support. Lunch will be provided along with possible shooting time at the range for all team members who participate. Contact Chris Retta to sign up now for this event.

Danville Fourth of July parade, Thursday, July 4
A hometown parade start 9 a.m. and ends at approximately 11:30 a.m. The parade currently draws 30,000 to 40,000 people, making it the largest single event in the Bay Area. SAR is there to provide medical assistance to the crowds.

Hot Summer Nights 1, Thursday, July 18
This event combines classic cars and camaraderie to create an evening of summer celebration. Downtown streets are lined with muscle cars, hot rods and vintage rides dating back to 1969 while live bands play '50s and '60s music. There are also food, drink and souvenir booths throughout, along with downtown shops and restaurants.

Hot Summer Nights 2, Thursday, August 15
A repeat performance of the event provides another opportunity to view old cars, listen to music and walk the downtown streets as described above.

El Sobrante Stroll, Sunday, September 15
This annual downtown event features a range of ethnic foods, live music from multiple bands of different styles, a variety of booths and shops along San Pablo Dam Road, a Kid Corral and a Grand Parade.

Mount Diablo Challenge, Sunday Oct. 6
This event is a 10.8-mile timed bike ride starting at Athenian School in Danville and climbing up Southgate Road 3,249 feet to the summit of Mount Diablo. One-thousand cycling enthusiasts compete in several categories. A ceremony is held at the summit with food and beverages for all. 

Lafayette Reservoir Run, Sunday Oct. 27
The Lafayette Reservoir Run is the city’s most popular “family affair,” involving kids, parents, grandparents and hundreds of serious runners from throughout the Bay Area. Over 2,000 participants compete in a 10k, 5k, or 2-mile race through the heart of the downtown, around the reservoir and back. Sprinters, walkers, the “stroller brigade” and many of Lafayette’s top four-legged residents share the streets that festive morning. 

Diablo Trail Adventure, Sunday Nov. 3
Save Mount Diablo hosts a fun series of races on the mountain: family hike, 5K, 10K, and half-marathon. The 5K, 10K and half-marathon will all begin and end at Castle Rock Park in Walnut Creek. The 50K is a point-to-point run beginning at Round Valley Regional Preserve and finishing at Castle Rock Park. It is challenging course with steep climbs, descents and creek crossings.

Bend from the hips

By Jeremiah Deesbend from the hips

Every time we exercise we start with hip bending. Our focus is to get our mobility established and this motor pattern dialed before adding load, speed and volume. Start with a very slow hip bend, described below. Move only within the range of motion your body will volunteer. As repetitions increase, you will notice two things happen:

  1. Additional range of motion becomes available all by itself.
  2. The motion is executed with more speed.

This is because your body is adapting to how you’ve decided to generate the movement. More importantly, your mechanics are now congruent with the human design. Your nerves are realizing there is no need for muscular guarding and as these mechanisms relax, your movement becomes more fluid.

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Place your hands on your hips so that you are holding the crests of your pelvis.
  • Take a deep breath into your belly, and then gather your abdomen as you exhale. Maintain this spine-stacked-on-pelvis relationship throughout the movement.
  • Shift your weight backwards, bending only from the hip. Your hip joints will move backwards in space and you should feel your pelvis tilting forward. You should also feel weighted through your heels, with little to no weight on the forward parts of your feet.
  • Keep bending until the backs of your thighs feel tight. There should be no tension in your back. If there is, then you’ve also bent your back.
  • Hang out here for a moment; literally, hang on your hamstrings. You are bending over without bending your knees and directing the majority of the load to the big muscles of your thighs and butt. This is how healthy bending becomes back injury prevention!
  • We are going to take our time getting back upright. Squeeze the muscles in the backs of your thighs and butt. Notice that as they shorten, your hips are levered back forward. Keep squeezing until your hips are underneath your shoulders.

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Training Recap: CoCoSAR Rope Rescue

photo (10)CoCoSAR team members gathered at Shell Ridge May 18 for the first of the four-part summer rope-rescue training program jointly hosted by the USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) and MRG (Mountain Rescue Group) resources.

Rope-rescue skills are an important component of Mountain Rescue and USAR training but are also extremely useful for the whole team's knowledge base. The rope rescue trainings have been designed for multiple levels and are open to all team members – from those new to rope rescue to seasoned veterans.

The May training split the group into three parts, each designed to challenge and expand team members' skills: advanced for those with technical rope know-how; intermediate for those who have had some rope rescue experience and want to take their skills to the next level; and basic for novices.