Slow and Steady

patrick walkerBy Patrick Walker

Early on a misty June morning in Redwood Regional Park, in the hills between Oakland and Moraga, my dad and I were running ahead of the pack on a 20-mile run with my Boy Scout troop. This annual run helps us train for a summer High Sierra backpacking trek.

We were about 12 miles along and passing through a grove of ancient redwoods, quiet and still in the fog, when I noticed in the distance someone hunched on the side of the trail. It didn’t look right.

As I drew closer, I saw a person sitting with legs crossed, his head bowed and hidden inside a cinched hoodie. My SAR instincts and training immediately took over. I stopped a few feet away and asked him if he was OK. He did not respond. I spoke louder and authoritatively. “Sir, are you okay?”  He shook his head.

I asked him to remove his hoodie so I could see him and with slow, deliberate movements he obeyed my request. He was a Caucasian male in his mid-20s, unshaven and bewildered.

 “Can you talk?” I asked. He responded with a scarcely audible, “I think so.”

“Are you hurting?”

“I’m cold. Very cold.”

I asked how long he had been there. He said he came to the park the night before to “clear his head,” became disoriented when it grew dark and lost his way. He wandered in the night and eventually gave up trying to find his way back to his car and eventually found a place to sit down. He had endured a very cold and lonely night and was shivering, hungry, cramping up and confused.

I told him I have had medical training and could help him. For the first time, he looked up and offered a slight smile.

I asked if anyone would have reported him missing. With a touch of melancholy he said, “No one is expecting me back except my boss.”

I asked him to stand up. He was cold and stiff.

A couple of miles away was a Cub Scout camp where I knew they had fire, food and warmth.

“Can you walk?”

“I can try.”

Slowly, we began our trek. After a while, we passed members of my Boy Scout troop running along the path. They were surprised to see me going the opposite way. I told them that I was taking a break from the run to help someone. When I encountered the leader of the troop, he said, “Geez, Patrick, you find lost people even when you’re not looking for them!”

Our journey was painstakingly slow as he clearly was not well physically and maybe mentally. I was glad my dad was with me because I’m not sure I would have been comfortable alone with him. I suspected drugs or alcohol may have been an issue and he could have been suicidal.

As we walked slowly beneath the redwoods, he spoke. He said he felt lucky that we found him, and he said he appreciated our helping him. He asked my name and said his was Jeremy (name changed for privacy).

A half-hour later we made it to the Cub Scout camp. The troop had a fire blazing, hot chocolate and hot food, and the Scouts were generous in sharing it with Jeremy. I left him there with my dad, and then ran several miles further on to where a ranger lived. After explaining the circumstances and Jeremy’s current status, the ranger said he would take over and transport him to medical treatment.

I returned to the camp and Jeremy was seated by the campfire with a cup of hot chocolate, now warmed up, even smiling. We said our goodbyes and I rejoined the 20-mile run.

I was now in last place instead of first, but I knew that what I was able to do for a fellow human being – thanks to my training and experience on COCOSAR – was far more important than winning a race.

The 2014 Type III Academy

It is that time of the year where the OES shines with bright and unblemished orange t-shirts proudly stating, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue. 31 students make up the Class of 2014, 24 adults and 7 cadets. And like those that came before them the cycle of SAR education begins again: Navigation, knots, first aid, search tactics, etc. After two weeks these students reinforce their commitment to reach Type III status at each new Academy session. Type II status is certainly already on their minds.

On the Type III hike these 31 students gained their first feel of a 20 lb. pack, a hike covering street and rough terrain, and a mission to find clues. But they were not alone. Our CoCoSAR 100 (Team members that volunteer to be of service to the Academy) were there. 41 Team veterans attended the Type III hike. Every one of them was there to support these 31 students. 

To date 69 Team members have added their names to this year’s roll of the 2014 CoCoSAR 100. Thank you one and all

John P Banuelos
Academy SAR Sergeant
Servio in comitatu heroes
I serve in the company of heroes.

A Great Result

- Article from MercuryNews.com

Luba Lusherovich, 77, was found in the Norris Canyon area after 185 search and rescue personnel from nine counties converged on San Ramon to help find her.
Lusherovich walked away from her family's home near Bollinger Canyon Road and Marsh Drive, and efforts to find her grew more urgent as the days passed.

Kelsey Lusherovich, Luba Lusherovich's granddaughter-in-law, said the family was notified that the elderly relative had been found and that she was taken to a hospital to be evaluated but is expected to be OK. The younger woman said the older woman was conscious and talking, but dehydrated.

"I'm ecstatic; frankly, this is a miracle," she said. "She had no food, no money, no water … I don't know how much more miraculous it could get."

San Ramon police Sgt. Hollis Tong said she was found near a creek on Norris Canyon Road. Search and rescue dogs from the California Rescue Dogs Association first found a shoe, then a piece of clothing.

The handlers notified the command post at 2:15 p.m. that the dogs had picked up her scent and followed it to a house, where they found her, conscious and smiling, Tong said.

It was Ammo's first find, said handler Sonya Roth of her yellow Labrador retriever. "I was so excited I was shaking when we found her," Roth said. "That thrill … that's why we do this. Ammo may have saved her life."

Search-and-rescue crews from Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, Marin, Sonoma, Solano, San Mateo, Napa and Sacramento counties concentrated their search Saturday near the hilly area of Norris Canyon Road, near Castro Valley, and near the family home, Tong said.

There had been concerns that Lusherovich, a friendly European immigrant who once helped to teach kindergartners in Walnut Creek and Pleasanton, may have left the area, even though she left home without money. She also was without her medications, Tong said.

A police officer saw her on Norris Canyon Road as it heads toward Castro Valley around 2 p.m. Wednesday, but police had not yet been notified that Lusherovich was missing.

Police grew more worried as the days ticked by without finding her. More than 100 civilian volunteers came out Saturday to help search. "Everyone from all walks of life came out to find Luba," Tong said. "Time was of the essence."