A Day in the Life of a Type 1 Rookie

By Paul Healypaul healy

I have been on the CoCo SAR team since 2010, but didn’t become a Type 1 member until this August.

Below are some Type 1 rookie musings from the second Type 1 search I attended, which was on October 5. With me were John Banuelos, Natalie Zensius, Chris Coelho and Mark Whiting.

(Some sanitized four-letter words here replace the ones actually in my head.)

1930 on Sunday: Our company has finally gone and now it’s time for some recliner and TV-watching. I’m exhausted; I feel too old for three-day weekends with the boys. Ten minutes later, my cell phone goes off and I see “000 000 0000” on the screen. Oh, crap!

The remote voice tells me: “15-year-old hunter missing in Mendocino County, due back at 1000.

CP at 0900 Grizzly Flats Hwy 162 and M-1. Type 1 for yes, 2 for no.”

Hmm, all right, what’s on the agenda for tomorrow? My boss may be pissed, but my work can wait. I need to be at OES, ready to leave at 0300; need to go through my 24-hour pack and pull and prep for 72. Damn, I need to get to bed.

0200: The alarm goes off.

0255: I arrive at OES.

Oh crap!  I’m late; they are packed and ready; 0300 means leave not meet.

0310: We leave OES. It’s a six-hour ride and I’m wondering where we’re going. Coehlo? Never heard of it.

0700:  The sun is rising over the valley, 20 miles inland from Hwy 101 and we have 17 more miles on this gravel ridge road to the top.

0830: After a scary journey, we reach our destination at CP.

0835: Operations is ready for us with our assignments.

Let’s get moving!

0845: Briefing. We’re told the young man was to be hunting in this area. The place last seen (PLS) is shown to us on the map. We get his picture; the kid is a TV “Survivalist” fan and we’re told to expect him to travel down a drainage to the river. Our assignment is to search the Thatcher Creek drainage as far as possible, returning at 1600. One of our team was to work with the CARDA handler up stream while the rest of us headed down stream. Our best route to our search area is to travel on fire roads to meet up with ATVs for further travel.

We get our maps and are sent off with a “Good luck.”

0945: We call CP as we get stopped–the fire road we’ve been traveling on is no longer a road. There are four concrete/metal barriers across a washed-out trail.

0950: We communicate with the ATV team via radio to let them know our position in relationship to theirs.

0955: CP tells us that attempts to come pick us up by ATV will not work as they have barriers at their end, too.

1010: CP tells us to meet the helicopter at Grizzly Camp for transport.

1020: We arrive at Grizzly Flat and look for parking.

Yikes is that the family? Can’t park here … how about along the road over there?

1100: We board the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s helicopter.

Damn nice ride, what a view. Hope all the pot growers don’t think we are searching for them and start shooting.

1115: We start our search assignment. Have some snacks. Orient map; start tracks.

Damn, comms won’t work in this part of canyon.

“Let’s go. Paul you got right, Natalie center, I’ll get the left,” Chris says.

1125: Oh crap, was that a print I just stepped on? Good, here is another one … could these be his?

“Chris, Nat, check this out. Let’s get Baneulos before he heads upstream. There are more down here.” CP wants us to stay with the original plan, but keep aware of more prints if they continue in our search area.

1338: We hear the news: Subject found, all teams return to CP; we make our way back to the landing zone to await our helicopter ride out.

1415: Full barbecue, smiles all around.

1436: Getting ready to head home when we see a couple of vans ahead. The people inside are all waving and smiling.

Of course, it must be the family. That’s why we do this.

2046: Back at OES. Clean up and put all the gear away. Sign out and in the car; home in 25…