Summer Is Here


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

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.

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.

EMR In Action, ctd.

Team member Kristl Bulurun witnessed a cycling accident in Walnut Creek after picking up her son from school:

"A 40-something y.o. female was cycling and went over her handle bars. I and two other witnesses in separate cars pulled over to assist. As soon as I got out of my car, I announced myself as someone with medical training and asked if I could help (got consent!). Also, I had my medical kit in hand as I've always got my gear in my car. 

The subject was initially disoriented and at first said no, but she was pretty banged up and bleeding from her hand and face, so I convinced her that I could help. She said she was a nurse so she kept saying she was fine, but we all know how that goes. Anyway, one witness helped direct traffic and I asked the other witness to assist and hold c-spine while also holding the gauze to her face where she was bleeding (I gave the witness a pair of gloves to put on). The witness' daughter called 911.

I then determined A&O (she was x4) and CMSTP. I also did a modified head to toe, but didn't want to take her helmet off in case she ended up having a neck injury. She only complained of shoulder pain, but I checked for broken bones anyway.

Paramedics & ambulance showed up in about 5 minutes; after giving them an update on the subject, they took over and I stood back.

As the paramedics were working on her, another gentleman who had stopped to help started talking to me and asked what happened. I gave him the rundown and then he asked, "So, are you a nurse?" I replied, "No, I'm with Search and Rescue and trained as a first responder." So then he says, "Oh… search and rescue where?", to which I said, "Contra Costa County", to which he replied, "Oh really? I'm with Contra Costa County, too… I'm the Under Sheriff"


So yes, I was observed by the Under Sheriff. He asked me how long I'd been on the team and I told him not long, but that we just completed our EMR training, so I was glad that it all kicked in. Funny thing he asked was "so… you carry your medical kit in your car???" I said, "Yeah, all my gear is there… you never know when a we'll get a callout."

And he said, "Yeah, you guys are a great team."

OMG. I am soooo glad I did not know who he was until I was done. OH THE PRESSURE!! He was so super nice though. Chatted for a little bit more until the police officer on scene needed a statement.

Anyway, he left after a little bit (he had lights on, so that's when I really knew it was the Under Sheriff). Once they got her on the stretcher, I gave a statement to the officer, said goodbye to the subject, thanked the EMTs & the witnesses, and then left.

I have been hoping for a situation to use my EMR skills (I know… it's a sickness), so this was quite exciting. Plus having the Under Sheriff there really beats all.

The thing is… it's clear to me that it's all because of the training. The importance of those 4 months of EMR and the medical training last Saturday really became clear today. Everything kicked in like clockwork (although I'm sure I forgot something really important). 

So thank you for all our training. Thank you to the entire team for all our training. This situation was so crazy to have been a part of, but I'm so grateful for the skills and the confidence to have done it. "


Who Saved Scooby Doo?

Search and rescue is not limited to just humans. Jack Peabody and Dennis Lane rendered aid to a 70-plus-pound Samoyed at the Diablo Trails Challenge on April 20. 

An elderly woman hiked out on the Old Finley trail. She approached Jack and Dennis, and stated that she needed help with her 11-year-old Samoyed dog. He was unable to move and she hoped they could help. Without hesitation, they grabbed a tarp, water and a fanny pack. They hiked roughly a mile or more to their four-legged subject. 

Fellow team members were a bit surprised to see them both return sans the dog. In short, the dog was too big and heavy to carry with just a tarp. However, being resourceful CoCoSAR members, they grabbed a stokes carrier, plus backboard, then requested transport aid from an event coordinator. In no time at all the pair had the dog back at the medical station, resting comfortably. When the owner came by with her car, Jack and Dennis helped the woman place the dog carefully in her car. 

A large thank you card was sent to 50 Glacier with a present. CoCoSAR was thanked for its rescue of Scooby Doo. Jack and Dennis were later identified as the “kind and compassionate” members that had rendered assistance. 

Shhh! Don’t tell them that the present was a delicious box of See’s candy. Somehow the box was consumed at the May 1 Command Staff and team meetings. 

When you see Jack and Dennis, be sure to compliment them on their actions. Others of us may have to also thank them for the chocolate treats.


EMR in Action, ctd.

Team member Mikel Kinser was at home, where his wife was hosting a couple’s baby shower for one of her coworkers:

“I was outside when I heard a loud crash and my wife yelled from inside for help. I ran inside and found one of her guests prone on the floor next to a chair that had fallen over. My wife said she fell over after saying she was dizzy and had asked for a glass of water.

Her head hit the ground hard and she lost consciousness for a moment. I told my wife to call 911. As the guest started to come around, I began speaking to her, asking her questions. She was A&OX3, not knowing what happened to her, but did know her name, where she was, and what day it was. I also took her pulse and respiration. I began feeding this information to my wife, who was on the phone with 911.

She also had a large bump on her head where she hit the ground, but no blood. She had free motion with her head and neck so I did not feel there was any spinal or neck injury. I checked her eyes for PERRL and all was good. I kept her on the ground where I found her, and checked with her for comfort (warm or cold). Paramedics arrived within five minutes of the call and took over. I relayed the info again to them: patient name, what happened and patient vitals. From there I just observed the five emergency workers. They did an EKG on her (normal) but they did find that when she stood up her BP dropped a lot. She refused transport, and I had to sign as a witness.

She remained at our house until a friend of hers could come and pick her up. We told the friend to keep an eye on her as she had hit her head and could have a concussion. She returned the next day for her car and was fine except for the bump.

Looking back on it, I felt calm going through the steps, but could have done better (I had a BP cuff in my office and I did not think about it until later). I also did not do CMSTP, which I should have. I feel worse for the things I did not do than good about what I did do, because I know from my EMR training what is supposed to be done. I can see that continued exposure to this is the only way to stay on top of it and do it correctly.”

Major Medical Training: Moulage and Volunteer Subjects Still Needed

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 8.53.43 AMIn preparation for our annual major medical full-team training in May, we need your help.

1. We still need more volunteer role players.  Please pass along the volunteer flyer to your friends, family, neighborhood group and any other community group you think might have interested takers–book clubs, Rotary, Kiwanis, school groups, etc.

2. We need a few team members to help Catrina apply moulage to our willing volunteers.  If you have a knack for make-up and/or simply like the idea of creating gory injuries, please email Caroline Thomas Jacobs and Catrina Christian.

We have a great round of stations planned, including some new twists and look forward to seeing everyone out there!

EMR in Action, ctd.

Today, after pulling an all-nighter for last night’s search, team member Wilma Murray was trying to shake the cobwebs by taking her dog for a walk when she was suddenly called upon to exercise her medical skills:

“We came upon a group of men converged on the sidewalk. They were gathered around a young man who sat (in a rather crumpled position) up against a retaining wall. 

The men were asking him if he was all right and what they could do for him. As I approached, I was told one of the men had seen him sitting there an hour before and when he returned, the young man was still in place. I asked the subject a few questions and getting no response, I took a closer look. His eyeballs were rapidly flickering and he was clearly in distress. I asked one of the men to call 9-1-1, asked another to please hold my dog's leash and explained I was trained in first aid. 

I bent down to the subject's level and introduced myself. My request for consent was met with a vague noise I took to be affirmative. I had no gloves with me (lesson learned), so I had to barehand it. I continued to try to get a response from him and was able, after repeated tries, to get his first and last names. His pulse was 120, respiration 24, forehead cold and clammy but face very hot. But it was the lack of awareness and the rapidly moving eyeballs that most concerned me. 

I saw no visible mechanism of injury or blood and did not conduct a head to toe (another lesson learned) as I instead busied myself with trying to get him comfortable leaning against me while trying to elicit information from him. One of the men handed me a bottle of water and I was able to get the subject to sip a few times. When help arrived, I gave the responders the subject's name, his vitals and told them what I had observed. 

It took six strong men to lift this very thin young man onto a stretcher.  The subject then began to seize and they had to strap him down before loading him into the ambulance. I have no idea if he will be all right, but I can only hope.

Once again, SAR training proved invaluable, but I was made painfully aware of how easy it is to make mistakes or not be thorough enough in a real-life situation. It only encourages me to practice, practice, practice. The good news is that my training kept me calm throughout the whole experience. Thank you SAR!”