Mission Summary, April

April 2nd
The Hasty Squad received a call on the evening of April 2 and team members were sent to the San Pablo/El Sobrante area where they began a hood-of-the-car search for a mentally challenged 59-year-old male who had left a group home a few hours earlier. The search was conducted from a small parking area, mostly with driving routes, although there was one dog team sent out on foot right away.
The subject was found, safe, by an AMR ambulance crew not far from Doctor’s Hospital, within a few hours of mobilization.

Reminder: Team Participation Requirements

We have an excellent Full Team Training coming up in May, so it's a good time to remind everyone of the Minimum Participation Requirements each team member must meet by the end of the year to maintain their team membership.

  • Each Team Member must attend & participate in at least 6 of the 12 (5 if you are active in an official SAR Resource) Full Team Trainings. We have 8 left in the year.
  • We all must log at least 120 hours as well by year’s end.
  • Lastly, we each must show participation in some Full Team and/or Hasty Searches. We realize that Call Outs have been on the light side so far this year, but by the end of year each team member should be able to attend at least one search at the minimum.

SAR Participation Requirements are here for very good reasons–mostly for your safety and the safety of your team members you are in the field with. Thank you for your membership on the team and your service to your community. Let Walter Eichinger know if you have any questions!

Logistics Promotions

Josh Israel has been promoted to sergeant and Ed Griffith to corporal on the Logistics Division. Josh has been part of the Logistics group for two years and has done an outstanding job as a corporal. Ed Griffith has been with the team for short period of time and has shown great knowledge and enthusiasm for logistics.

Please congratulate Josh and Ed on their promotions.

Mission Summary, March

During the month of March, there were two callouts, but only one became a search.

March 9th
The team was preparing to leave for Brentwood to look for a Danville woman who was considered at risk, but the woman was found shortly after the call went out to the team.

March 16th
The full team was called for a mutual-aid search in Lake County. The subject was a missing 12-year-old last seen the morning of March 14. CoCoSAR was asked to join the third operational period.

The original search was on Cobb Mountain, but after purported sightings, the search had been expanded to Lakeport and Kelseyville. Forty-one searchers from CoCoSAR were on scene. Some were sent to Cobb Mountain, while others conducted an urban search, handing out flyers door to door.            

CoCoSAR was handed the management of the entire search for that period, which meant managing over 100 searchers. Marin County took responsibility for one division and CoCoSAR the other.         

Communications were very difficult and the search was logistically challenging, but it went smoothly. After several hours, the girl turned up at her brother’s home in Santa Rosa.

Team Commendations, March 2013

Command Staff is pleased to recognize five SAR Team members for exemplary service for the month of March.

Diane Blue and Anita Thede are recognized for their overall work with team fundraising and, in particular, the recent St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser. Diane and Anita not only participated in the event, but also planned and coordinated the SAR effort. Their work has helped bring much-needed funds to the SAR Team so we may continue our work!

For their “above and beyond” work in proctoring our current EMR class, Command Staff is pleased to recognize Catrina Christian, Laura Hubbard and Mike McMillan. Not only have they provided excellent proctor help during class hours, each has spent additional time at OES helping students with extra study sessions during non-class days/hours. The EMR students and instructors really appreciate this and the team as a whole benefits, as well.


Open Logistics Division Lieutenant Position

CoCoSAR Command Staff is soliciting a volunteer Logistics lieutenant.To be considered for this open position, send an email stating:

  1. Why you would like to have this job.
  2. What experience and/or skills you will bring to this position
  3. What would some of your new division’s goals and objectives be for the remainder of the year.

The Logistics Division insures that all team equipment and vehicles are operationally ready for deployment. This is accomplished through periodic inventory checks and scheduled rehabilitation. At searches, Logistics Division personnel help to set up the CP, issue and recover equipment from field teams and generally work to ensure that Operations has the tools necessary to accomplish the mission. This is a highly visible position that touches every resource and division on the team.

Core responsibilities

  • Supervise and manage a dedicated and talented Logistics Division staff
  • Be the subject matter expert regarding Logistics processes and policies
  • Prepare the annual Logistics budget
  • Prepare annual goals and objectives for the division
  • Track and manage the gear and equipment inventory
  • Ensure periodic maintenance and rehab work is performed on equipment
  • Ensure that SAR rolling stock is mission-ready
  • Coordinate the cross Resource and Division logistics working group
  • Supervise the Communications and IT groups
  • Supervise the SAR store (t-shirt and polo shirt sales)
  • Work collaboratively with the rest of the Command Staff to accomplish team goals and chart the direction of the team
  • Serve on the board of our nonprofit corporation
  • Act as a liaison with other agencies as necessary

We would prefer that any applicants have at least one year of service on the team and some staff experience as a sergeant, corporal or contributing member of a staff working group. Call or email Bryan Walley to discuss this opportunity. We encourage you to volunteer for this vitally important Command Staff position.

Update: Chris Retta has been appointed to the Logistics Lieutenant position on the Command Staff. He was selected as the successful candidate due to his past contributions to the Logistics Division and to the team, his plans for the future for the Logistics Division, and his skills that made him an excellent candidate for this job. Congratulations Chris!

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.

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.

Honoring Fellow SAR Members

The talent and dedication that this team exhibits on a daily basis is amazing. In 2012, over 41,000 hours of service was contributed by the team. These hours represent recruiting members for, training in preparation of, and responding to searches.  We call it dedication to mission – the “mission.”
It was in honor of the mission that we gathered together for the Sheriff’s Volunteer Services Banquet Feb. 15. At this event individuals from each of the units within Volunteer Services were recognized for individual achievement in their respective units. 
I had the honor of presenting several SAR members in their respective categories. While SAR is a team effort and we do not do this for individual accolades, with that said, we took the time to honor some deserving team members this year.
For me this is the toughest decision we make all year. The Command Staff reviewed and discussed over a dozen worthy individuals. All members considered in their own right could be, and should be recognized. Unfortunately we are limited in this situation. Next month we will be recognizing those members who received nominations and give them their due recognition.


SAR Explorer(s) of the Year

There was no way that we could have recognized one of the “Rescue Twins” and not the other this year. Casey and Micheal Riggs are the Co-Explorers of the Year. This is well-deserved recognition. The Rescue Twins participated in the most searches by the Explorers and contributed the most hours among the Explorers. Explorer Advisor Walt Eichinger writes, “They have positive spirit, they’re always eager to help and they have a strong desire to learn new things.”
Their participation in all aspects of the team is commendable. They attended 11 of 12 team trainings, numerous medical details, completed 80 hours of first responder training, proctored trainings and mentored new Explorers.  Additionally, they are training to be certified in USAR and the Type 1 resource. Their participation in all aspects of the team is commendable. The Riggs led all other Explorers in hours (Casey 491 Michael 483). The Rescue Twins are well deserving of the 2012 SAR Explorers of the Year.


2012 SAR Rookie of the Year

Ed Griffith has been selected as the SAR Rookie of the Year by his peers on the team. Ed graduated with the 2011 SAR Academy after retiring as a sergeant with the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office in 2010 after a 20-plus-year career.  Ed wasn’t ready for the life of golf and bridge clubs, so he sought out the team as the perfect service-oriented group for his background. (That and I think his wife Suzy needed to get him out of the house.)

From the start, Ed made a great impression on the team. His background and experience has been a huge plus for the unit. Ed’s quiet professionalism becomes readily apparent the more interaction you have with him. Whatever you ask of him, he’s willing to do to help out. Ed played a huge role in the 2012 SAR Academy acting as the Academy corporal. In this role he mentored, cajoled and sometimes “urged” students towards success. His dedication to the mission in his short time with the team makes him SAR Rookie of the Year.



SAR Member(s) of the Year


As has been the tradition in the past few years, we were able to select two members as SAR Member(s) of the Year. With over 200 people on the team and the incredible work put in by everyone this past year, I’d like to thank Wilma Murray and Tim Murphy for their great service this year.

Tim Murphy
Tim joined the team in 2010 with his fiancée Laura Carmody. From the beginning, Tim hit the ground running and hasn’t looked back. He was last year’s SAR Rookie of the Year. In 2012, Tim attended all 12 out of 12 monthly team trainings. He contributed over 800 hours of service to the SAR Team. And on top of this, when he’s not doing SAR, he also volunteers with the Sheriff’s Dive Team.
One of Tim’s primary focuses on the team is as one of the leaders of the Team’s Urban Search and Rescue Resource. This is a dedicated sub group on the team training for disaster response in preparation for when the “big one” hits. While there are several key people that make the USAR resource successful, Tim is an integral component. Tim has learned his craft and cross trained with local fire departments and he brings these skills back to train others on the team.  He consistently steps up and helps at various team trainings. When something needs to get done, he’s there to lend a hand.
If all this was not enough to keep Tim busy, in the past few months Tim embarked on training a canine to do search and rescue work. This is a huge commitment and once his training is completed, he will add another incredible resource to the team. Tim is always willing to lend a hand and to come in to OES on a moment’s notice and ensure our equipment is ready. His positive attitude, contribution to the mission and willingness to serve makes him a great SAR Member of the Year.
Wilma Murray
Wilma occasionally questions whether she has what it takes to perform what is expected of a SAR member … which I think is her way of disarming you. She is one of the most active members on the team. She, too, joined SAR out of the 2010 Academy along with her husband Paul and has made her mark on the team. (The 2010 academy produced some great members.) Not only is Wilma a fixture responding to searches, she participates in the USAR, man-tracking and metal detector resources. In 2012, she contributed over 600 hours of service to the team. 
Wilma is a key player in shaping the SAR team’s future. She currently helps run our new member recruiting and helps manage our monthly new member orientations. In addition, she plays a huge role in our coaching program, allowing our new volunteers to be actively engaged with team veterans to ensure they successfully integrate onto the team. Her drive to continue the growth of the team through quality new members is exemplary and demonstrates her commitment. 
Wilma is also the team’s recording secretary and resident newsletter editor and article enforcer. (She hounded me for two weeks for this month’s article … but I didn’t want her to get the scoop on this award!)
Two instances this year on searches show me how, even though she questions whether she is a SAR operator, she really is. Early in the year we conducted a very extensive search in Crockett for a despondent gentleman. Late in the day, one of our teams found the subject’s body inside a drain pipe with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Everyone was tired and facing the less-than-thrilling idea of a body recovery.
In preparation of fielding a recovery team, I asked the members on stand-by at the CP who could stick around and assist the coroner with the recovery. Wilma was the first to raise her hand and volunteer. It’s one thing to volunteer to search, it’s another to volunteer to bag a decomposing body and carry it out of a ravine. Like the others that volunteered, Wilma was an operator and helped us complete the task.
The other example was on New Year’s Eve a little over a month ago as we assisted Marin County with the search and eventual rescue of a wayward hiker on Mt. Tamalpais. The terrain was brutal and the victim had severe hypothermia. Getting to the victim was no easy task. Once the gentleman was packaged in the rescue litter, it took four-and-a-half hours to carry him out to where an ambulance could take him to the hospital. There was no way to airlift him out and there was no defined trail to on which to extricate him. It was all bushwhacking over very steep terrain.
This patient carry out was epic and required multiple rope raising and lowering systems, as well as good-old-fashioned manpower to hand carry the victim to safety. Wilma was there every step of the way. She was so focused on the extraction that near the end of the carryout a tree stump jumped out and tripped her and she went *** over tea kettle off the trail and landed in a blackberry bramble below. Not injured, she shook herself off, climbed back onto the trail and continued assisting with the carryout. If she ever doubted she is an operator, that night should give her the confidence to know she is.
Wilma, Tim the recognition of SAR Member of the Year is well deserved for both of you. Congratulations.


Special mention goes to SAR team members Andy Comly, who received the Reserve Deputy of the Year award, and Ed Molascon, who received the Volunteer Services Volunteer of the Year.  Both are incredibly dedicated and though their first home is SAR, have made great contributions to the Sheriff's Volunteer Program as a whole.
I want to thank everyone on the team for a great year of service and I look forward to working with you throughout 2013.