It is often under appreciated, that nearly half of the missions King County Search And Rescue teams take on each year, are conducted entirely in the urban areas. Of these, many are searches for people, both young and old, who suffer from dementia, and have wandered away from their loved ones. The family of one of these “walk aways”, recently posted an exceptional letter in the Mercer Island Reporter, which highlights the numerous actions and agencies that go into one of these searches.

Read the Mercer Island Reporter article at:

Jeanne Gustafson, freelance journalist, recently wrote a great piece on Seattle Mountain Rescue (SMR), in the Sammamish/Issaquah Several great photos accompany the article. SMR is one of eight independent units that make up King County Search And Rescue (KCSARA). SMR provides skill and experience in high angle rescues, and mountainous searches. In addition to their core services, SMR members participate in the entire gambit of missions KCSARA units undertake each year.

Read the article at:

The 2008-2009 avalanche season has begun in North America. On Sunday 7 snowmobilers were caught in an avalanche near Fernie, BC. 4 other snowmobilers heard the commotion and rushed to the aid, only to be caught by a second slide within the same path. Ultimately, 2 were able to dig themselves out, and pull a third free. The bodies of 8 others have been recovered, leaving 2 still unaccounted for.

Washington State joined BC the same day when a snowmobiler from Colville was caught in an avalanche near Harts Pass, in Okanogan County. His three fellow snowmobilers were able to locate the man with avalanche transceivers, and dig him out within the critical 15 minutes. But, the 24 year old was unable to be revived.

Avalanches account for 62% of all fatalities from natural disasters in Washington State. This might be because most fatale avalanches are triggered by their victims. Volcanos, Floods, Earthquakes, and Landslides, at least in the last moments, are capricious. But, studies show that avalanches, in most cases, provide clues before the fact. By no means should our beautiful winter backcountry be avoided for the sake of avalanche. But, people who plan to venture out should first: take a formal course in avalanche safety that includes both classroom and field sessions; be prepared with each individual carrying a shovel, probe, and avalanche transceiver; and remain flexible in their plans to minimize risk.

The KCSARA Picnic was this last Sunday at Vasa Park, on Lake Sammamish in Bellevue. An energetic crowd was there to “meet”, “eat”, and “compete”. We had setup a custom geocache, a litter team slalom course, and a potluck competition.

The geocache required participants to change their GPS’ datum and coordinate systems several times. The first and second waypoints were straight forward requiring a datum of WGS84 and a coordinate system of degrees, minutes, and decimal minutes. The third waypoint required switching the datum to NAD27. The fourth waypoint required switching back to WGS84, but changing the coordinate system to degrees and decimal degrees. And, the final cache required switching the coordinate system to UTM. Mark Allen of ESAR was the first to turn in a completed solution, but each team got two-points for each waypoint found after the first, by any member.

The litter team slalom course was hilarious to watch, and a lot of fun to participate in. We had setup a course with three legs. Each team consisted of three people and each person had to ride in the litter for one leg of the course. Only one attempt was voted as incomplete by the crowd. The best spill overall was when the front person running backwards in flip-flops, stumbled and summersaulted backwards. The “patient” was ejected forward, out of the litter, and of course landed on the flip-flop wearing “rescuer”. No one was injured of course, and the team reassembled to finish the route.

The potluck competition was stiff, and we had to promise anonymity to the judge. Pies, cakes, and salads were all submitted. A Chocolate Kailua cake made by Jeff Bird of 4×4 was the ultimate winner.

When all was said and done, the score was: SPART = 11, PNWT = 15, ESAR = 17, and 4×4 = 18. Congratulations to all!

A special thanks to Sandy Ball who organized the location, shopped for the food, transported everything to the site, and made sure the food was prepped and cook to perfection. Sandy has done this for many years, and we all really appreciate her dedication.

Correction to the Fall 2008 KCSARA Academy Registration forms. All classes that read “CPR/AED Refresher” should read “CPR/First Aid Refresher”. My apologies for the mix up and confusion this may have caused. Those that have already sent in their registrations *DO NOT* need to send in a new one.

Remember, registration forms can be downloaded from the KCSARA Academy page in the Training section of our website.

Be sure to visit this fabulous Blog Site appropriately named “Hiker Hell” which has stories on hiker accidents and rescues all over the world with photos and news links. Many are submitted by readers. They have started to include websites and logos for any SAR units that were involved and if you look at some recent ones you may see some logos from KCSARA units.

The website URL is:

Over four years ago, Brian read “Touching the Void” and he was always intrigued by situations hikers find themselves in and the incredible things they do to stay alive.
This blog is about learning from other people’s mistakes, so you don’t make the same ones.

“Better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat”

E-mail your Hiker Hell stories to:

I was saving this until later in the year, but with our recent weather it seems appropriate about now. I’m sure our weather will improve, but this is always good information…

We’ve seen immersion foot in patients before, and like the article says there isn’t much we can do to treat this in the field. However, since this is possibly even less known to our area’s doctors, recognizing this, and suggesting it on our patient worksheets, might help our patients after they leave our care.

From the article: “Most people don’t know this injury, because like I did last weekend, they go home at night. It’s the multi-day hikers, the soldiers and others who stay outdoors in wet and cold who are at risk.”

Read The Article

We’ve been informed that a comment period is now open, until August 2, on the USFS’s plan to “reopen” an official trail in the lower Pratt River drainage.

The USFS is soliciting comments on an environmental assessment (EA) which looks at reconstructing over 3-miles of the Lower Pratt River Trail #1035. Although portions of the trail can still be found, and have been used during missions in the Pratt Valley, the segment under consideration has not been maintained for over 40-years. The proposed project would reconstruct/relocate portions beginning at the Middle Fork Trailhead and continuing south to the confluence of the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers.

If you would like to see an official trail in place, please comment. Comments can be submitted through the mail, by fax, hand delivered, or emailed.

Read The Environmental Assessment

SPART is continuing it’s ongoing series of medical meetings on July 23rd @ 7:00 PM. Contact Randy Riggs if you know you’re going to be there, and he’ll include you in any updates.

SPART holds these meetings for anyone in KCSARA interested in patient care. They discuss news and issues that effect us all, share ideas and experience, and try to foster a feeling of family among all KCSARA care providers.

Location will be Bellevue Fire Station #1.

Snohomish County Search and Rescue is holding their annual picnic on July 26th, and KCSARA volunteers are invited! Sno-county reportedly fixes a great spread, and holds friendly competitions. If you’ve got the day free, grab the family and head North! The shindig begins at 11:00 AM, Saturday, July 26, and runs until “everyone goes home”.

  • When: Saturday, July 26, 2008 @ 11:00 AM
  • Where: Schwarzmiller Farm; located off of 4212 Schwarzmiller Road in Lake Stevens, WA.
  • What to Bring: Your favorite food dish (something to go with roast pork)
  • What else to bring: Swim wear; floatation devices (assuming the river is not running at over 5,000 cubic feet per second); base ball gear; other yard or outdoor games.


Visit our main website, and find out even more about the hundreds of volunteers who serve the citizens and guests of King County, Washington.

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