Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mount Harris after the leaves have fallen


Our map reading classes have only one more session on Mount Harris before the November deer season starts. We won't go into the woods, except right next to campus, next month. Too dangerous.

We'll be back, depending on how much snow, in December, for their final exams, a practical, in the woods, rain or shine.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Trainee Rangers and Wardens in the woods




Introduction to Conservation Law Enforcement is the first class in the Conservation Law Enforcement degree program. It has a "lab", which is really a land navigation training: Map, compass, and GPS, which I teach.

I love the October sessions on Mount Harris. Being "on the hill" with the students is good for my immortal soul. Watching students get totally and utterly lost in the woods makes me laugh.

These guys aren't lost. They found their point, the hidden overlook from Mount Harris to Howe's Pond.

For a fee, you can have the grid reference.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Call out report

Unity College SAR team was alerted by the MASAR duty officer at 3am Sunday morning to assist the Maine Warden's Service in the search for a missing 80 year old female in Brooklin, Maine.

Five college personnel responded. Public Safety officer Chris Miville provided assistance with vehicles, etc. The missing woman was found at first light by authorities. The team returned to UC by 9.20 am.

Although our numbers were low, we did perform our mission of getting to the Search HQ with sufficient trained, fit personnel and equipment, ready to assist the authorities with a search or a rescue.

A brief news report is available at http://www.wcsh6.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=93462&catid=2

Students that are members of the team are reminded that we are on call 24/7, even late on weekend nights. Please update your call out information with the team officers, including cell phone numbers, residence hall and off-campus phone numbers, and the building and number of your actual room so that officers of the team can find you when needed.

Team members responding were:

E. Buuck
A. Durgin
R. Burd
A Eldridge
M. Womersley


Mick Womersley, PhD
Associate Professor of Human Ecology
Director of Sustainability
Unity College
www.unity.edu/facultypages/womersley
www.unity.edu/sustainability
www.ucsustainability.blogspot.com

Friday, August 22, 2008

And we're off!

Term starts Monday. Students are filtering back. By Wednesday or Thursday we ought to be more or less able to respond to a call out again.

Some things we need to do right away:

1) Decide if we want to take on one or more rescue cover weekend for Baxter State Park before their season closes. See previous posts and emails for details. We have been invited to do so by park staff. This means accepting responsibility for handling emergency response, search, and evacuation from about 4pm Friday through 10pm Sunday, although you can usually leave earlier than that.

Almost all rescues in Baxter require technical and mountaineering skills and equipment.

Our trailer is also still at the Park, having been left there in spring when my private truck experienced technical difficulties. It's in good hands. The Park staff in charge of rescue were happy to have a back-up supply of gear, and promised to look after it and only use it in a dire emergency. But we need to retrieve the trailer anyway, which means someone is going up to the park, even if we decide not to have a weekend on rescue cover.

Tough duty.

2) Get a rough plan for how to commission our new SAR truck into service. Currently the truck is in the shop, but can be brought to campus soon. The plan was to garage it at the Sustainability House and equip it with the ready response gear from the trailer. I would like to suggest to the Team that this might be a good time to reconsider the purpose of the trailer. I think it might be better to equip it with emergency food and large scale camping gear so we have assets to help the authorities in a civil emergency, and be more self-sufficient on an extended call-out.

3) The usual chores: Meet incoming frosh and recruit. Begin weekly trainings. Review, maintain and order equipment. Maintain SOPs. Liaise with State authorities, public safety, communicate our role and mission to the college and the general public.

Monday, June 16, 2008

UCSAR on Katahdin





The Professor, the "Bairn" and Heavy all went to do rescue cover at the park for the weekend. We summited on Katahdin Saturday, and explored the west side on Sunday. A good weekend.

Our Saturday expedition proved to us again the old RAFMRS adage that the only way to train for the hill is to go on the hill. Katahdin is a long, steep, high mountain, and even the fittest youngsters have a hard time summoning the stamina for the ascent.

The need for a lot of scrambling and climbing on almost every way up or down doesn't help. A serious mountain.

Thanks to Rob, Stewart, Katie and the other park staff and rangers for the hospitality. We'll be back.

(Actually, we have to go back soon since we left our gear trailer there. But we will return with more troops in the early fall as well.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Heavy at YOSAR, Baxter SAR Cover

Heavy is continuing his adventures in American SAR with a fact-finding, fun-filled trip to Yosemite, where he will be hosted by YOSAR, the high angle experts, and the legendary John Dill. I will get the occasional postcard and publish it here for you guys to read.

In the meantime, let me confirm to you that our first summer SAR cover at Baxter State Park (that's Katahdin to youse from away) will be 13th to 15th June.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lockerbie in Peabody

Heavy will speak on Lockerbie in Tim's class today at 10am, room 3A.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rescue Expert in Residence....

Lots of students already have taken advantage of Heavy's extended stay (his next gig is at MASAR on the 3rd May) to have a conversation or walk with him. Feel free to go up and initiate a conversation about SAR or mountains or the beautiful spring weather -- I'm sure he'd enjoy it, and as we saw on Wednesday, he has had an amazing life, and reflected on his experiences a good deal.

You never know, you might learn something, and wasn't that what you came to college for?

Carpe diem.

Mick

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Heavy here today, gives talk tomorrow 7.30 pm UCPA

The Unity Centre for the Performing Arts is in downtown Unity off Depot Street. Come into town on 9/202, then turn left or right at the bronze moose, depending on whether you arrive from the east or the west.

Whatever you do, turn south. That's the important thing. Then look for the sign.

Mick




David “Heavy” Whalley, MBE BEM

“Heavy” Whalley was a member of the RAF from 1972 to December 2007. He has been involved with the RAF Mountain Rescue Service (MRS, or just MR) for 35 years. He has been Team Leader of RAF Leuchars and RAF Kinloss MR Teams in Scotland and Deputy Team Leader at RAF Valley MRT in North Wales. He was the Senior Team Leader on scene at the Lockerbie Air Disaster, and has been involved in over 1000 mountain rescues, and over 80 aircraft incidents in mountainous areas. Heavy spent the last four years as a Controller in the Rescue Coordination Centre at RAF Kinloss, giving him a unique insight into general rescue and emergency response organization in the UK. He has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland for over 20 years, also serving for 3 years as Chairman. He is now the Accident Statistician for this important national body. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for Service to Mountain Rescue by the Scottish Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland in 2002. He is also a recipient of the British Empire Medal (BEM) and a Member of the British Empire (MBE), both important UK national awards given for service to rescue. He was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for his service in the aftermath of the Lockerbie Air Disaster.

Heavy is also a consummate outdoorsman. Mountains and mountaineering are his life. Heavy has completed the Munros 7 times (all Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet are called “Munros” after the cartographer who first mapped them), once with his dog! He has also completed four traverses of the Scottish Highlands, two in winter. He has been on over 30 official expeditions, including to the European Alps, Iran, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Tibet, where he was the Base Camp Manager of the successful RAF MRS 2001 North East Ridge expedition to climb Mt. Everest. He especially enjoys winter climbing and has been winter climbing in Canada several times and has even practised this sport in the Falkland Islands while on tour there with the RAF. Scotland is his love and he particularly enjoys the islands, especially Skye and Rhum.

He is a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club, the Moray Mountaineering Club, the John Muir Trust, and the Mountain Bothies Association, and believes passionately in looking after our wilderness for the future and passing on his experience and love of the mountains and wilderness to others, especially young people. He is planning to join the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team in Feb 2008. He is now retired and hopes to write a book on his life and lecture on his experiences. Heavy lives in Burghead in Morayshire; he plays golf, enjoys watching football, practising photography, and he climbs or walks in the mountains at least twice a week!

Heavy is planning a US and Canadian lecture tour to cities and towns where there is strong interest on mountaineering, mountain rescue, and emergency response. He will give a slideshow of his photography relating to rescue and mountaineering in general, and talk about his mountain rescue and emergency response experiences. Heavy is an animated and passionate speaker, and his photography is superb. Tour dates are tentative, but roughly mid-April to mid June 2008. This is a not-for-profit tour intended to boost SAR, mountain rescue and mountain conservation in general. Tour venues will be asked to contribute to Heavy’s travel expenses, and to provide a night or two’s lodging.

Contact Mick for details

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Kenduskeag krunches kause khaos








Well, Ryan and Justin and I had fun as "fishers of men" (and women and small children) at the Kenduskeag race yesterday. Our original station was quite calm, but the cheers from the crowd, and eventually an order over the radio, drew us to a much busier station in the Kenduskeag Gorge. There was a nice three foot standing wave that was just a little wild for many paddlers. Every fourth or fifth boat went over. If you had flotation, you stood a chance, but most of the amateur boats filled with water and their paddlers were guaranteed a dunking.

A couple of leaderless kids from Dirigo's youth team had perched themselves on a precarious rock, and were handling the casualties manfully, although their operation was more physically demanding than they could handle, and the perch they chose basically guaranteed that one or both of them would be injured. Not a good choice of stance. We chose a nice beach further down, where we took turns to throw ropes and were able to bring in the swimmers with ease and comfort.

In the end, one of the rock-perched kids got exhausted from swimming after paddlers, and the other fell and cracked open the fluid sac in his knee and had to withdraw. Not before insulting us for our rope-throwing ability, which we found fairly hilarious, considering that he'd just managed to get himself injured by, basically, showing off for the crowd. If he'd just let the paddlers float by, they either came to shore, or we hauled them in safely and with little risk to ourselves.

The other kid was much more pleasant and modest a SAR colleague, and I actually saw him save a couple of young children who were in somewhat serious trouble.

We must have fished out 50-60 swimmers. We got wet and a little cold, but had no other problems. The "new" state surplus Ford 350 crew cab truck makes a great SAR truck, and will be an asset on a call-out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More on Baxter rescue cover for summer and fall


Maine Environmental News picture of a rescue in Baxter SP

I will be taking a trip to Baxter soon to begin coordinating with the park authorities. They are keen to have us help, but also need us to be fully prepared. This will be a good deal easier for us to manage in the fall, when we have a lot of students to draw on, than the summer, but I think we have to do our best to provide assistance in both seasons.

Part of the program may include one or more weekends where a group of us are on "rescue cover" for the weekend, based at the park.

Here's an older article that summarizes a summer of incidents. Be sure to read it and study the pictures. This new mission is much more oriented towards mountain rescue skills than the low-level, low angle search and rescue that is our usual fare. While I know what to do, I'm old and rusty. You guys are young and fit, but few of you know what to do. We have some work ahead of us.

http://www.meepi.org/files04/pa102504.htm

Monday, April 7, 2008

Summer and Fall: On call for Baxter State Park

SAR team members may be aware that the 126th Air National Guard based out of Bangor is going on deployment this year with their choppers. Accordingly, Baxter State Park Alpine Ranger Rob Tice alerted MASAR on Sunday April 6th at the regular meeting to be prepared for long strenuous carry-offs for some of the 30-50 SAR calls the park staff get every summer and fall. Ethan and I were both there to hear it.

That means us too. My best guess: we can expect between five and fifteen such calls between now and Christmas.

How many of you will be here this summer AND are physically and mentally prepared for this? I know my skills are good, but my hill fitness was certainly questionable the last time I climbed Katahdin. In the meantime I quit my desk job as Interim Provost and started daily walking and hill-walking to get back in shape. I think I can just about handle it.

The rest of you, if you want to be used, need to get organized. We can't take out-of-shape people on these calls. Heavy is here next week and the week after, and he and I can lead some hikes on Mt Harris and elsewhere. Look for alerts in the students@unity listserve.

Those of you planning to be in the neighborhood all summer, and willing to commit to regular fitness training and to monitor cell phones and home phones diligently, should contact me by email with cell and home numbers (both please) and your local addresses, and I'll put a summer scratch team together.

In the fall we will be looking to ramp this up a level yet.

Mick

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Heavy's slideshow, MASAR, River races, vehicle question

Lots of stuff to go over at SAR briefings Wednesday night the next few weeks. Charlie and the other officers will be leading discussions about the following:

Heavy Whalley speech/slideshow, 23rd April:
A reminder that this very storied rescue troop is coming to Unity College to give a Lapping Lecture at 7.30pm that night. Those of you who want to join me for dinner with Heavy before hand, email me. Click here to find out more about Heavy. He will be in the area for a few days and is available for some training exercises, possibly a spring High Angle, weather permitting, certainly a couple of navigation days, which I will set up with Charlie and announce closer to the time.

MASAR Spring Training, 3rd and 4th May:
We want a good turn-out for this training weekend, which will be at the positively palatial Schoodic Education and Research Center. Organized by Chris Weibusch, NPS Ranger at Acadia, an alum of the college. Details below. See Charlie to sign up

River Race Rescue Cover:
We are asked to provide trained SAR trrops to do rescue cover on traditional canoe races each spring. The Kenduskeag Race is the big one, on the 19th April. It's fun to stand on the bank and watch the punters fall in, especially when they're Unity students. Not so fun to go into the water (brrrr!) and pull them out and catch their boats. We generally take the SAR trailer and wet suits. But good PR and public service. One of the big services we provide is radio communication up and down the river. See Charlie to sign up

Vehicle Question:
A slow year for call-outs has left us money in our budget. We've been after our own vehicle for some time. I've proposed we use the money to get one. Debate this at this week's meeting. Show up to get the details from Charlie and have your say.

MASAR spring training details

10 March 2008

Spring 2008 MASAR Symposium

Saturday and Sunday, 3-4 May 2008

Hosted by Acadia National Park and
Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue

Location:

Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC)
Acadia National Park, Schoodic Peninsula, Winter Harbor, Maine


See accompanying map and driving directions. Further information about the
SERC facility may be found at:


General Schedule:

Indoor and outdoor classes all day Saturday, 3 May
Guest speaker Saturday night, 3 May
Indoor and outdoor classes Sunday morning, 4 May

Confirmed Courses Instructor
Effective Grid Searches Ed Pontbriand -Acadia National Park ranger
Man Tracking Ed Pontbriand - Acadia National Park ranger
Dealing with the Press Susan Farley -Channel 5 News Reporter
NIMS ICS-700 Chris Wiebusch -Acadia National Park ranger
Working With Search Dogs Maine Search and Rescue Dogs
Working With Mounted SAR Mid Maine Equestrian SAR
Practical Map and Compass Mick Womersley, Unity College
ICS -Communications and Plans David Whalley, Mountain Rescue Committee of
Scotland
Possible Course Topics Instructor
More Effective Search Techniques Not yet determined
Litter Raise And Lower Demo Not yet determined
Low Angle Litter Belay Not yet determined
Basic Individual Water Safety Not yet determined
Patient Packaging for Searchers Not yet determined
Communications Not yet determined
Two EMS Courses Not yet determined
Helicopters in SAR (1-2 Courses) Not yet determined



Housing

There are three on-site housing options:
Free camping is available in the campground and on the ball field. There are
restrooms located near both locations.
Beds in the bunk house are available for $15.00 per person per night. No bed
linens are provided, so you'll have to bring your own.
Private cabins and suites are available for $35.00 per person per night. Linen
service is included.

Horses can be kept at the ball field for the weekend.

Meals
Saturday lunch and dinner and Sunday breakfast and lunch will be available for
those who want them, but must be purchased in advance. The meal costs are:

Saturday lunch and dinner, and Sunday breakfast -$30.00 per person
Sunday lunch -$8.00 per person

Coffee, tea, and snacks will be available for all during the day. The cost for these is
included in the registration fee.

Program Cost
A $15.00 fee will be charged each attendee to help cover the facility use costs.

Guest Speaker
David Whalley of the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland will speak after
dinner on Saturday evening. He will present a slide show titled “Reflections On
Scottish Mountain Rescue And Mountaineering In The Last 40 Years”

Further information, including a detailed schedule and registration form, will be sent to
all units at the end of March.

Heavy's slides, MASAR Spring Training, River Races

Lots of stuff to go over at SAR briefings Wednesday night the next few weeks. Charlie and the other officers will be leading discussions about the following:

Heavy Whalley speech/slideshow, 23rd April:
A reminder that this very storied rescue troop is coming to Unity College to give a Lapping Lecture at 7.30pm that night. Those of you who want to join me for dinner with Heavy before hand, email me. Click here to find out more about Heavy. He will be in the area for a few days and is available for some training exercises, possibly a spring High Angle, weather permitting, certainly a couple of navigation days, which I will set up with Charlie and announce closer to the time.

MASAR Spring Training, 3rd and 4th May:
We want a good turn-out for this training weekend, which will be at the positively palatial Schoodic Education and Research Center. Organized by Chris Weibusch, NPS Ranger at Acadia, an alum of the college. Details below. See Charlie to sign up

River Race Rescue Cover:
We are asked to provide trained SAR trrops to do rescue cover on traditional canoe races each spring. The Kenduskeag Race is the big one, on the 19th April. It's fun to stand on the bank and watch the punters fall in, especially when they're Unity students. Not so fun to go into the water (brrrr!) and pull them out and catch their boats. We generally take the SAR trailer and wet suits. But good PR and public service. One of the big services we provide is radio communication up and down the river. See Charlie to sign up

Vehicle Question:
A slow year for call-outs has left us money in our budget. We've been after our own vehicle for some time. I've proposed we use the money to get one. Debate this at this week's meeting. Show up to get the details from Charlie and have your say.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Probable call-out for our friends at PJcountry

JJ Hensley
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 16, 2008 12:00 AM

The body of a fighter pilot whose plane went down in western Arizona on Friday was finally discovered Saturday afternoon.

The Air Force student pilot, assigned to the 62nd Fighter Squadron, was flying an F-16C fighter jet out of Luke Air Force Base when his plane crashed in a remote area about 12:15 p.m. Friday.

Air Force officials couldn't reveal much information at a Saturday afternoon news conference but did confirm the pilot was a 26-year-old man who was a couple of months into an 8-month F-16 flight-training course.

The pilot's name is being withheld until his family is notified.

"It's very difficult," said Brig. Gen. Tom Jones, the 56th Fighter Wing commander. "We are a very close-knit community, a very tight wing and organization."

A committee conducting a two-part investigation into the accident will convene immediately and take about 30 days to put together a report, Jones said.

The wreck occurred about 87 miles west of Phoenix, south of Alamo Lake, an area where Luke fighter pilots frequently train.

The terrain was so rugged that helicopters flew search crews in Friday night after the wreckage was discovered about 10:30 p.m.

Search crews from the Department of Public Safety, the Civil Air Patrol and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, among other agencies, combed the area Friday night and discovered some of the pilot's equipment but weren't able to locate his body until Saturday morning.

The body was discovered near the crash site, in a ravine in the Buckskin Mountains, but crews weren't able to tell if the pilot had attempted to eject from the plane before it crashed, Jones said.

The student-pilot was about halfway through a 90-minute training exercise, engaged in a mock dogfight with an instructor, when his plane crashed.

Air Force officials said training exercises would continue, but the results of the two-tiered investigation - one of which looks into fault-finding in the accident while the other looks at training safety - could influence future operations. The F-16's are worth about $20 million.

The latest fatal crash of a Luke-based jet also occurred during a routine training exercise, when Singapore Air Force 1st Lt. Brandon Loo went down south of the Barry M. Goldwater Range in May 2004.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Lovelace was part of that training mission and saw Loo's plane crash. Lovelace said he felt for the flight instructor who witnessed Friday's crash. "(It's) very difficult," he said. "Personal. Very personal."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More from the Chief

Good Evening,

At this weeks meeting we are going to go over how to use the GPS's and look at a couple slideshows on MASAR searching techniques. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Thanks,
Charlie Alves Chief UC Search & Rescue EX. 551

Anybody want to do a fund raiser?

One of my on-line SAR buddies let me know about this outfit, Camp Patriot, in Montana, close to where I used to live (and do rescue). They do outdoor activities for disabled vets, which sounds like a winner to me, and a great place for a UC Adventure Therapy internship. Aimee's dad is a disabled vet, and I'm getting stiffer every year, so you never know there.

Anyway, I though we could raise a little cash for them, maybe a t-shirt sale to coincide with Earth Day and the Eco-challenge. I'll talk to Charlie this afternoon. In the meantime, read the web page.

Mick

from the boss man

Search and Rescue
Meeting

Wednesday February 27, 2008
8:00pm in 1B2B


Charlie Alves
Chief
UC Search & Rescue
EX. 551

Monday, February 25, 2008

Letter from a prospective student

This might be helpful to other prospective students readers:

Hi Chris:

SAR is a student club, but it’s also a public service Maine SAR Association (MASAR) accredited team. It meets as a club most weeks while college is in session, and runs it’s own training. As the advisor, I participate by helping train students in SAR. Some of the training is curricular, such as the map-reading sessions that go with the introductory Conservation Law Enforcement class for freshmen. But most is on your own time.

The team gets called out between 3 and 6 times a year, whenever the state authorities need us for assistance on a search. As a result, students get experience in searching and rescue beyond their training. They also get to work with real casualties, and unfortunately the occasional body. Most team medics are trained to EMT Basic. Some are also ambulance staff with our local ambulance service. Others are part-time in the military or coastguard, as well as local fire departments and police forces.

There’s a team blog at http://ucsarmaine.blogspot.com/, which I maintain periodically, together with links to other rescues sites and a call-out log.

Charlie Alves (calves@unity.edu) is the team leader for the rest of this school year. I copied him on this email. The team leader and officers of the team are always students. He may also email you, or you can write him with questions.

Regards,

Mick


Mick Womersley, PhD
Associate Professor of Human Ecology
Director of Sustainability
Unity College

http://ucsustainability.blogspot.com/




On 2/24/08 6:25 PM, "chris f" wrote:

Hi Mr. Womersley, my name is Chris Froehly. I will be a freshman in the upcoming 08-09 school year. I found out that you are the advisor for Search and Rescue, and I am interested in participating in that. Can you send me some more information?

Thank you,
Chris F.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mud, glorious mud

Here in Maine we are on the verge of an early mud season -- it can't quite decide what it wants to do. Just blows your fitness regime away if what you like to do is hike. Right now we can't even snowshoe because of ice.

Major private plane air crash the other day. Right by the road, no SAR needed. Not pretty. Probably icing. When the plane went in the whole state was hunkered down for an ice storm. No-one with any sense was going anywhere.

They're still investigating.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Early equinoctal gales?

SAR services in UK very busy with force 10 gales, which if I remember right, means 70-80mph winds. Meanwhile, at home, last night's ice is melting fast.

Havoc as gales and blizzards hit Britain


· Mission to save sailor abandoned in Atlantic
· Up to 6,000 homes affected by power cuts

Martin Wainwright and Aidan Jones
Saturday February 2, 2008
The Guardian

Mountainous seas are threatening to sink four stranded ships after a series of dramatic rescues saw more than 40 crew and passengers winched to safety or taken off in lifeboats as gales swept over Britain.
Salvage crews are losing hope of righting the stricken ferry Riverdance, which ran aground off Blackpool, and the trawler Spinning Dale, which is wedged on rocks in one of the country's most sensitive marine nature reserves off the Scottish island of St Kilda.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

From da Boss

Good Morning Team,
At Wednesdays meeting we are going to be updating the roster. Please bring your extension and any other updated contact information. Also because some members of the team have class at our regular meeting time, please bring your schedules so we can discuss alternative meeting times. If you are not able to make the meeting, send me an email with days and times that are good for you.
Also I am looking for 2 or 3 people to help run a booth at club night on Wednesday. This runs from 5:30-7. Please email me if you are interested in helping for more info.

Thanks,

Charlie Alves Chief UC Search & Rescue EX. 551

Monday, January 21, 2008

Huntingdon Ravine claims another ice climber...

Climb turns tragic

By Andie Hannon http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif, Staff Writer
Monday, January 21, 2008