Saturday, October 16, 2010

Finding the overlook

Here's a successful coursework assignment: Our Intro to CLE map readers find the Mt Harris overlook.

There's no trail to this beauty spot, just a deer run in the woods, and you only know you're there when you look up and can see the pond. The students get only an eight-figure UTM grid reference, and must find it by pacing and using bearings and orienteering.

Some groups find it the first try. Others need to come back the next class and find it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Earl says "Take me seriously"

As a practicing human ecologist, I'm used to denial. These last few hours are an example, as I listen to people talk lightly about the hurricane. It doesn't help matters that most hurricanes that hit Maine the last few years were pretty much little squibbles of their former selves by the time they got here.

Earl, however, is a serious storm, and it will hit Maine. If it has even a portion of its current energy and scale, and if it hits the Bay of Fundy as precisely as expected, we are going to see some very difficult weather Friday night, and traveling Friday and Saturday may become dangerous.

All the State EMA resources are on standby, including the Unity College SAR Team, so I'll be staying close to the phone through Saturday morning. Most other people should stay home too and hunker down.

Travelers are just going to add to the difficulties that the various emergency services face, and may even put rescuers at risk.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Earl-y start

Unity College SAR Team is back on call, the students having arrived over the weekend.

And the weather is possibly going to be interesting during the first full weekend of the college term, what with a hurricane coming and all.

Maine doesn't usually get such terrible hurricane winds, but we do often get some very heavy rain and flooding.

Last year we had a call-out for a missing person during the first serious hurricane of the season.

That was a fairly wet weekend!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

That others may live...

The PJs have been busy in Alaska:

First there was the Twin Otter crash that killed former Senator Stevens and four others, then there was what sounds like an epic call out for a small plane on a glacier near Anchorage:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring 2010 UCSAR activities

On Wednesday, February 3 & 10th, the team practiced winter survival techniques. The training included fire building, shelter building, how to dress properly for searching in the winter, and how to outfit your ready pack for winter survival.

On Wednesday, February 17th, Dale Rowley, Waldo County EMA director taught a HAZMAT Awareness course to UCSAR at Unity College.

On Wednesday, February 27th, UCSAR and the Unity College Outing Club went on a snowshoeing trip in Acadia National Park.

On Saturday, March 27th, Fred Porter of Isleboro Public Safety taught a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) course to members of UCSAR & Unity Fire Dept at Unity College.

On Saturday, April 10th and Sunday, April 11th, UCSAR hosted a BASAR course. Participating teams included Wilderness Rescue Team, Waldo County Search & Rescue, Dirigo Search & Rescue, Mid Maine Equestrian Search & Rescue, and Unity College Search & Rescue. Course instructors were Sgt. Jon Blagdon, ME Warden Service, Michelle Fleury, ME State Police Crime Laboratory, Jim Bridge, ME Search & Rescue Dogs, Mick Womersley, Unity College, and Roger David, Lincoln County Search & Rescue. The two day course covered topics such as navigation, survival, search operations and tactics, helicopter operations, and other relevant search & rescue topics. This course is part of the MASAR Ground Searcher Certification curriculum.

On Saturday, April 17th, UCSAR provided rescue swimming services at the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race in Bangor, ME. This year over 470 canoers and kayakers participated in the race. With extremely low water levels, there were only a few participants who needed rescue services. UCSAR would like to thank team leader James and David Martin of Dirigo Search & Rescue for coordinating rescue services during the event. The link to the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race website is:

UCSAR will be hosting their annual Car Smash fundraiser on Friday, April 30th at Unity College. All proceeds are donated to the Regional Volunteer Food Pantry in Unity. Prices for the event are: $1 for three hits, $5 dollars for a full minute, $5 dollars for any side window, $10 dollars for either front or rear windshields. The event will start at 10am, and will be held at the Unity College gym parking lot.

Gunner the wonder lab retrieving a lost canoe paddle during the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baxter State Park winter high angle SAR

Members from Lincoln SAR, MDI SAR & Unity College SAR spent the last weekend in January in Baxter State Park, providing SAR coverage, as well as practicing high angle SAR techniques.

Baxter Park Rangers transported us and our gear 17 mi into the park by snowmobile to the Roaring Brook trailhead. From there, we snowshoed approximately 3.3 mi to the Chimney Pond Ranger Station. We stayed at one of the cabins at Chimney Pond. The view of Katahdin from Chimney Pond was spectacular.

We awoke early each morning and hiked across Chimney Pond, climbing up the south side of Katahdin. High angle lowering techniques based upon the Technical Rescue Riggers Guide by Rick Lipke were practiced. This consisted of two lines-a belay line and a safety. Both lines were anchored into ice. building steep angle lowering anchors in snow was also practiced.
One of the funnest, but most scariest moments of the training, was practicing self-rescue techniques with an alpine axe on the ice. We were tied into a safety line, but for someone sliding down a steep, icy mountain side for the first time, having to rely on an alpine axe to stop sliding, it was quite the adrenaline rush.
During our 3 day training period, we also practiced avalanche rescue techniques, patient packaging, and learned how the incident command system works during SAR incidents in the park.

The hike up Katahdin was strenuous, but we were awarded with an amazing view of Chimney pond, Hammond Ridge, and Katahdin Peak. Temperatures were well below zero, and 50mph winds wipped through the mountainside the entire weekend.

Unfortunately, my camera froze the second day into the training, so these photos are of the first two days only. I am hoping to receive more to add to this post in the near future.