Challenging Weekend SAR Mission for CCRS

Below is a press release issued by Clay County Rescue Squad Missions Coordinator Brian Andrews regarding a search and rescue mission that occurred over the weekend:

11 Mar 2017 SAR Mission-At approximately 6:17 PM, CCRS Operations Officer Brian Andrews received a first call from Clay County E-911 about two lost male hikers. They had headed in from Cave Creek Trail Head and were en route to the Pinhoti to continue out to their pickup location.

The hikers made entrance at Cave Creek Trailhead

At a point on the Cave Creek trail before reaching the connector, they got off trail and were unable to find their way back. They continued downhill until they realized they were not going to hit a road or find their way out. They were prepared except for cold and rain, which was not forecast to this degree. The hikers called 911 with very little battery life left and this was their best choice. It allows us to get a GPS fix of some kind off their phone.

CCRS members were paged out for a Search and Rescue and were headed to gather equipment and personnel immediately. This is a situation we run into frequently where weather conditions can be a life-threatening event.

Upon arrival at the staging area, crews were sent in on 4-wheelers by road to a closer location, then by foot the remaining 3/4 mile. The terrain they were going to have to cover was very rough even on a nice day. Tonight was going to be much worse in cold, wind, and steady rain. Especially with it being a several hours event at minimum. Upon arrival to the end of the road trek, they started their hike in on foot. The terrain was bad enough it took nearly two hours to reach them on foot. Once verbal contact was made, it was only a few minutes later they were reached.

CCRS set up staging area at Nubbin Creek Rd and Watts Rd intersection

During this time, the crew at the staging area was making arrangements to get side by side UTV’s in there with additional crews to get everyone out quicker. The access did not allow full size vehicles in there. All parties in the woods were completely drenched and getting cramps due to conditions. This is hypothermic conditions and we must be very careful and quick. It’s one thing to hike rough in nice weather, it’s another to do it in 41 degrees (and dropping) while carrying equipment and supplies completely wet. Time estimates showed the first crew was going to reach an access road shortly with the hikers.

A second crew was sent in to retrieve equipment and the crew to exit the woods. The first crew and hikers needed to be placed on UTV’s with windshields to protect them from the cold and rain on the way out and the fresh second crew would bring out 4 wheelers and assist with any medical conditions that may arise.

The crews in the woods advised they were headed out as a group and to get all the vehicles warm and the ambulance ready. Everyone coming out was going to need somewhere warm to get in immediately. The crews and hikers were provided additional sweatshirts and blankets and checked out medically. Afterwards, the hikers were transported to meet up with their ride back home and CCRS members headed back to put up equipment and go back home.

This mission lasted about 9 hours total from first call to completion. We would like to thank Clay County Sheriff’s Office and several local individuals for various help and supplies they provided, including use of equipment. Again, another successful mission with a great outcome even though it was tougher than most. Like we always say, we can’t do this without the support of the community.

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