Saturday, March 18, 2017

2017 Winter Update

The temperatures have been brutally cold and they have also been unseasonably warm. The snow has been great and the snow has been less than great. Through it all the winter has remained fairly quiet from a search and rescue prospective. We have received six calls in the first three months of the year with most being cancelled due to the missing party finding themselves. To the all volunteer team at Big Sky Search and Rescue all calls are taken seriously. We are happy when a missing party meets us at the trailhead as they are safe and uninjured. When we receive a page for a backcountry rescue each member arrives at the BSSAR building with their packs and gear ready to go. The planning and preparation for each and every call is unique to that call but those two protocols happen with every call whether we hit the trail or not. Through it all we continue to train and keep our skills up to date. So far this winter we have trained with snowmobiles for patient extraction and area familarization. Some of the members attended a two day class on land navigation enhancing their mapping and GPS skills for searches and rescues. A upcoming multi-agency backcountry ski and snowmobile training will ensure that we are prepared to help all backcountry enthusiasts when things go wrong.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2016 Mid Year Report

After a slow start, 2016 is going to be a record year for BSSAR. With over 23 mission though September, the 27 member all volunteer team has been busy. August was by far the busiest month on record since the organization began providing support in the backcountry. So far this year it is horses 3 people 0. The most life threatening traumatic injuries so far this year was a result of a horse accident where the horse fell on the rider. The most serious medical emergency we dealt with required the team to spend the night with the patient because weather, terrain and the patient's condition did not allow for safe transport. Luckily the weather broke with the sun and a helicopter was able to get in to transport the patient to Bozeman. In both cases the patients made full recoveries.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Can Your Cell Phone Save You?

This summer we responded to three lost or stranded hikers. In all three cases GPS coordinates were either given to the 911 dispatcher by the lost/stranded party from their cell phone or the 911 dispatcher was able to ping the cell phone's coordinates via the cell phone towers. In all three cases the coordinates were completely worthless. They would have sent rescuers miles in the wrong direction. We used knowledge of the area and the last know location of the missing/stranded parties to determine were to begin our search.

Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 Mid Year Update

This year is turning out to be one of the busiest for the BSSAR team. Over 14 active missions have required the team use a variety of equipment and skills to provide help. We've had: 4 mission involving snowmobile of which 1 was a body recovery, 1 was lost and 2 were injuries. 1 mission involved 3 skiers caught in an avalanche in Beehive Basin with one skier being seriously injured.
1 mission involved a rock climber that found their rope was not quite long enough and tried to make it anyway. The decision resulted in substantial injuries. 2 mission involved kids that had gotten separated from their parents while hiking. 2 missions involved injured hikers within the Big Sky trail system. 1 mission involved 2 lost hikers in the Bear Basin area. 1 mission involved assisting West Yellowstone with a missing autistic camper. 1 mission for an injured ATV rider in the Bucks Ridge area. 1 mission for a flipped raft on the Gallatin River. Was cancelled after our team departed. Remember that the BSSAR team is made up of 33 volunteers that have jobs and families outside of the search and rescue world. When these calls come out the volunteers must drop what they are doing and respond to someone in distress. They train hard and are committed to making sure our community has the help they need when they need it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 2013 Update

This fall the Big Sky Search and Rescue team has continued to work on their skills while responding calls for rescues of injured people in the back-country. In September the Big Sky team held a joint training with the Gallatin Valley Search and Rescue team at Ousel Falls. The training focused on Kootenay Highline rescues which would be called into play should an injured party be located in a canyon and the most effective and efficient method of extraction would be up rather than down the canyon.

Ousel Falls Highline Training (BSSAR/GVSAR) from Chris Ebeling on Vimeo.

Over 25 people participated in the day long training where highline skills, communications, teamwork and problem solving were all enhanced. Teamwork, commitment and skill competency is what makes Big Sky Search and Rescue so powerful in their endeavors. In addition to the Kootenay highline training in September,
the Big Sky team held training on patient assessment; wound and hypothermia management and back-boarding. In October, the team held a rescue exercise for a injured person in the Kirchner Park area. This was a late night exercise where all the equipment was utilized, including navigation via GPS; Teton litter; suck sack; medical gear and lots of sweat. These types of exercises are quite valuable to ensure the Big Sky team is familiar with the equipment and prepared to use it in any situation.

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 2013 Update

With nine (9) missions completed as of August 3rd this year is shaping up to be a busy year for the team. Along with these missions the Big Sky Search and Rescue (BSSAR) team members have also completed eight (8) training sessions as well as an eight (8) day Wilderness First Responder Course. This is a completely volunteer organization and the team has dedicated a minimum of twenty-five (25) days so far in 2013 to the mission of BSSAR. To ensure that the team is prepared to handle a variety of backcountry emergencies the team trains monthly on a variety of skills. So far this year the team has trained on: Operating within a crime scene; Swift Water Rescue; Mock Lone Lake Rescue with snowmobiles and skiers; Low Angle Rescue in conjunction with the Big Sky Fire Department; GPS training and geocache; Mission and radio protocol. In addition to the monthly training, several of the team completed an eight (8) day course to certify or re-certify as Wilderness First Responders (WFR). The course is conducted by Wilderness Medical Associates International and is designed to give those certified the principals and skills to handle medical emergencies in backcountry settings that may find the patient hours if not days from advanced medical care facilities. The majority of the BSSAR team are certified WFRs. All the training ensures that when BSSAR is called to assist in a rescue that it can be completed safely and effectively. BSSAR is a not-for-profit community organization staffed by a dedicated group of volunteers. When called out through the Gallatin County Dispatch Center (911) we provide our expertise and equipment under the direction of an Incident Commander; usually a Sheriff's Deputy. In Montana the Sheriff's Department is responsible for all backcountry rescues. BSSAR is one part of several Gallatin County SAR Teams. Our primary response area is the Gallatin and Madison Ranges of southwest Montana. We frequently assist other Gallatin and Madison County teams, and they help us. We also assist other agencies and counties when requested.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 2013 Update

The BSSAR building is located next to the Big Sky Community Park behind the Water Treatment Plant. This location provides the BSSAR team with the advantages of a centralize location to:

Stage and coordinate missions

Store equipment

Hold training

The BSSAR team is equipped to monitor mission at this site with the use of various voice and visual communications methods. Members of the BSSAR team have a variety of skills necessary for backcounty rescues such as:

High Alpine Rope and Rigging for Rescue

Swift Water

Helicopter Operations

Snowmobile, Backcountry and Alpine Skiing

Wilderness First Responder and Emergency Medical Training

Each month the BSSAR team meets and conducts training on the use of the equipment by simulating various search and rescue scenarios. This way the team is prepared to react quickly and professionally when called upon.