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Janice Small Brethauer, 1953 – 2016,

One of Our Own, So Dearly Missed !

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IMAGINE FOR A MOMENT   .   .   .

“You’ve reached the river after descending its steep canyon.  Your medical team moves along the riverbank weaving through thickets and over boulder fields, trying to reach a firefighter who collapsed early in the afternoon.  It’s 12 AM.  Ashes from the wildfire are hot underfoot, embers pulsate in every direction.  Tree limbs reduced to small torches burn along the blackened hulls of their host trees which stand perilously on charred stumps.  A firefighter looks at you as you pass, her face soot-smudged and drawn from the grueling work and from worry for her friend.  His vital signs continue to worsen.

Evacuation up the side of the canyon will take hours.  Your route must zig zag to manage the steep grade, adding distance to the trip.  The heavy litter will be passed hand over hand across areas with unstable footing.  Bouldered sections require rope rigging.  A scout plans the best way to the top, and he’ll remove felled limbs and rock debris from the path so the evacuation is safer and faster.  The better alternative, a night rescue helicopter, is on another urgent mission.”

.   .   .   JOINING US

This scenario sounds a bit dramatic, but it is a true story.  To manage these situations, team leaders rely on training, technical equipment and improvisation.  When you’re deep in difficult wilderness terrain, these are your greatest assets.

As a volunteer arm of the Sheriff’s Department, Search & Rescue is the first response team for lost or injured persons in off-road and wilderness areas of Calaveras County.  Our team is trained for high-angle, swift-water and avalanche rescue.  We deploy in every type of weather and in the most difficult terrain environments.  As you may have guessed, we must maintain a very diverse set of skills.

.   .   .   SAVING A LIFE

If you enjoy the outdoors and like the physical demands of back-country travel, join us by becoming a member.  Your enthusiasm is really all that we require.  We’ll teach you the skills.  Prefer a support role?  We’ve got the job for you.

You can also help save lives by becoming a donor.  Donor support is the backbone of our first response effort.  No matter what you give, your support means so very much to us and those we rescue.  Since our team does all its own fund-raising, your donated dollars go directly toward needed training and equipment.

“The Fire Hawk helicopter arrives from Los Angeles with night-lights.  Your patient is stable and talking easily, anxious for evacuation.  It’s now 4 AM.  A paramedic lowers by tether to help package and evacuate the firefighter.  As he hovers overhead, intense rotor wind from the helicopter stokes dormant embers and whips them into tornado-like whirls, creating the look of a battlefield.  You secure the patient for the hoist to the hovering aircraft.”

After a short stay in the hospital, the firefighter made a full recovery.  Help us ensure that all rescue stories have a happy ending.  Become a member or donor; Contact Us or Donate today.

Don Dornell
President, Calaveras County Search & Rescue

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