Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc. Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc.

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Newsletter

January 2013


The next meeting of the Tahoe Nordic Search And Rescue Team will be this Monday, January 7th at 6:30PM at the Granlibakken Resort's Ski Hut. 


Call me old school or a throwback but I kinda like my pager.  Yeah I know they're anachronisms and bulky but I think there are a few upsides.  Mine was broken for the last year and it didn't take long for me to realize it's value.  The first benefit I can think of is that, unlike a cell phone, nothing else sounds like a pager and you'll never miss it.  My pager is a little quirky in that it doesn't have a volume adjustment on the call out tone.  It's set to 11 all the time.  If I'm within a half mile of my pager when it goes off, I'll hear it.  The second benefit is that it gives me a head start on getting my act together.  The page goes out a bit before our dispatch starts making phone calls and I find this extra bit of time to be really helpful, especially living Truckee. 


A pager is also valuable when you go ski touring or sledding.  Many of you already know that cell phones and avalanche transceivers don't play well together.  It's well documented that electronic devices (cell phones, radios, headlamps, GPS's, etc.) adversely affect avy beacons.  This effect is greater on a searching beacon but the effect is still significant for a transmitting beacon.  (As a sidetone:  It's been noted by some manufacturer's that chairlifts can also generate background "noise" that can affect a searching transceiver.) If you bring your phone when you're wearing your avalanche transceiver, make sure it is off and at least 6 inches from your beacon (Some manufacturer's suggest 20 inches.  Consult your beacon manual for exact specs).  Slight tangent but my point is that if you go skiing, are wearing your beacon and have your phone off, you can still be notified if there is a call out.


I know pagers are being slowly phased out and I'm not expecting the team to get all retro and replace the team radios with the World War II style backpack radios you had to crank like a Model T to get started, but in this age of the Newest, Fastest and Shiniest, I wanted  to take a moment to appreciate something Old School, Tried and True.

Bil Foster (1959-2012)
Veteran Alpine Meadows ski patroller, Bill Foster, passed away on December 24th from injuries he sustained while conducting avalanche control on South Face off of Sherwood Chair.  Bill began patrolling at Northstar in 1981 and joined Alpine Meadows in 1987.  He was a founding member and head trainer of the mountain's avalanche dog rescue program.  Bill assisted the team with numerous searches over the years and his passing is a great loss to Alpine Meadows patrol and the community.


The Bill Foster Memorial Fund has been established with the Sierra Avalanche Center. The fund will honor Bill's memory in perpetuity, by supporting avalanche education programs. Donations can be made online at www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/donate


Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Ski Resorts have established a fund in loving memory of beloved ski patroller, Bill Foster. These donations will go directly toward naming a portion of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe's new animal shelter and saving the lives of thousands of homeless pets. Donations can be made online at www.hstt.org

Residential Search in Kings Beach
On  Wednesday, December 19th, a male described as depressed left a party on Speckled Ave. in Kings Beach.  He was headed to his girlfriend's house on Cambridge Ave. but never made it.  On Thursday at some point his friend's filed a missing persons report.  On Friday the sheriff's department pinged his cell phone and got a location between Park Ave. and Bend Ave. in Kings Beach.  The team was called out and five members responded to search the area of the ping.  Neither the MP or the cell phone was found in the area.  However, since the house the MP departed from backed to Forest Service land it was decided to search this area between Speckled and Cambridge.  During this phase of the search one searcher was unlucky enough to open his pants up on some barbed wire in the area. The MP was not found in this area either and the search was called off.   The missing person was located later that evening at the California Motel drinking beer, wrapping Christmas presents and practicing Christmas songs for caroling later that evening.

Missing 61 year old skier at Homewood
On Sunday, December 23rd, the team was called out for a missing skier at Homewood Mountain Resort.  Five searchers responded to the South Lodge where they met with the sheriff, the reporting party and the MP's friends and family.  He was last seen at 12:30PM and was scheduled to meet at the North Lodge for lunch at 1PM.  He only had twenty percent of his hearing and it was noted that it was going to be especially difficult to get his attention. 


The team talked with the head of ski patrol at the resort and one of the things the patrol director noted was that they had seen a track down near Quail Lake.  The team made the decision to go to the track first and then go up above to the last seen location.  Homewood provided a lift up in their snowcats.  Once the teams began skiing it became apparent that the track patrol had seen was a skier side stepping up the hill in very deep powder.  At first the sense was that this was someone else but as the team progressed up the hill through thick trees and brush, they became convinced that this "sidewinder" was their man.  The team kept pushing and in about 20 minutes they heard a voice.  It was the MP who had seen the headlamps and called out to the team.  The team skied to him, gave him some water and food and then prepped him for the descent back to the lodge where his friends and family waited.   As luck would have it, the team saw groomers that were headed up hill setting a path for the team to skin up, if they didn't find the MP in the Quail Lake area.  It was an easy traverse over the cats where everyone then had a nice corduroy run back to the lodge.  


Tahoe Nordic Festival
The Tahoe Nordic Festival has ben rescheduled for February 8-10.  This inaugural festival will be at Tahoe Cross Country Center and all events will be free and open to the public.  A full schedule of events is available at www.tahoenordicfestival.com.  The team will have a table at this event on February 9th.  Contact Paul Honeywell if you can help out on February 9th with what promises to be a great event.


Texting 9-1-1 by 2014?
The nation's four largest wireless carriers have agreed to accelerate the availability of text to 911, with major deployments expected as early as 2013 and a full commitment  to nationwide availability by May 15, 2014.  There have already been localized trials of this service and this agreement will accelerate the deployment nationwide.  In an effort to eliminate consumer confusion while text 911 capability is being phased in, the carriers have built in an automatic "bounce back" text message to notify consumers if their attempt to reach 911 via text message was unsuccessful because the service is not yet available in their area.  The text message would  instruct the recipient to make a voice call to their 911 center.


If you have any pictures from trainings, searches or any other team function or if you have an event you'd like highlighted in the newsletter, PM on the forum and I'll give you my email address if you don't already have it.
 

The goal of TNSAR is to conduct fast and safe rescues, and to help educate the public on winter safety. If you would like to help TNSAR in this cause, please use the following PayPal donate link. Thanks!

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