November 2023

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Three Fingers Mountain Rescue

November 10, 2023

Press release from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office: On June 17 around 9:30 p.m., our on-call Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator was paged for a mission in the area of Three Fingers. It was reported that three distressed hikers were stuck in thick fog and rain, about two miles from the lookout. There was a significant amount of snow on the ground, and the hikers were not equipped for overnight sheltering. Cell service was sporadic but available enough for our SAR coordinator to call and talk to the reporting party. The three hikers were siblings in their 20’s who traveled here from out of state. They were wet and very cold. They described almost sliding down a heavily snowed area with a steep slope and stated they could not make it back due to the conditions. They had sleeping bags with them, but no shelter to protect them. Due to the damaged bridge and washout on FS-41, SAR ground teams had to use E-bikes and quads through the first 8 miles just to reach the trailhead. The ground teams then had to hike up 7 miles to reach the three siblings who needed help. It took the first hasty team […]

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Flowing Lake Weekend Event and “Where the Rope Ends” Film Premier

On the first weekend in October, that one that felt more like summer than summer, SCVSAR had the opportunity to host several out-of-county teams for a weekend of training.  Oftentimes, search and rescue teams do not get the chance to practice working together or sharing resources unless it is during a mass emergency that requires this level of participation. What an advantage to have spent three days in an enriched learning environment with the ability to focus on this collaborative goal. New skill sets were developed, enhanced understanding of team capabilities could be acknowledged, questions were presented so that problems could be solved, and some epic storytelling by the fire also took place. We hope to build on this type of training for an annual event, as we learned far more than we imagined. The first weekend in October also kicked-off the premier of Where The Rope Ends, a documentary film about Nichole Doane’s life and her lifesaving rescue by SCVSAR. Where The Rope Endsis now officially launched and will be viewed at upcoming film festivals and, most importantly, at local SAR organizations as a community fundraising event. SCVSAR will be sharing the documentary with our community in the Spring of 2024 […]

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Unpaid Professionals:  It’s not what we do; it’s WHY we do it!

Why spend hours equivalent to a part time job…without the pay?  Why spend untold hundreds and thousands of dollars on your own equipment, training, vehicle wear and tear, and missed work (shhh…don’t tell the boss). Why miss family events? Let’s not forget about the lost sleep from being called out at 02:00 or from laying there awake in bed because you’re unable to respond and praying for a successful outcome, waiting for the message “Subject located alive and well”. Why would someone volunteer to put themselves, their families, career and friendships through this?  Simply put, it’s in the SAR motto: ‘That Others May Live’. It’s on our patches, vehicles, and part of our logo. It’s even tattooed on more than a few volunteers!  Those four words encapsulate enough to write a book. It’s the volunteer who shows up for the missing Alzheimer’s subject because, at one time, they experienced it for themselves with a family member. It’s the volunteer who is a parent, who responds to the missing calls for a missing child. The hiker who went up the same trail the day before and now is carrying out a patient with a broken leg on a dark, rainy night. It’s […]

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2023 Terry Tibke Award Recipient

This award was created in honor of Terry Tibke, a dedicated SCVSAR volunteer in the 1960s and 70s, who set the bar very high, and was always there for every mission and all the training, mentoring, and equipment upkeep. While in his prime of life and SAR volunteering, Terry tragically was stricken with cancer and passed away. At that time, SCVSAR created this award in his honor and memory for our volunteers to recognize a person, a team, or an organization, each year whom we honor for their outstanding contribution to SCVSAR. The 2023 Tibke Award recipient, with 23 years of service to SCVSAR, is Eric Lembke!   Eric has always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie.  In high school, he started in explorer search while residing in Virginia.  After joining the Navy, he was transferred to Washington State in 1999 and joined SCVSAR in October of 2000. Eric is adaptable and always ready to learn new skills.  He has participated in countless roles in SAR, from the rigging team and swift water rescue team to K9 Field Support.  Eric is currently the president of the SCVSAR Marysville Unit, and with experience having taught EMT’s and Navy SAR Rescue Techs, he […]

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Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) Team

Uncrewed Aircraft Systems are integral to search and rescue missions. Becoming more prevalent in teams worldwide, UAS can search high consequence areas, where safety risks generally preclude searcher access.  They also can maintain safety overwatch during higher risk evolutions, providing real time intelligence for multiple personnel to view at once.   The systems’ stamina in extreme heat or cold also proves to be an asset as they can continue to search in conditions that fatigue or decrease human ability to maintain a high level of searching.  Sometimes just changing the visual perspective in a search, a UAS can be the difference between life or death.   These devices are more than just a bird’s eye view from a 400 foot altitude.  They provide visual and thermal imaging, loudspeaker capabilities for voice checks with a missing subject, illuminate dark areas with intense spotlights and can fly in just about any circumstance.  UAS have also become essential with their ability to deliver communication devices and safety equipment; and they have the added capacity to run safety lines across ravines/canyons to help set up a rope rescue system. UAS require licensed pilots and operate within the FAA regulations, guidelines, and permissions.  With their high demand, […]

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2023 President’s Letter

What would be your response if your life were saved, or the life of a loved one? For the three siblings rescued this summer from Three Fingers Mountain, it was pure joy (they most likely would not have survived if they had to wait another day). For the families of multiple Alzheimer’s and Dementia walkaways found this year (and every year), relief and thankfulness. Nichole Doane’s “thank you SCVSAR for saving my life” has been expressed in the hundreds of hours she and filmmaker Baylee Sinner have put into the recently released documentary film, Where the Rope Ends. SCVSAR volunteers attend monthly meetings with their “home” Unit: Alderwood, Everett Mountain Rescue Unit (EMRU), Explorer (ages 14-18), Marysville, Operations Support Unit (OSU), or Snohomish. We need field qualified personnel to go on missions; one of our most common missions is a “pack out” of an injured hiker from any one of our very popular trails. We need motivated field qualified personnel to be trained for special operations units and teams, such as EMRU (technical & snow mountain rescue), the Swiftwater Rescue Team (SRT), the K-9, 4 x 4 and Tracking Teams, and the Helicopter Rescue Team (HRT). As the article talks […]

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