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Fall 2018 – President’s Letter

October 31, 2018

From January through September of 2018, Snohomish County Volunteer Search & Rescue members have been called out on 111 missions amounting to 16,754 hours of volunteer community service. We are 100% volunteers; we have no staff and not one of our members is paid. We are reaching out to you because we cannot do this alone. We need your financial support. With your help, we will replace specialized safety equipment to keep our rescuers safe in steep terrain. With your help, we will be able to repair our specialized hoist system on the rescue helicopter so that we can give aid to critically injured persons in hazardous wilderness areas. With your help, we will continue to support advanced training to improve our search and rescue skills. With your help, we will be better prepared to save lives. Take a moment right now to send a generous contribution of $50, $100 or more to help us save lives. We are not a government agency – we are primarily funded by people like you! Your help makes you part of our lifesaving team! Please consider establishing a legacy endowment to provide enduring support to SCVSAR – so “That Others May Live!” Sincerely […]

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Spring 2018 – President’s Letter

May 4, 2018

We’ve had major changes for Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue with personnel movement in the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office SAR leadership since the last newsletter. With the retirement of Sergeant Danny Wikstrom and the career move of Sergeant Scot Fenter, Sergeant John Adams will be picking up the reins. These changes were the first in a very long time and brought out a variety of emotions. As with any change in circumstances, our SAR volunteers masterfully reviewed the situation, addressed any concerns, and became resolute in our support of the decisions these fine men made. Amidst all of the change and recognition of service, there was a lingering feeling of loss that was so eloquently addressed by Mike Loney, one of our senior and very sage members. As many members were lamenting loss, Mike spoke of how we are to carry on by recognizing what has been given to us by the experiences we’ve had, the support we’ve been provided, the friendship, and the camaraderie. I invite you to read Mike’s tribute and to remember that you, our public support, are also a big part of what makes Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue what it is. Each time you […]

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Meet our New SAR Sargent, John Q. Adams

Sgt. John Q. Adams has been with the Snohomish County Sheriff since he left the U.S. Marine Corps in 1996. John served 10 years as a patrol deputy in South Snohomish County and was promoted to Master Patrol Deputy while there. He has served in Property Crimes, as a member of SWAT and as a Dive Team member. He is also a member of Everett Mountain Rescue. John has a strong interest in the wilderness of Snohomish County and began preparing to apply for the SAR Sargent position before it was open. He went on a few missions to get to know how SAR operated, learn policies and be ready when the job opened. This year our SAR Sargent for the last 22+ years, Sgt. Danny Wikstrom, retired. Sgt. Adams was ready and applied for the position. He received his appointment to SAR Sargent in February and is ready just in time for the 2018 rescue season. We look forward to working with Sgt. Adams!

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One Donation Can Make All the Difference

  Since our founding more than 50 years ago, the generosity of donors has allowed us to continue our mission to bring home the lost and missing. Donations to SCVSAR are made for many reasons. Maybe it’s because we’ve rescued a love one stranded on a mountain; you find the work we do to be worth supporting; or you are looking for a way to make a difference. Perhaps you’ve thought about making a charitable gift to us but you aren’t able to afford it right now. Virtually everyone has the power to give a gift larger than he or she ever dreamed possible. A bequest can be made through a will or trust. Or, it can simply be made by listing SCVSAR as a beneficiary of a bank account, IRA, life insurance policy, company retirement plan, pension, annuity or other instrument that allows you to designate funds to a beneficiary. Leaving a bequest through your will or trust is easy using simple language as follows (always check with your attorney to be sure that you have the appropriate legal advice): “I give X dollars or X percent or all of the residue of my estate to Snohomish County Volunteer […]

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SAR Sgt. Danny Wikstrom, A Life of Service

On March 24, 2018, several hundred friends and colleagues came together to honor and recognize Sgt. Danny Wikstrom and his many years of service to our community. Here is just some of his story, along with a very moving tribute from a long-time search and rescue volunteer. Danny was raised in Sequim, WA and he joined the Sheriff Explorers there at age 14. At 18 years of age he became a dispatcher and reserve police officer with the Sequim Police Dept. One day his friend and fellow officer said he was going to take the exam to apply to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office for work. He said Danny should come along and apply as well. Danny asked, “Where is Snohomish County?” His friend said near Everett. Then Danny asked, “Where is Everett?” and his friend said near Seattle. Off they both went to take the exam, and both were hired. Now 35 years later Danny is retiring from law enforcement, with about 21+ of those years spent with Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue. It would take a book to tell you about Danny’s career with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. We will take editorial license and condense it. […]

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My Mountain Rescue

October 30, 2017

  Along with three friends, all of us but one, retired physicians, I hiked into the Enchantments via the Snow Creek route where we spent the night at one of the lower lakes in the area. We awoke to a beautiful morning and decided to hike up Little Annapurna, choosing a route off trail which appeared to be an easy hike. As we walked along, boulder to boulder, I misjudged a step onto a rock in a shadow, made even darker by the sunglasses I was wearing. The rock had more of an angle than I realized and was still wet from the morning dew. I fell forward with my left leg completely extended, catching it on a rock about a foot below. I felt a pop, and it was then, that I knew I wasn’t walking out of there. At this point the pain was manageable but I couldn’t bend my leg. We all had two bars on our cell phones but we couldn’t call out. Peter took all the cell phones and hiked to the ridge top for better reception. In the meantime, Gary hiked back to camp and brought my equipment up in case we had to […]

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Our New Food Truck

  In late 2016 we came to the conclusion that our aging food truck wasn’t going to last much longer. Our volunteers depend on the food truck when we are out on long missions – there is nothing better than coming off the mountain cold and wet and having a warm meal ready! Once we figured out what a replacement was going to cost we started our fundraising efforts. And thanks to many of you the new truck will soon be operational! A big boost came when Taco Time Northwest donated a Food Truck body that we could rework and reconfigure for our needs. That was followed by many generous donations from individuals in the community. Grant support has also been a vital component and we are grateful to the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Contribution Funds Program and The Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Charitable Foundation for their significant contributions to making the truck a reality. By the time we send out our next newsletter, the truck should be fully operational. Stay tuned for pictures when it is all done!

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Meet Our Swiftwater Rescue Team

Among our other technical rescue specialties, SAR has a dedicated team that is trained and equipped to perform searches and rescues in our hazardous water environments. Waterways in Snohomish County are scenic destinations that offer excellent recreation opportunity, and are critical to the environment. But water features can be as dangerous as they are magnificent. The Snohomish County SAR Swiftwater Rescue Team is trained and equipped to accomplish search missions and conduct rescue missions in, around and under our area waterways: • Puget Sound shoreline and tidal areas • Arterial river systems (locally Skykomish, Snohomish, Stillaguamish & Sauk) • Dozens of large and hundreds of smaller tributaries • Frontcountry and backcountry lakes in their hundreds • Technical watercourse/waterfall terrain (typically involving rope access & transport) Like other elements of Search & Rescue, Swiftwater Rescue is on call 24/7. The Swiftwater Rescue Team is made up entirely of volunteers who dedicate considerable time and effort to being well trained and equipped so that we can perform our rescue mission when called upon to help others in our community. In addition, our team is a critical component of area emergency response during flood conditions. The nature of water rescue is that we […]

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Fall 2017 – President’s Letter

Randy Fay, Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue President While we are still actively engaged in the 2017 rescue season, I have been reflecting on the year to date. We started off at a frantic pace as the late snow melt created problems for climbers and hikers anxious to get into the mountains and this resulted in many rescues. From mid-season until now we have had an unsettling number of tragedies to deal with in water related accidents. Now we face the transition into our Fall and Winter outdoor activities seasons. Time for all of us to lay out our gear and start advanced planning related to the hazards and challenges that the colder weather will bring to the surface. It is more important than ever to carry your 10 essentials plus. Hypothermia is our greatest enemy in the cold and wet weather of the northwest and is a strong contributor to having a worse outcome in an emergency. Please plan carefully and prudently. SCVSAR will be well prepared to help should you encounter unexpected difficulties. Our teams are constantly training for the challenges that each season brings. Enjoy the Fall season in the mountains and stay safe.

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What were you doing on Mother’s Day 2016?

April 13, 2017

On a mild Saturday afternoon in May of 2016, a group of teens embarked on a day-hike to Blanca Lake, in the remote Cascade Mountains.  As they hiked up the steep trail they had no way of knowing that one of them would soon be lost and in peril. They had no way of knowing that their plans would dramatically alter the Mother’s Day plans of Search and Rescue volunteers from across seven counties. They had no way of knowing how many strangers would sacrifice their time to search hazardous mountain terrain for someone they had never met. As the teens worked their way up the arduous trail, they encountered snow above 3000 feet, making the trail slippery and hard to follow.  Soon, one member of the group, an 18 year old female, decided she did not want to continue.  She informed her friends that she would hike back down alone and meet them at the trailhead. Late in the afternoon, when the group returned to the trail head their friend was not there.  After waiting some time and trying to find her they called 911 at 9PM that night.  Local Sheriff Deputies responded and were unable to reach her […]

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