Mono County Search and Rescue had a busy 2010, and 2011 has so far been the same.
On the night of Feb. 11, 2011, the Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue (SAR) Team was called out to assist Betsy Rieke, 67, of Carson City, Nev., who became lost and stranded above a cliff while on a solo hike in the Mono Craters. Rieke had be able to make cell phone contact with the persons with whom she had discussed the hike with, who in turn, reported the situation to the Sheriff’s Department before they began to hike to Rieke’s location. The Sheriff’s Department dispatched personnel to the area where it was determined that SAR should also respond. As SAR arrived, Rieke was located by her acquaintances that helped her up a scree slope to the trail on top of the crater. They reported via cell phone that Rieke was uninjured but cold. SAR members with additional supplies hiked in and met Rieke’s group as they were hiking down the road from the crater. SAR members used the Sheriff’s Department ATV to shorten the final portion of the hike for the group.
The Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue (SAR) Team is an all-volunteer organization that, in 2010, responded to 45 calls from the Sheriff in aid of 60 subjects, 49 of whom were non-residents.
Twenty-six of the missions were searches, 32 were rescues, and 13 were both a search and a rescue. Seventeen calls were snow related. Twenty missions involved injuries, with 5 fatalities.
Of the 60 subjects, there were 37 hikers and backpackers, 8 snowmobilers, 3 climbers, 3 stranded motorists, 3 snowboarders, 3 fliers, 1 snowshoer, and 1 skier.
The team volunteers were in the field for 388 hours, contributing a total of 2,642 man hours.
As with all first responders, the team spends a lot of personal time just being ready, through training, practice, equipment care, and personal fitness. In 2010, formal training sessions alone totaled 3,534 man hours.
The team was first organized in 1966 and has no employees or payroll but does have significant expenses that are largely met through donations.
The major project now is to acquire a building to house the team’s vehicles and equipment, that for so many years has been out in the weather as well as provide space for meetings and trainings. The team currently has the use of a temporary structure, thanks to the Sheriff’s Department, which must be vacated soon. Plans are currently in the permitting process and the team hopes to be housed in a new steel building by the time the snow flies in the fall of 2011. –MCSD/LAK