Volume 2, Issue 5
May 8, 1997
Editors: Chuck and Mary Girven,
and Mickey Jojola

"That Others May Live..."
Top of the Hill
Bronze Boot
Public Relations
NMESC Notes
Classified Ads





Boots and Blisters
Who's Who and New
On the Right Track
PACE Committee Report
Special Notes





Business as Usual
Coming Attractions
Member Spotlight
Feature Article
Disclaimer





Top of the Hill by Mike Dugger
In an effort to keep our members thinking about standards and liability, I'm going to continue the discussion of this issue outside of our general meeting, via this article.

I proposed at the last meeting that we adopt standards with measurable criteria to which we would then train. Specifically, I proposed that we require our members to periodically demonstrate their physical fitness, orienteering ability, and litter packing and hauling ability. We decided at a previous meeting to require state certification of all our active members by 12/97, and all new prospectives within one year of joining. The state certification process provides documentation that we have sufficient knowledge in basic skills (gear & clothing, safety, search techniques, communications, map and compass) to perform search and rescue. My argument for requiring our own standard for fitness, orienteering and litter operations was that these skills are needed for the service we claim we can provide, but are not covered by basic certification (fitness, litter ops) or should be covered in greater detail and more frequently that in state certification (orienteering).

After our recent mission at the Santa Fe ski area (970105), I believe more strongly than ever that this is the way we should operate. Our assignment involved continuous walking for 16 hours, mostly in snowshoes, in snow over three feet deep at times, and at elevations between 9,000 and 11,000 feet. Since the mission was outside our district, we were not as familiar with off-trail areas as the local teams. This assignment required every ounce of energy, every bit of gear, and everything we knew about map and compass to get out safely. I have trained and searched with enough of our members to know that very few members of our team could have completed this assignment without requiring another mission to rescue the searchers. Most importantly, the demands of this assignment were not evident until we were committed to a course of action. I was concerned for my own safety and that of the team. Fortunately the weather was cooperative, we had no injuries, and found the "easiest" route using our orienteering skills. This mission could easily have turned out differently. In short, this was serious and were fortunate we knew this certification stuff!

Recent experience demonstrates the need for fitness and orienteering, but what about litter packing and hauling? Imagine the following scenario: An active member on the team for over a year responds to a mission where a litter evacuation is required. It has been raining, and the trail is narrow forcing litter tenders to walk on the sides of the trail. The member above slips on a wet rock and falls, taking his side of the litter down with him. The subject with a broken leg suffers additional pain and nerve damage from his injuries. Although the subject is grateful for the rescue, his insurance company elects to sue the state, CSAR, and the members participating in the litter evacuation. The state has the deepest pockets here, but when asked why CSAR was sent to do the litter evacuation, the field coordinator will say that we have done them before, we have a litter, and we advertise that we can do litter evacuations. CSAR will be asked to show how we train members to package and haul a litter. We have sign in sheets, but no documentation of what was taught or how we knew the attendees had learned anything. By recreating our training, and by testimony of many of our members, we convince the jury that we have a good training program and did the best we could to prepare members for litter operations. But guess what - we only require attending 2 trainings in six months, not any specific trainings. The member who fell was busy when we had litter training, and did not attend. Although his slip was purely accidental, we did not require that he know how to haul a litter, and this can be viewed as negligent. We're all responsible. Ask yourself if this scenario sounds plausible. I think you'll agree that it is. While it is true that we all accept more risk for liability by participating in SAR that by sitting at home on the couch, it is foolish to do nothing to minimize that risk. As a member of the litter team above, are you willing to jeopardize your house, car, and earning potential because one of your team mates did not attend a litter training? That is more risk than any of us should have to bear.
Boots and Blisters by Larry Mervine

Search Techniques April 20, 1997

Only ten members showed for the Search Techniques training. Maybe the state certification on Saturday burned everyone out. Search Techniques is an important skill for ground pounders to have. Melissa gave a 30 minute talk and Larry set up the teams to do a field practice. Below is a summary of the items we went over:
  1. Searcher's Attitude - People involved in search and rescue must be focused, dedicated and confident. Searchers must be disciplined because of the conditions that often prevail when effective searching is so important. Bad weather, cold, heat, fatigue, lack of success and other conditions eat away at one's senses. Have a positive attitude about finding clues or the subject.

  2. Two types of search techniques:

    1. Passive
      1. Attraction - Sound or visual.
      2. Confinement - Driving the roads, people at trailheads.
      3. Fact finding - Clues, tracking, interviewing family.
      * Passive techniques are usually done before ground teams arrive.

    2. Active
      1. Hasty - Teams are sent to cover trails, roads, natural boundaries, and drainages. Hasty teams are fast to respond and are looking for clues and tracks in the most likely places the subject would be.
      2. Efficient - This is when critical separation is used. Critical separation is the distance that should be between individual grid searchers in order for the team to be searching most efficiently. It is the distance at which there is no visible overlap between searchers, yet there is no visibility gap that remains unsearched. Probability of Detection (POD) is the likelihood that searchers would have found the subject expressed in percent. A grid search conducted at critical separation spacing is predicted to have a POD of 50%.
      3. Thorough - A slow thorough grid search is used as a last resort. Searchers are visually in site of each other (or closer). They have a very high POD, but are labor intensive and destructive to clues and tracks.

Clue awareness and mantracking are also very important to a ground team, but will be taught at other trainings.

Search techniques are very important and we will train on this again sometime this year.

Hike of the MonthDomingo Baca and TWA Canyon0900, May 31/June 1, 1997
Trailhead:Elena Gallegos parking lot
R.T. Distance: @7.0 milesElevation Min/Max: 6400/9000
Hiking Time @4.0 hoursHazards: Thorns, stickers, cactus
Topos: Forest Service map of the Sandias
This hike goes through one of the few riparian areas with year-round water. Make your stay short and stay on the trails where possible. The Forest Service does not maintain trails in this area, partly to discourage the average hiker. There is no way to describe this hike in a few sentences. A long sleeve shirt and long pants are STRONGLY recommended. I chose the route that most tourists would take. There are many other paths that could be used to get to the plane crash site. Also, this route is the one you could most easily follow on a search, especially at night, because it basically follows a watercourse most of the way. Start from the northernmost parking area, on trail 140 (Pino Trail). After about six minutes, you'll go through a pass-through fence. Take trail #342 to the left. In another twelve minutes, you end up on trail #230. This is at the place where the old North Pino trail is blocked by cactus bones. Two minutes later, go into the Wilderness area via another pass-through on the right. (366.5, 3892.8) Twelve minutes later, you'll come to a sign indicating that the Domingo Baca trail goes left across a wash. (366.5, 3893.4) The trail soon begins to go more easterly. The next junction is CRUCIAL to the hike. Less than an hour from your departure time, you need to be alert for a dripping waterfall on your right. On the left is obvious fallen dirt from people scrambling up the wall. Go up the waterfall and then to your left. Then go to the right, crossing over some big flat rocks. You'll pick up the sandy trail going through bushes. I was not able to get a waypoint at the bottom, but the flat rocks are at (367.2, 3894.0). If you miss this, you'll end up in Echo Canyon after a hour of strenuous hiking. You should NOT be below cliffs, walking up flat tilted rock shelves in an arroyo. Rather you should be on top, on a sandy trail, and in a few minutes, you'll notice a watercourse below you on your right. From now on, whenever there seems to be a choice of trails with similar usage, take the one on the left. But you should never be more than 30 yards from the watercourse. 25 minutes later, you'll come to a 12" diameter log laying across some flat rocks, with water flowing across the rocks. The upper bark is all worn off from people sitting on the log. Here the trail goes uphill to the left. 30 minutes beyond that, you'll come to a rock/log jam that must have been the result of some major flood. Ten minutes later, you reach a place where most TWA-seekers take the wrong arroyo. This is CRUCIAL junction #2. There is an inviting arroyo to the right, but the proper trail is to the left. Sometimes there are rock cairns marking the proper arroyo, but don't count on it. I was unable to acquire 3 satellites here. In about 5 minutes, you'll come to a box canyon, which you'll need to climb out of. The end of the canyon has a rather easy rock shelf that you can go up. We'll pass around this canyon on the way back. Finally, about 2.5 hours from departure, you will come to a portion of the wreckage, almost directly below the tram wires. (386.6, 3895.4) If you go another 200 yards left up the draw from the first wreckage, you'll find the rest of the plane. Allow an extra 1.5 hours for exploration and lunch. On the way back, skirt the box canyon by going uphill to the right of it. After you 'top out', you'll see an old rock fire ring on your left. There are many choices of paths here, and all seem to head back the proper way. For this hike, just past the fire ring, drop back down to the watercourse. There will be some zigzagging required. You can investigate the other choices on another occasion.
Business as Usual by John Mindock
In order to ensure that team records are not solely kept in one place: Each month, after I get the updates done to the membership roster and attendance, I make a disk backup of all computer files associated with CSAR. The files and the set of backups cover roughly the past three years. The current backup goes offsite (to my desk at work).

We also make regularly-scheduled more or less backups of all our computer files to an Iomega ZIP megadisk.
Bronze Boot
I nominate Chuck Girven and Bob Schwartz for this month's Bronze Boot, for their coordination of the GPS evaluation. Their work will make sorting out the technology and finding the right GPS unit a lot easier for people ready to make that investment. -- submitted by Mike Dugger
Who's Who and New by Bob Ulibarri
Scott Pierce and Terri Mindock received their orientation on Saturday, May 3. I'd like to be the first to welcome them to Cibola Search and Rescue. Please review your copy of the Member Guide as the Member Guide Committee has been reestablished. If you have any comments, suggestions, or concerns, please contact Mike Dugger or myself to talk about them. This guide contains Cibola's operational procedures and as such you should understand and support it's contents. As always, if you have comments or concerns please call me at home.
Coming Attractions by Chuck Girven
May 17th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 pm Gateway 66 Celebration

May 17th at Oak Flat PSAR presentation to Independent Order of Foresters 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Bob Schwartz will be the member spotlight for the June newsletter.
Public Relations by Chuck Girven
The Preventative SAR presented two programs on April 24th. The first was for Honeywell's Kids Day (there were 314 youngsters registered). Three CSAR members talked about what to do if someone was lost, K-9 SAR, pack break downs, and what people should carry when they go into the wilderness. This was the first time we used our new PSAR crossword puzzles as handouts. The organizers enjoyed it so much that they are thinking about having us come back and do another program for families some evening after work. Our second presentation on the 24th was to a Girl Scout troop on the West side. We showed them what we carry in our packs and explained about the three-layer system for clothing. We went through what they should carry with them when going into the woods or mountains. On Saturday, May 17th, we have two more presentations scheduled: one at the Gateway 66 Celebration on Central and Eubank from 10 am - 4 pm, and the second one that day will be for the Independent Order of Foresters from 2 - 5 pm at the Oak Flat campground. On Thursday, June 5, we are invited to participate in the New Mexico Forestry Camp Day. La Cueva Fire Department will be putting on a six hour demonstration on search and rescue. We are getting more and more invitations all the time to give presentations and could really use your help. These activities are fun and educational too (for the presenters as well as the audience). If any CSAR members would like to help out with these events, please contact me or Marnie Boren!
On the Right Track by Mary Berry
The K-9 unit has lost a little momentum the last few months, but plan to get back into the groove in May. The final (hopefully) version of the canine testing standards should be approved this month. Mickey plans to re-test "Jake" in the next month or two, according to the final standards. One of the problems we found with the previous test was a lack of field support (another groundsearcher to help with comm, navigation, etc.), so this is being added to the new test. We are also discussing having a weekend retreat in the early summer (June?) for social and brainstorming purposes. The K-9 unit continues to informally gather weekly to train dogs, and anyone interested in watching or helping should contact me or Mickey.
Member Spotlight: Mary Berry
There seems to be few "natives" of Albuquerque around these days, but I "are" one. Born and raised here, I attended Highland High School in the '70's when streaking was the craze. I met Bruce at a party when I was a Junior, although we attended different schools. I later attended New Mexico State University, mostly to get away from my parents but not make them broke. While there, I decided that veterinary medicine sounded good, as I had always enjoyed cats and was fascinated by my dad's horse and few head of cattle he raised in Los Lunas. ( Being an Ag school, I learned more than I cared to know about feed concentrates and birth to slaughter weight ratios.) This city girl graduated with a BS in Animal Science and zero prospects of a job, sweating it big in hopes of getting into vet school. Bruce was also at NMSU, and we dated off and on, driving each other crazy.

In 1980, I was lucky enough to be accepted to vet school at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. I have MANY fond memories and a few recollections of nightmares during my 4 years there. I learned a few things about llamas (the only way to spit bigger than them is to use a garden hose on full force), and Big Horned Owls (it sure is nice to release them in the wild when their fracture is healed). During school, Bruce and I managed to keep our long distance relationship going, and in my senior year, we got married.

Bruce and I got a Bluetick Coonhound, "Beauregard", as our first pet and soon met up with Bill Bailey, a local Bloodhound SAR "character". He got me hooked on dog training. Bill was generally hard to get along with, rest his soul, and Bruce and I decided to leave his team. We had met with a few others who were wanting to start a SAR team, so Cibola SAR was born. Getting started with 6 people was tough and I served as every officer of the team several times before we got big enough to spread the responsibility around.

When "Beau" died, I got "J.C." who has great man-trailing bloodlines. I certified him mission-ready in 1993, in accordance with a simple man-trailing test that the team used. He is overdue for a re-certification, with the new team test standard. Not yet having my full plate running over, I joined the Urban SAR team in 1993, and started training another dog for disaster search. I have been through 2 dogs that turned out to be unsuitable for that type of work, and now have high hopes that "Dusty", my yellow Lab pup, will be up to the challenge. We should know by this Christmas.

When I joined Urban SAR, I came to realize how much Cibola SAR has taught me. I've been lucky to be associated with such a great group of people, and am proud to be one of it's co-founders.
NMESC Notes by Mickey Jojola
The ESCAPE is this weekend, May 9-11. I look forward to seeing everyone there!
PACE Committee Report by John Mindock
20 members of CSAR passed the Field Certification tests. Congratulations and thank you for your support in this effort. If there are any comments, suggestions, etc. about the Evaluation Session, please let me know.
So You Want to Buy a Radio? by Mike Dugger
A handheld radio is one of the largest investments that a search and rescue volunteer is likely to make in pursuit of this "hobby." Aside from personal gear to provide for your own well being in the wilderness, it is also one of the most important. A radio is your vital communications link to base camp while you are in the field, and will be used to update field assignments, get new assignments, report clues or if you are fortunate, report the location of the missing subject. The number of available accessories and options for handheld radios can be bewildering, not to mention the choice of which radio to buy in the first place. This article will describe some of the types of handheld radios and features available that are useful for search and rescue volunteers.

Let's start with types of radios. There are two basic kinds of handy talkies: crystal or synthesized. As the name implies, crystal radios contain a piece crystalline quartz that is tuned to vibrate at a specific frequency when excited with a voltage (quartz is piezoelectric, i.e. it changes shape very slightly when a voltage is applied to it, so it can be made to vibrate at its resonant frequency by applying a time-varying voltage). For each frequency on which the radio operates, crystal radios have one crystal for the transmitter and one for the receiver. Multiple frequencies are commonly used on search and rescue missions. When many teams are in the field, it is good practice to keep tactical inter-team communications off of the state SAR frequency (155.160 MHz). Therefore, even if you have a crystal radio you will want to have the capability to communicate on several frequencies, such as 155.160 MHz, the CSAR team frequency, and possibly the team frequencies for a few other teams that we work with regularly. Team SAR frequencies are also generally in the range of 155-156 MHz. If all you ever want to do is communicate on the state SAR frequency and several SAR team frequencies, a crystal radio is a cheap and very durable solution to the communications problem.

The primary disadvantage of crystal radios is that it is not trivial to change the frequencies on which the radio operates. The operating frequencies can certainly be changed, but a new pair of receive and transmit crystals must be installed in the radio (about $50 for the pair). This is certainly not a field operation, and should usually be done by a qualified technician. Synthesized radios get around the need to insert crystals to change a radio's operating frequency. They contain a variable frequency oscillator, which is really nothing more than a tuned circuit of inductors and capacitors whose resonant frequency can be changed by changing the values of inductance and capacitance for components of the circuit. Depending on the type of radio, synthesized radios may be fully field programmable via front keypad, via special software and a cable to connect the radio to a personal computer, or via direct modification of internal circuitry by a qualified technician. The cost of a synthesized radio usually goes up as the ease of programming increases. If you ever plan to become a licensed amateur radio operator and use your handy talkie on the amateur radio bands, a synthesized radio is a must. Amateur radio frequencies are becoming more popular on search and rescue missions because repeaters allow the range of handy talkies to be greatly extended, and provide better coverage in canyons, across mountains, etc. It is of course possible to use a crystal radio for communication via repeater, but there are so many different repeaters around the state that may be used on a SAR mission, it becomes economically impractical to use a crystal radio when all these frequencies are accessible with a synthesized radio.

What type of synthesized radio is best? Sorry, you're on your own there. But it is a good idea to talk to people, particularly licensed HAMs, about their experience with different types of radios and general information about the reputation of various brands. Let's discuss frequency range. The circuitry in handy talkies is designed to operate best over a particular range of frequencies. Therefore a radio designed for operation on the 2 meter (144-148 MHz) amateur radio band cannot receive or transmit on the 70 centimeter (420-450 MHz) band, unless it is a dual band radio. Since SAR frequencies are in the range of 155-156 MHz, radios designed to operate on the 2 meter amateur band may be able to operate at search and rescue frequencies. Look for a radio that will transmit on 144-148 MHz, receive on 140-174 MHz, and is "FCC type accepted." The "type accepted" statement means that the quality of circuit components and design of the circuit is such that the radio operates at a narrow bandwidth. This means that when the radio is set to transmit on a particular frequency, it transmits in an acceptably (to the FCC) narrow band, and its transmission does not splatter over into other frequencies and cause interference. The FCC type accepted criterion is critical if you are considering modifying a 2 meter HAM radio to operate at 155-156 MHz. It is important to note that commercial radios, by virtue of their design, can operate legally at 144-148 MHz as well as 155-156 MHz without modification. However, these radios can be quite expensive (~$800 new) and the practice of modifying 2 meter type accepted radios to operate at 155-156 MHz is common. My queries to the regulations section of the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) on whether it is legal to operate a modified FCC type accepted radio at 155-156 MHz have come back with answers from different people at both extremes - "clearly illegal," and "no problem." At best, one can therefore say the practice is questionable. You should do some research on this topic and make your own decision about what type of radio to purchase.

Now that we have sorted out what kinds of radios are available, let's discuss options. Some of these options are available for crystal radios as well, but I will focus on programmable (synthesized) radios here, assuming that the user may be operating on amateur radio frequencies as well. There are dozens of bells and whistles that can be purchased for almost any brand of radio, but only a few of these are worth the extra expense for SAR operations.

A couple of different operating power settings is a good idea, to help conserve precious battery life. The radio should be left in the low power setting (which may be 1 or 2 watts) unless problems are encountered with your transmissions being heard. In addition to saving battery life, the use of as low a power as necessary to convey the information is consistent with basic amateur radio operating principles. The higher power setting (perhaps 5 watts) can be used if the extra power is needed in order to be heard. You should always carry a backup battery. Some users prefer to carry a couple of long life batteries (1200 mA.hrs, for example), and others prefer battery pack adapters that can accept regular AA size alkaline batteries.

"PL tone," or CTCSS (continuous tone coded squelch system) programmability is a useful option if you plan to use your radio at times other than during a mission. Some repeaters are closed and require a special subaudible tone to get in, or to access special features such as a patch into the telephone system. Repeaters used in SAR missions are usually put in emergency operating mode, in which the PL tone is disabled. The PL tone may still be required, however, to access the phone patch. This lets you make emergency telephone calls in the field using your handheld radio. Alternatively, the communications specialist or other member of the command staff is usually willing to make an emergency telephone call for you from base camp if necessary. If you are interested in accessing the phone patch, you will also need a DTMF keypad on your radio. This keypad provides the 12 standard tones (0-9, * and #) used by the telephone system to dial phone numbers.

You should purchase a radio capable of storing several operating frequencies (or channels) at a time. You can then change from one frequency to another by simply turning a knob or pressing a button. Opinions on how many channels are necessary vary. Some say an absolute minimum of 15 channels is required. On any mission, even a large one, it is unlikely that more than six separate frequencies will be needed for field personnel (155.160, CSAR plus two other team frequencies, weather, and a repeater; note that the communications specialist at base camp may use several more). However, it is also convenient to program your radio with a larger number of SAR and repeater frequencies and then not have to program your radio as often. This is a matter of personal preference. If you have a field programmable radio and are comfortable doing so, you can buy a radio with fewer channels. I can program 14 channels on my radio. I keep 13 channels programmed with SAR frequencies, weather, and a few common repeaters. I leave one channel open for programming at the start of a mission, if a frequency that I don't already have programmed will be used. This is rare. Also make sure your radio can be set to scan selected channels. If a mission is using 155.160, the CSAR frequency and one repeater, you can set your radio to scan all of these so you don't miss any important traffic.

A speaker microphone is also a good idea. The microphone plugs into your radio, and can be clipped to the shoulder strap of your pack or other convenient location while the radio remains in your pack, a holster or a harness. The radio can then be kept warm (improved battery life), dry and protected while only the microphone is exposed to the elements. It is also a lot more convenient to push a button at your chest and talk, rather than pulling your radio out of its harness. Again, talk to other people and find out what works for them. As a companion to the speaker microphone, it is useful to have a keyboard that can be locked. This way, while your radio is riding in your pack or harness, buttons accidentally pressed won't mess up your radio settings.

That's about all you will need for the overwhelming majority of missions. There are a couple of additional items worth considering, but not really necessary for most of our missions - extra antennas and vehicle-mounted chargers. Besides battery power, the antenna is the next most critical feature of your radio that determines how well you can be heard. The short, flexible "rubber duck" antennas that come standard on most radios are small and convenient, but the transmission efficiency is usually compromised to make the antenna smaller. Consider a backup antenna that you can mount when communications are particularly difficult. There are rigid, telescoping "full wave" antennas that have great transmission efficiency, but can break off (or even worse, cause the antenna mount to break) when bashing through the woods. An alternative is a flexible "1/2 wave" or "5/8 wave" antenna. You can also buy antennas that mount on the roof of your car and connect to your handheld radio, which can greatly improve reception and transmission while you are on the way to a mission. Vehicle mounted chargers are handy for allowing you to use your radio while on the way to a mission, and at the same time maintaining your batteries in a fully charged condition. On the other hand, batteries with 12 hour or more life can be purchased for almost any radio, and a couple of these will get you through most missions.

Communication is a vital part of SAR operations, and every volunteer is encouraged to have a radio. I hope this brief description of radios and options helps you decide what type of equipment is right for you, if and when you are ready to make the investment.
Classified Ads (20 words maximum, no services)
FOR SALE: Garmin 38 GPS,like new. $140, firm. Contact Bruce Berry at 897-3652.


FOR SALE: Motorola HT220 two channel hand held Radio with charger and two batteries. Already has CSAR and State SAR crystals installed. Doesn't need HAM license to operate. $175. Contact Chuck Girven at 899-8573.
FOR SALE: One pair black Outdoor Research "Crocodile" Gore-Tex Gaiters, size: small. Front velcro closure, knee high. $40 OBO. Contact Tom Russo at 823-4554.
Special Notes
Happy Birthday to Mary Girven, our own Webmaster. Her birthday is May 27th. -- submitted by Chuck Girven
Disclaimer the Editors
The information in this newsletter was gathered from many sources and presents facts as we believe them to be true. This newsletter is not meant to be an official document, but a means to disseminate team information.