Lost and Found... the newsletter of Volume 3, Issue 1
8 January 1998
Editors: Tom Russo, Mike Dugger,
and Mickey Jojola

Cibola Search and Rescue
"That Others May Live..."
Top of the Hill
Pinching Pennies
Mini Lesson
Public Relations
Web News
Recent Missions
Boots and Blisters
Who's Who and New
On the Right Track
Bronze Boot
NMESC Notes
Calendar
Business as Usual
Coming Attractions
Member Spotlight
Disclaimer
Callout Information
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Top of the Hill by John Mindock
Welcome to 1998. I'm looking forward to a safe and busy year for CSAR. Here are my priorities, based on my perception of the majority's desires about the administrative aspects of the team.

1. Ensure that all tasks which the team has decided to undertake are executed in the manner the team expects, and that they are done on time. 2. Ensure that all members have the opportunity to be informed about all business pertaining to the team. 3. Ensure that team-desired tasks can be accomplished with a reasonable effort by those responsible for them.

My CSAR 'office hours' are 5 P.M. to 7 P.M. every night. Please do not call me for administrative matters any other time unless it is an emergency.

Recently, I have contacted the Committee chairs. All will remain in their 1997 roles except Melinda, who has asked to be replaced on the Equipment Committee. Mike will be her replacement, effective already.

I will be opening the doors to the meeting area at 5:30 on meeting nights. This time can be used for Committee meetings, Orientations, discussion of team matters, and practice on SAR topics. I will be arranging for the litter, ropes, etc. to be there. In addition, there may be lectures in this time slot on SAR topics. The general idea is that this one night can be used for multiple SAR activities instead of having them occur on many different occasions. This is related to my priority #3 above.

Thank you for the opportunity to be President of CSAR. I'll do what I can to help the business end of the team run smoothly. Your support for all the efforts by those who work on the team tasks is appreciated.

On February 14, we will once again be providing rescue support at the Mt. Taylor Quadrathlon. If you would like to participate, please sign up at the January meeting or leave a message on the hotline. Indicate if you will be staying overnight (outside in the cold) on Friday or solely working the race on Saturday. Larry M. will be coordinating the event and our teammate Andrew P. will be a contestant. Back to Top
Boots and Blisters by Paul Husler
Below is the training schedule for 1998. As you will notice, I have posted dates and times for each official CSAR training that will be held this year. I have done so to give everyone ample time to plan ahead so they will be able to attend these scheduled trainings. Our first training of 1998 will be on January 10th, 9:00am at Cedro Peak Campground. The subject will be Litter Evacuation and Litter Packaging (directions are posted on the voice-mail system). This training will start promptly at 9:00am, so please make every attempt to be at the training 15 minutes prior to start time. If you arrive at a training more than 15 minutes after the start time the training will not count towards the "two trainings every 6 months" requirement. There will be no evaluation offered at this training, however I anticipate that there will be a Litter Evacuation and Litter packaging evaluation after the February training.

1998 Training Schedule

* Other specialties, as listed in the State SAR Resource Directory, but not included in Cibola's "Training Policy and Standard" nor "State Field Certification."

Hike of the MonthEllis Trail - snowshoe hike0800, Jan 31, Feb 1, 1998\01998
Trailhead: Ellis trailhead, 12 miles up Highway 536 to Sandia Crest
R.T. Distance: 1 - 4 milesElevation Min/Max: 10000/10000
Hiking Time 2 - 4 hoursHazards: Exhaustion, cold, sunburn, frostnip
Topo Maps: USFS map of the Sandias
This hike is for snowshoes. Go as far as you want then turn around. Four hours on snowshoes is very physically demanding, especially at this altitude. It helps to rotate so that different people are breaking trail.

There is a parking area ($3 fee required) with two lots on the left side of the road. For the hike, cross the road, then go uphill in the open area until you see the sign about the 'controlled burn'. From there go north as far as you feel comfortable, considering the return trip. Don't follow the power lines - they go the wrong way. Snowshoes can be rented from REI, the New Mexico Mountain Club, and from SERP (for Sandians).

I will register this hike with the USFS, so your SAR orange sticker should apply. However, if you go on dates other than the above, you will need to pay the fee if you do not have an annual USFS decal for 1998.
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Business as Usual by Terri Mindock
I wish to thank all of you who voted for me for Secretary for the coming year - your confidence means a great deal to me and I intend to continue to do my best for the team. It is important to me for Cibola to continue to operate with a high level of quality, in both administrative and operational aspects. I'm enthusiastic to be able to maintain and enhance the solid foundation on which the previous administration has worked so hard to cultivate and refine.

Your ideas and suggestions regarding the Secretary position are welcome and I look forward to working with everyone. See you on the trail! Back to Top
Mini Lesson by Mike Dugger

Basic Radio Communications

Overview

What is the most important piece of gear for a SAR team in the field? Many SAR volunteers would answer "a radio." A radio is the team's vital link to base camp, permitting communication of located clues, progress on an assignment, changes in strategy, or location of the subject. While searching without a radio is certainly possible, the ability to communicate with teams in the field is a great source of comfort for both the searcher and the incident command staff at base camp. This mini-lesson is intended to provide a few basic guidelines to promote effective communications.

Hardware

Since this lesson is geared toward searchers in the field, hand-held or "handy talkies" are stressed, but many of these issues apply to vehicle mounted radios or base stations as well. There are two basic kinds of handy talkies: crystal or programmable (AKA "synthesized"). For each frequency on which the radio operates, crystal radios have one crystal for the transmitter and one for the receiver. Since SAR operations frequently make use of multiple frequencies, and these may change from mission to mission, programmable radios are popular. A selectable "high" or "low" power setting is a good idea, to help conserve precious battery life when high power is not needed. 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 AA size alkaline batteries.

"PL tone," or CTCSS (continuous tone coded squelch system) programmability is a useful option. Some repeaters are closed and require a special sub-audible tone to get access, 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 to access the phone patch. 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 a repeater's 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.

A radio capable of storing several operating frequencies is a good idea. You can then change from one frequency to another by simply turning a knob or pressing a button. Opinions vary on how many channels are necessary. On any mission (even a large one) it is unlikely that more than six separate frequencies will be needed for field personnel (main mission frequency, your team plus two other team frequencies, weather, and a repeater). The communications specialist at base camp may use several more. Some people find it convenient to program their radio with a larger number of SAR and repeater frequencies and then not have to program their 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.

Radio Operation

You should be very familiar with the basic functions of the radio BEFORE heading out into the field. A few additional pointers follow, acquired from mission experience.

Use of a speaker microphone allows the radio to be kept warm (improved battery life), dry, and protected while only the microphone is exposed to the elements. When using a speaker microphone, it is a good idea to lock the radio keyboard. Buttons accidentally pressed won't mess up your radio settings while your radio is riding in your pack or harness. If you can't hear or be heard, check your antenna - this connection frequently makes for poor signal transmission and is another important reason to do a radio check when you are about 1/2 mile from base camp. If your radio is not working properly, you may therefore return to base to get things fixed without wasting too much time. In addition to the initial radio check, teams should check in periodically with base camp to inform them of progress and that the teams are still in communication range. Unless instructed by Incident Base to check in at some other interval, it is good practice to check in about every hour. Even if monitoring other frequencies in addition to the mission frequency, NEVER go off the mission frequency or turn off your radio without informing Incident Base.

It is a good idea to scan mission frequencies, particularly while en route to base camp, so you don't miss any important traffic such as a find or change of base camp location. Remember to turn up the volume on your handy talkie when you use it inside a vehicle, so you can hear it over vehicle noise. The squelch control can be used to set the radio volume by turning down the squelch until you hear background static, then set the volume. If you do not hear static with the squelch all the way down and the volume up, this is an indication that something is wrong with the radio.

Always wait a second or two after keying the microphone before you begin speaking. This will give your transmitter (or the repeater) a chance to turn on before your information is transmitted. Failure to do this results in the first word or two in of the sentence being clipped off, and can be confusing for those listening to you. Also avoid yelling into the microphone or having it too close to your mouth, as this will distort your voice. Radios work best if you speak with the microphone a few inches from your mouth and at a volume used in normal conversation. If your transmission is broken or weak, yelling into the microphone is a normal reaction but will only make matters worse.

Signal Transmission

Radio signals are a form of electromagnetic radiation like light, and generally travel in a straight line. However, they can be bent by the atmosphere or layers of charged particles, and can reflect off of surfaces. For this reason, signal quality between two radios will be improved if these radios are on high points, with no ridges, trees or buildings between them. Although "directional" antennas can be used to preferentially transmit radio waves in a certain direction, radio waves are generally transmitted in all directions. Since radio waves can reflect, the signal arriving at your radio may be composed of two or more signals coming from the same source, but taking slightly different paths. One may travel directly to you from the transmitter's antenna, and another may reflect off of a cliff face before reaching you, for example. These two waves can interfere with one another and cause "dead spots" (nodes and anti-nodes created by interference of electromagnetic waves at the same or slightly different frequencies are beyond the scope of this lesson). A good strategy to improve signal clarity between two stations therefore includes moving to a local high spot, or if at a high spot, simply moving a few feet to cancel destructive interference if a reflected wave is disrupting communications. A higher power setting on your radio may improve the ability of another station to hear you, but will not improve how well you receive another station.

One trick that has been used when low battery power or extremely poor signal conditions prevent communication is to key the transmitter to produce a click. When someone's battery is going dead and they do not have a backup, or when there is too much interference to understand what someone is saying, the communications specialist may say something like "Is your battery low? Click once for yes and twice for no." The transmitter will usually have enough power to momentarily turn on and produce an audible click on the transmit frequency for a while after power is too low to transmit voice. In this way, the party in the field can pass information to base in the form of answers to simple questions. Remember - the goal is to convey information. If communications can be maintained for a while longer at a critical time with this method, it may be used. Of course you should always have a spare power source. If you lose all ability to communicate with base, you should immediately proceed to base or the nearest staging area that has communication with base.

Conveying Information

The purpose of any communication is to convey information. When on a SAR mission, WHAT to say is at least as important as HOW to say it. Any information worth transmitting by radio should be relevant to the mission and understood by the recipient. Speak slowly and in plain English, without "Q-codes," "10-codes," or jargon. Speaking slowly not only facilitates understanding of your message, but will be appreciated by anyone who may be keeping a written record of mission communications in base camp. This is particularly important when describing a clue or transmitting your coordinates in UTM or latitude-longitude. To make sure you are understood, it is entirely acceptable to ask, "Do you understand?" after transmitting your message. When initializing or responding to any communication on the radio, it is important to indicate who is calling whom. Use the words "this is" or "to." For example, the phrase "Team four to search base" might be answered with "This is search base. Go ahead team four."

The only exception to avoiding coded transmissions occurs in the case of fatality of the subject. It is important to remember that radio transmissions can be heard by ANYONE, and that there are usually other people listening to SAR radio communications than those participating in the mission. We want to let the Incident Commander (IC) or communications specialist know what is going on, without telling the rest of the world. We do not want family or friends of the missing person hear about their death first on the evening news. To prevent this, the IC will sometimes give a "death code" or "condition code," which is a special phrase to secretly let base camp know the condition of the subject. The death code may be a phrase such as "I found the lake," or "I found a red sneaker." In the excitement of initial attack, command staff may forget to issue a death code. It is good practice to ask for one before leaving base camp if you are not given one during briefing.

Since transmitter power and terrain features limit the range of radios, information will sometimes be relayed from one station to another until it reaches the intended party. For example, the Civil Air Patrol may relay information back and forth between a team in a remote canyon and incident base. Whenever relaying information, it is important that it be done word-for-word, exactly as transmitted by the sender. Any information added by the relaying station should be identified as such. This procedure is necessary to make sure the message maintains its original meaning from sender to recipient. Small changes in a relayed message may, after a few iterations, end up totally changing the meaning of the message.

Protocol & Radio Etiquette

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) controls access to and use of radio frequencies throughout the United States. Similar agencies control radio transmissions in other countries. All radio frequency users must have a license to transmit on that frequency, issued by the FCC or appropriate governing agency. The only exception to this rule under FCC regulations is in a "life or death" emergency, when any frequency may be used to call for help. A search itself is generally not considered to be a life or death emergency, and frequencies used by incident command are used under an FCC-issued license. As a non-licensed SAR person, it is OK for you to use the frequencies designated by incident command for search information only, and only during the duration of the mission. Only licensed amateur radio operators may use frequencies other than the mission frequency, unless a life or death emergency exists. The FCC requires that frequency users identify themselves using their FCC-issued call sign at least every 30 minutes. Base camp usually takes care of this for frequencies in use on a SAR mission.

NEVER use a mission frequency to hold a non-mission related conversation, or to pass on "cute" remarks. The mission frequency must remain open as much as possible to permit the transfer of important mission-related information. For the same reason, keep mission-related communications to the minimum amount necessary. Consider whether the information you are about to transmit, such as that Pepsi can you just found, is really important before using up battery power to tell base camp (and everyone else on the mission) about it. It is interesting to note that compared to just being on, a radio consumes about 6 times as much power to receive and about 50 times as much power to transmit. [1] For the same reason, it is a good idea to use a frequency other than the main mission frequency to convey "tactical" information. For example, when two teams are trying to meet up in the field, or when a member needs directions to base camp, use a separate team frequency rather than the mission frequency. The key is to avoid unnecessary transmissions. When you do find yourself involved in a lengthy dialog on the mission frequency, it is good practice to pause momentarily after every few sentences. This allows someone with really important information to break in. There have been situations where teams have waited 15 minutes to report tracks or a clue while some conversation in process finished up. This new information might render the conversation in progress moot. If you need to break in with extremely urgent information, say "break, break, break" and identify yourself. Likewise, you should stop talking when you hear three rapid breaks. The only thing on the frequency after three breaks should be silence, awaiting transmission of the urgent information.

Turn your radio off or the volume low enough for only you to hear, while in the vicinity of base camp. Having dozens of radios blaring in base camp can be distracting for command staff, and also wastes battery power. Another consideration may be members of the media or the subject's family at base camp. The media should get their information from the Incident Commander or their Information Officer, and mission details may be upsetting to the subject's family.

Some SAR members become licensed amateur radio operators so that they can have access to other frequencies and repeaters to convey information. Repeaters extend the range of mobile radios by receiving and re-transmitting information at higher power, and licensed amateur radio operators usually have access to many repeaters in their area. A "technician" class license issued by the FCC is not too difficult to get, and permits access to several amateur radio frequency bands.

In the Incident Command System structure, the communications specialist reports to the Logistics Section Chief. Their job is to relay and record information, not to make tactical decisions. On larger missions that may use a communications specialist, realize that command decisions will require consulting with the incident commander. Be patient.

The use of profanity in a radio transmission is never acceptable. The FCC prohibits this behavior, and may impose a large fine. Amateur radio operators self-police their privilege to use amateur bands designated by the FCC, and will generally report anyone heard using profanity on the radio frequencies.

References

1. Bob Cowan, "Communications Guide for the New SAR Person," in the 1997 New Mexico Field Certification Study Guide.

Self-Quiz on Basic Radio Communications

  1. What are two basic types of hand held radios?
  2. What may happen if you begin speaking immediately after you press the transmit button?
  3. What are some strategies to improve communications if signals are weak or broken?
  4. Why is a "death code" used?
  5. Under what section does the communications function occur in the ICS system?
  6. Is a license required to use a specific radio frequency for communications during a mission?
  7. Under what conditions may a person transmit on a radio frequency without an FCC-license?
  8. How often should teams check in with base camp, and why?
  9. What should you do if you permanently lose communication with base camp?
  10. What are two main reasons to avoid unnecessary transmissions on the mission frequency?
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Pinching Pennies by Lori Brockway
Hi, my name is Lori Brockway and I am now officially the new Treasurer. Melissa Smith has shown me how she keeps the books and I think she has done a wonderful job. I hope I can do half as well as she has done.

At this point I don?t plan on making any changes in the way Melissa has run things in the past. This means that Gas voucher forms must be submitted each month at the business meeting. Any reimbursements for other SAR related purchases need the approval of the committee chair or the president.

You may have to be patient until I get the hang of things, so bear with me! Thanks Back to Top
Who's Who and New by Mickey Jojola
Happy New Year! I hope that everyone has had a great holiday and that the new year is prosperous. This is the first full month as membership officer and things have been busy. I have no plans to change the system. I think that since it ain't broke I won't need to fix it. If anyone has any suggestions I am open to receive them; just give me a call and we can talk. I look forward to serving the team in the upcoming year! Thanks. Back to Top
Coming Attractions by Tom Russo
There will be a minilesson on knots in the next issue, and we'll be publishing more spotlights on our new board of officers. As always, remember that you may share feature articles or minilessons with the team by getting in touch with the editors and letting us know you're interested in doing so. Back to Top
Public Relations by Tom Russo
The public relations committee asks that you let us know if you have any CSAR related photos or videotapes. We're a bit behind schedule on making up our 1997 yearbook, and part of the problem is a lack of source material for the period between September and December. Back to Top
On the Right Track by Mickey Jojola
Well, well, another year gone by. One dog tested and one to go. I hope to see all in the field for trainings as well as for searches. This year should be a productive one for the K-9 group. Getting Jake field ready is my first priority with continued training and education the second. I would like to thank all that have been involved in the past and hope that this year is as successful as the last. Back to Top
Member Spotlight: Lori Brockway
The story of my life begins in Morristown NJ, March 8, 1965. Shortly after I was born our family moved to Urbana, Illinois and we finally moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico when I was in kindergarten. I lived in Los Alamos until I graduated from high school. I had a normal fun childhood; Los Alamos is a good place to grow up. I went to college at NMSU for one year and decided I didn't like it, so I moved up to Durango, CO. A much better choice. I finished my bachelors degree in Marketing at Fort Lewis College.

I thought I had a burning desire to work in the Hotel Management arena, so I got a job at the Red Lion Inn in Durango shortly after it opened. I worked there for 3 years doing just about every job there was so I could get the experience to move up the "corporate ladder". I moved up, but I hit burn-out and decided at Hotel Management was not for me. So what do you do when you don't know what you want to do with your life? You go back to school. So that is what I did.

I moved to Tucson, Arizona and got my masters degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona. I then hired on at Sandia National Laratory as a programmer. I have been there for almost 5 years. So where does Search and Rescue fit into all of that? When I turned 30 I realized what I was missing by being an overweight couch potato. After that, I really got into hiking, camping, riding my bike and being outdoors. It wasn't until I had to call Search and Rescue to search for a missing friend that I really became aware of SAR and all that SAR does. That experience led me to join Cibola SAR. I have been on the team about 1 1/2 years. I have learned a lot since I joined and I'm glad to be part of a group of dedicated people who really want to make a difference. Back to Top
Web News by Tom Russo
We've been getting some very nice feedback on our website from people around the state and the country. I'll be compiling it all and including it in my monthly spiel at the meetings, and it will be included in the hardcopy of the website which I'll continue to bring to every meeting.

I've been working on a set of training resources pages, and as of now I've got a set of instructions and a checklist for the litter handling evaluation and a page of photographs of various knots. The former will come in handy for preparing for the litter handling evaluation, and I hope that the latter will come in handy for those of us who haven't been around ropes all that much lately. When the knot pages are finished I'll have a bit more to say about them.
Bronze Boot by Tom Russo

1997 Officers, November 1997
Chuck Girven, as his parting act as Public Relations Chair, nominated the board of officers for the Bronze Boot in recognition of their hard work throughout the year.
Mike Dugger, December 1997
Scott Pierce nominated Mike Dugger in December, in recognition of his efforts in hiking up La Luz at 4AM to bring a pair of boots to a hypothermic subject. Back to Top
NMESC Notes by Mickey Jojola
With the ESCAPE just around the corner the ESC is working frantically to complete its tasks. There will be a couple of very worthwhile training events coming up in the near future. One is the Wilderness First Aid class which will be held in Rio Rancho and the other is the Winter Skills class to be held near Los Alamos. If you get a chance to attend, either or both would be a good training opportunity. We all look forward to seeing you all at the ESCAPE and future trainings. Back to Top
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.