Lost and Found... the newsletter of Volume 4, Issue 1
14 January 1999
Editors: Tom Russo, Mike Dugger,
and Susan Corban

Cibola Search and Rescue
"That Others May Live..."
Top of the Hill Boots and Blisters Pinching Pennies
Who's Who and New Gearing Up Coming Attractions
Public Relations NMESC Notes Feature Article
Web News Disclaimer
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Top of the Hill by Larry Mervine
Happy New Year.

Taking an active role in Search & Rescue means we have less free time each month. A member who accepts an officer's position commits even more free time. So I would like to thank last year's officers for taking the extra time to help Cibola to become a better team.

The newly elected officers for 1999 met December 22, 1998 at Dion's Pizza. We reviewed officer's responsibilities, talked about reorganizing the phone tree, possible changes to team standards, and set goals for the coming year. Here are the goals we can achieve this year:

  1. To increase the number of Ham operators by five members. Ham classes start January 20th 1999.
  2. To increase team membership by 50%. This is an aggressive goal that we think can be accomplished. In October and November we saw 24 new faces as a result of the PR committees recruitment drive.
  3. To invite more teams to our trainings and to encourage more joint trainings.

See you out there. Back to Top
Boots and Blisters by Tom Russo
Some holiday traditions I can do without: eating big meals and rich desserts, belting out off-key Christmas carols, and drinking to excess while watching a lighted globe drop from a tower back east are a few Things Best Left To Others. But I'm willing to make a few New Year's resolutions: to provide interesting, varied, and fun trainings; to schedule them conveniently; and to keep you posted with timely information about them. I've already started making up a web site for training information, and it can be reached at http://www.cibolasar.org/tsched.shtml. I also stuck a "Mindit" button on the page so you can register to receive email every time it changes, if you care to. Time-critical training information will be left on the team hotline, and we'll do -411 callouts to make sure everyone gets it. Tops of trees are asked to call their branches for every -411 page, but members should try to get in the habit of calling the voicemail every week or so, or at a minimum the Monday prior to a training event. For our part, we'll try to keep the voicemail updated so that this weekly task will not be wasted effort on your part.

For the benefit of those who have not yet been dragged into the 20th century and aren't ready to be dragged into the 21st, I'll reproduce the contents of the training web page piecemeal in this space every month --- I'll only include information about the current month's events, but I'll try to be detailed about it. The page itself will have all upcoming events and descriptions of them as such information becomes available.

Here's what I've planned for the first few months of the year:

Just as we established this past year, members are expected to arrive at the training within 15 minutes of the start time in order to receive credit for having attended. Only the weekend trainings will count as "trainings" for the purpose of determining active-membership status, but the pre-meeting presentations and trainings hosted by other teams may appear in the training schedule and all are encouraged to participate.

While I'm encouraging people to participate, I'd really, really like to see more people showing up to the various trainings that we hold this year. For my part, I'll try not to get into a rut where every training is just like the last one you attended, but it's hard to be inspired in planning trainings when only 3 people show up. Let's see as close to 100% participation as we can get, OK?

I've begun to get in touch with other team's training officers in the hopes that they might welcome us to their trainings, and to invite them to ours. If this pans out, I will list other team's training opportunities in our calendar and on the training website. While I encourage you to obtain the broadest range of training you can and will work towards facilitating that, only Cibola weekend trainings will count for the purposes of mission-participation status; I remind you that Cibola requires that you attend two trainings every six months in order to take field assignments at missions under our auspices.

I look forward to a good year with you all, and hope I fill this position well enough for you to be happy with having been stuck with me.

Oh, one other thing. Susan Corban's been setting up these hikes of the month. Let's thank her by going on a few of them.

Hike of the MonthBear Canyon Hike and Map & Compass Practice0800, Jan 31, 1999
Trailhead: East End of Spain NE
R.T. Distance: 4 milesElevation Min/Max: 6200/7200
Hiking Time 2.5 hoursHazards:
Topo Maps: Sandia Crest Quadrangle
Drive to the far east of Spain NE until you reach the Open Space parking lot at the end of the dirt road. As is true anywhere in the foothills, this area is heavily used by mountain bikers, hikers, dog-walkers, runners, and some horses. Take the trail that runs east from the parking lot to the National Forest Boundary fence line. From the fence, travel east again until the junction with trail 503. Follow 503 east to its easternmost segment. At the bottom of the arroyo is an east-bound trail blocked with cholla debris, indicating probited access. Follow 503 a short distance to the top of the next rise to the north. Trail 503 meets a fence along private property. A few buildings are visible in the next arrroyo from the ridge top. Follow the trail that goes east along the fence line and up in elevation. Climb as high as the large rock point in view above you, or into the forest just above for great views of the surrounding area. Mountain lions, deer and fewer earthlings have been sighted from this point. This trail reaches a wide, flat area at 7040' in elevation. We'll stop there to practice map and compass and GPS skills. I will bring photocopies of this portion of the Sandia Crest Quadrangle 7.5 minute series for members to use. I want to match the UTMs on my map with the reading on my GPS, practice resection, etc. This is NOT a test! You can compare with your neighbor.
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Pinching Pennies by Mike Dugger
Although you were pretty much stuck with me as Treasurer for the coming year, I hope to do the job as well as Melissa did for the past three years. I'm grateful that she hung in there that long, and she has earned a break. Not before she brings me up to speed, though! This will take a little time, but there is already one initiative I am certain of. The collection of fuel receipts and dispersement of payments was a big part of this job, and the source of a fair amount of frustration. I intend to change that.

In order to relieve some of the burden on yours truly, I will not accept fuel vouchers that are not filled out completely and correctly. Come on, it is not rocket science. I expect present members to know this stuff. The Membership Officer and I will make sure that the correct procedure is communicated to new members during their orientation. Here's the basic process:

  1. Note how much fuel you have, or your mileage, at the start of a mission. My personal method is to jot down the odometer reading along with my other mission information when I get into my truck to go to the mission.
  2. When the mission is over, note how much fuel you ACTUALLY USED on the mission. Perhaps you started with a full tank, and then refilled immediately after the mission. My personal method is to jot down my mileage when I get back to home or work from the mission. I know the gas mileage of my truck, and can calculate how much fuel I used for a given mission from the miles driven.
  3. On the form supplied by Cibola, write your name, mission date, mission number, and how many gallons and cost of the fuel you used. If you have a leaky vehicle, indicate how much and the cost of any oil you used as well. Indicate whether you want to be reimbursed personally for the fuel charges, or you want this to go into the team coffers. My personal recommendation is to take the cash - you spent it, after all, and probably much more to participate. Don't forget to SIGN THE FORM.
  4. Write the mission number and date on your receipt, and attach it to the form. No reimbursement will be made without a receipt. Also indicate on the receipt how much of the fuel was used on the indicated mission. If you wait to fill up until the next time you need gas like I do, this amount may be less than the full amount of the receipt. If you went to multiple missions on one tank of gas, I need a separate form for each mission, but you may give me one receipt with the gallons and cost of fuel broken out for each mission written on the receipt.
It is important that the gas vouchers be filled out this way because I have to take all the individual vouchers and combine them into a single bill I submit to the state. I must have a receipt for all the gas I request payment for. When we get paid, I then write a team check to individuals for their gas expenses.

If the vouchers are not filled out as described above, I will give it back to you. You may fill out your own tax identification information with the state and submit your gas vouchers directly to the state if you wish, or take the 0.12 per mile as an itemized deduction for community service on your annual tax return. Cibola's handling of payment of gas by the state of New Mexico is a service to our members, intended to make it easier for you to get paid for your fuel expenses. Please help me to help you by filling out the forms correctly.

One final note. This may be obvious, but I want to make sure it is clear. The state fuel reimbursement budget is intended to pay you for getting from home or work to the mission, and back. If you respond to a mission from vacation in California, don't try to voucher gas to get you back to New Mexico! Vouchers that are out of line with others responding to a given mission will invite a request from your Treasurer to justify the expense. A nasty business that is best avoided. Back to Top
Who's Who and New by Susan Corban
Regarding new members:
Congratulations to Gene Mortimer, our newest active member. Gene, we're glad to have you with us. As new membership officer, I'd like to ask any new members to please contact me when ready for orientation. Anyone who's not ready for their orientation, but has questions is also welcome to contact me. I think I've figured it all out and I'm ready to roll.

For continuing members:
Mentors will be in demand soon. If you're willing to share your experience and knowledge with up-and-coming Cibola members, please let me know. Also, remember to update your address, phone number, email, or anything else that might have changed in your life that we keep on record. Back to Top
Gearing Up by Mike Dugger
I have collected all of the existing 800 MHz radios that Cibola is responsible for except three, and I hope to have those rounded up before the January business meeting. Thanks to everyone who got me their radio promptly - that made this process a lot less painful. I also hope to have unloaded all of these to the NM Emergency Services Council before the January meeting. I have no information on when these radios might be coming back to us, but a guaranteed route to mission communication is to become an amateur radio operator and purchase a radio. An obvious plug for our upcoming HAM class, sure. Saving for a radio might take some time, but in addition to being one of the largest single purchases for our "hobby," it is also one of the most important.

After reviewing the mission attendance data for the past six months, some changes in assignment of team-owned GPS will probably be made. I expect these reassignments to be made within the next couple of weeks. As always, the goal is to put this equipment in the hands of people who are the most active in missions, and don't yet own one. Back to Top
Coming Attractions by Tom Russo
We'll have a feature article on "The Suicidal Subject" next month, and with luck we'll have a speaker on the same subject for the pre-meeting presentation. Back to Top
Public Relations by Susan Corban
David Dixon will be taking on the duties of PR Chairman for the new year. Please lend your support to David as he pursues the team recruitment goal in 1999. Larry M. is urging us to shoot for a fifty percent increase in team membership. There are numerous programs scheduled throughout the year where members will need to pitch in to sit at information tables, make presentations to volunteer organizations, solicit newspaper coverage, etc. If you can help with just one of these, it will make a difference!

Thanks to everyone who has helped get recruitment activities up and running. I've had fun working with all of you on PR activities. Back to Top
Web News by Tom Russo
Most of this month's web development is invisible, as it involves the maintenance of the scripts that control database entry. One thing that did get fixed was the guestbook script which broke when I migrated to the MySQL server last month. Thank you to all the members who called in the bugs and were patient while I fixed them.
The team website can be accessed at http://www.cibolasar.org/
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NMESC Notes by Nancy O'Neill
The ESCAPE committee met this past Sunday to solidify the tracks and classes for this year's Escape. We have six tracks (as opposed to last year's 11 tracks) and more practical field work in some of these classes. A "mostly solid" list is as follows: Search techniques, Map and compass, Land navigation with field exercise, "Climbing skills for ground pounders," Scene preservation (taught by someone from OMI), "How to pick a SAR puppy," First aid for dogs, "Airscent Basics," "Problem solving/weather problems for Airscent," "Air OPs in SAR," "Practical Air Ops" (actual load 'em up - dogs and humans), ATV/Maintenance, ATV field with useage of High lifts combined, FC update, "Critters in SAR," "Mission: start to finish," Fatigue, Stress Management, "Critical Incident Stress Debriefing," APRS field exercise, Low and High Angle hands on, Celestial navigation (i.e. if nothing else works, where am I?), Desert survival, and "Safety in the Vertical Environment." We have combined the "Family Night" with the "Wild and Wooly night": we will be having a Star Party with a noted amateur astronomer and the chance to view the beautiful celestial sights over at the observatory and through volunteer astronomer's telescopes. So when I say "Wild and Wooly" I mean you will need wool and not cotton! The wetbar became too much of a safety/security issue to pursue. The pool, which will be open for use during the day, was too expensive to have open at night, but I think you will enjoy the Saturday night presentation by a meteorologist that will tie into the Star Party. If you care to imbibe, you have the nightlife of Socorro establishments and your own room in which to enjoy that. There will be registration info in the next issue of the NMESC newsletter. I hope to see all of you there at ESCAPE! '99. Back to Top
Using Dogs in Search and Rescue: An Introduction for the Ground Pounder by Mary Berry
Historically, dogs have been used in Europe for SAR work since the 1800s. Monks at Mount St. Bernard Hospice (in the Alps) were known to use dogs to search for travelers lost in snowstorms. The classic notion of the St. Bernard dog, wearing a small cask of Brandy under his chin, came from this historical beginning. Dogs have also been used in wars to search for wounded soldiers, as well as to search for the enemy. Today, dogs are used extensively in Europe for SAR work, and in America they are being used more and more. In New Mexico, there are five dog teams, Cibola SAR's canine unit being one of them.

For most ground pounders, the idea of using a dog to help search is a cool idea, but how a dog can do this job is a complete mystery to them. And the question always comes to mind, are they really any help? The answer is yes. However, sometimes it is more obvious than others.

To understand how a dog can "sniff out" the subject lost in the woods, a person must have some understanding of the characteristics of scent (human scent in this case). It is generally accepted that human scent is a combination of dead skin cells, gases, and oils that are produced by our bodies. This scent is then mixed with things we put on our bodies like perfumes, lotions, and soaps. As a result, each and every one of us has our own individual scent which begins with our DNA, and is added to by how we live, what we eat, drink and smoke, which laundry detergents we use, and whether our emotional state is calm and relaxed or panic-stricken. This scent mixture emanates from our bodies constantly (just like Pig Pen in the Charlie Brown comic strip). Once scent has fallen from our bodies, it is at the mercy of air currents, temperature and humidity. After leaving the body, some scent will fall to the ground and stick to nearby vegetation. Air currents will pick up the rest and deposit it on trees or other vegetation, or fences or buildings, or whatever else is around. If the wind is strong, there may actually be more scent deposited farther away than the spot where the subject is actually standing. Temperature and humidity affect scent in different ways. High temperatures and dryness will cause the scent to desiccate quickly. High humidity and cool or moderate temperatures will help scent to stay around longer. A light drizzling rain can help rehydrate scent and stick it to the ground, but a hard rain will dilute it and wash it all away. In our climate, we are most often dealing with low humidity and scent just drying up!

Now, let's consider the dog's nose. It is well known that dogs have a keen sense of smell. But what does that really mean anyway? One way to put it into perspective is to compare the dog's sense of smell to the human sense of sight. We recognize many shapes, colors, and textures and have developed a vast vocabulary to describe them. Not only do we see the front of our house, we also see the shape of the roof and the color of the stucco. We see the walkway to the front door; curtains dangling in the windows, a small doorbell by the door, the large picture window, and even whether the window is dirty or clean. Dogs categorize scent in a similarly detailed way. They can recognize a particular odor in a human scent mixture that enables them to find a certain family member at the summer family reunion. There have even been studies that claimed a dog could use his sense of smell to tell identical twins apart! Some dogs have a better sense of smell than others do. This is due mostly to differences in nose length. The longer the nose, the more nerve cells the dog has that are responsible for smelling (olfactory neurons). So in general, a German Shepherd dog will have a keener sense of smell than an English Bulldog. However, many dogs have an equal sense of smell. It is through training that the SAR dog becomes more proficient at what comes naturally to him.

There are two basic methods that are taught to dogs for SAR work. Understanding the similarities and the differences between the two types enables the dogs to be used more effectively on a SAR mission. Whether a dog is taught one method or the other is dependent upon what the handler is interested in teaching him, and which method the dog is more naturally suited for. Whichever method is taught, a dog should not be used on a mission if he (and his handler) has not taken a mission-ready evaluation. (Ugh, standards again.) Most dogs require a minimum of two years of training before they are ready to be evaluated. Passing such an evaluation is the only way to prove that the dog is worthy of being in the field.

The first method of SAR dog training is called Area Airscent. These dogs are usually worked off leash and the search team is assigned a search area. The team covers the search area in somewhat of a grid pattern, using the wind direction to dictate how the actual searching is done. The dog runs out in front and from side to side of the handler, checking the wind and vegetation for any evidence of human scent. If scent is found, the dog begins to follow the scent (somewhat like how we follow the wafting scent of grilling steaks to our neighbor's backyard). The handler will note a change in the dog's body language at this time. When the dog successfully follows the scent and finds the subject, he will perform a trained alert. The most common alert taught for wilderness Airscent dogs is for the dog to run back to the handler and bark or jump up at him, and then lead him to the subject (called a re-call, re-find alert). The alert will vary from dog to dog, and is limited only by the handler's imagination and personality of the dog. A smart handler will teach the dog an alert that comes naturally to the dog. Area Airscent dogs are used most effectively when they are assigned to areas that do not have other searchers in it, because they will alert on anyone. (The dog doesn't know for whom he is searching.) So, the dog may alert on other searchers, hikers, or mountain bikers in the area. This is OK. In training, the dog has become used to finding more than one subject in the area, and will continue to search even after finding one person. These dogs are well suited for use in areas of heavy vegetation and downfall, and work well at night. Because the dogs run around "casting" for the scent, they will cover a lot more ground than a person can, and will provide a higher POD of the area than a groundpound team with an equal number of searchers. Breeds of dogs that are best suited for this method of training are the working breeds, such as Retrievers, German Shepherd dogs, and herding dogs such as Border Collies and Cattle Dogs. Many mixed breed dogs work well too. They need to be very energetic and eager to learn things for a reward such as food or a game of Tug-of-War, for example. Because they work off leash, this method also requires that the dog be well obedience trained.

The second method of SAR dog training is called Tracking/Trailing. These dogs are usually worked in a harness and on a long leash and are assigned to begin searching at the Place Last Seen (PLS). A scent article from the subject is given to the dog to smell, and when given the search command, the dog follows the general trail of scent that the subject made as he left the PLS. These dogs check the vegetation and air currents to detect the scent of the subject, and follow where it leads. The handler follows along behind, and goes where the dog takes him (the dog is in charge basically). Eventually, the dog catches up with the subject. Most Tracking/Trailing dogs used for wilderness SAR exclusively are not trained to do a particular find alert because the handler is right there with the dog when he makes the find (remember, the dog is on leash the whole time). These dogs are most effectively used to establish the direction of travel the subject made from the PLS, and can be used while there are other searchers in the area because the dog knows who he is looking for and should ignore everyone else (this is called scent discrimination). These dogs must have a starting place where the scent of the subject is known to be (a PLS), and there also must be a scent article available. Getting the scent article can sometimes be a nuisance and delay getting into the field. Usually, the Mission Initiator or Field Coordinator will collect the scent article from family members, but occasionally the dog handler will be asked to do it. Freshly worn clothing or other articles that are handled only by the subject (e.g. purse, hairbrush, or toy) make the best scent articles. However, a footprint can also be used. In addition, scent articles can be made by wiping the subject's car steering wheel or seat with a sterile gauze pad, for example. The likelihood of finding pertinent clues is increased in the area where the Tracking/Trailing dog goes. Breeds of dogs that are best suited for this method of training are primarily hounds used for hunting. The Bloodhound has a long history of being used for hunting people. However, many other breeds are very successful at Tracking/Trailing, including the working breeds mentioned above. In general, the best Tracking/Trailing dog is independent by nature, and is not particularly concerned about pleasing anyone but himself. This is actually an advantage because the dog needs to be single-minded in his determination that "the scent is THIS WAY you stupid human!" Fortunately, these dogs do not need to be as highly obedience trained as Area Airscent dogs since they are on leash for their search work.

This summary of how wilderness SAR dogs are trained and used covers only the most common methods. There are many permutations of these methods, so you may see a few things done differently if you are given a field support assignment. Of course, we have not discussed less common uses of SAR dogs, such as Cadaver search, Disaster search, and Avalanche search. These are equally interesting ways to use a dog for SAR, and some dogs are cross-trained to one of these specialties after they have become proficient at one of the wilderness methods. Those of us who train dogs for SAR do it because we think dog training is fun, and discovering how a dog uses his nose to "sniff it out" is fascinating. We must love it because no other resource in SAR trains four hours a week, month after month, year after year.

As you have probably surmised by now, there is a multitude of things that can make using a dog as a resource on a mission successful, or not. The weather, and how it has affected scent, is a major factor. Add in the "dark of the night", difficult topography, an inaccurate PLS, and the subject wandering around in circles for hours, and you have a complex problem for the dog and handler to figure out. Dog handlers can get pretty frustrated. Having good field support is essential at this point. Here are a few suggestions for field support ground pounders:

  1. Keep your eyes on the ground, looking for clues such as footprints, candy wrappers, etc. There is a natural tendency to want to watch the dog. Be assured that the handler is already doing that. Your first duty is to be clue aware.
  2. Be a good navigator. The dog handler may lose his sense of direction because the dog is circling around due to scent conditions. This is especially a problem at night.
  3. Be prepared to be the communications person. If the dog is working fast, it is difficult for the handler to talk on the radio and watch their dog at the same time.
  4. Stay behind the dog. Having a person immediately in front of a dog may distract him. If you find yourself in front, just stand still and wait for the dog to pass you.
  5. Don't get frustrated! This can be difficult when the dog seems to be circling around a lot, zigzagging, and apparently getting nowhere. Understand that the dog is problem solving, and that working the scent can be tricky.
  6. Don't pet or praise the dog except by permission of the handler. The dog is searching for a subject who he thinks will be the only one to praise and reward him. Praise from bystanders can be confusing.
  7. Idle chitchat with the dog handler may be welcomed or discouraged. At times, the handler may need to concentrate on their dog to such an extent that it is difficult to carry on much of a conversation at the same time.
  8. If working with a Tracking/Trailing dog, you may be asked to retain the scent article for future use. This article will most likely be in a plastic bag. After the dog has taken scent, pick up the bag without touching the article inside, close it, and stick it in your backpack.
  9. Lighten your load. Working with a dog team can sometimes be at a quick pace. Be prepared to "move out," especially at the beginning of the search.
  10. If in doubt about what to do, or not do, ask the dog handler. Everyone's style is slightly different.

Hopefully, this introduction has helped the reader gain insight into the thought processes of the dog unit when on a search. It is all about solving a huge scent puzzle, something which the handler knows a lot about, but cannot smell, see, or touch. The handler depends on the dog to be true to his job (search!), and the dog depends on the handler to have faith in him ("I SAID, the scent is THIS WAY!") As an observer of this dynamic, a field support ground pounder can have an experience different than the usual hasty trail search or line search. It can be interesting and fun, and hopefully result in a find! 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. TML>