|Top of the Hill||Boots and Blisters||Pinching Pennies|
|Who's Who and New||Gearing Up||Mini Lesson|
|Public Relations||NMESC Notes||Feature Article|
|Top of the Hill||by Larry Mervine|
Physical Reactions: changes in sleep patterns, changes in appetite, stomach trouble, shakes/chills, diarrhea or constipation, headache, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeats, Mental/ Emotional Reactions: depression / confusion, self criticism, blaming self& others, anger/ guilt, dreams or flashbacks, identfication with victims, noticing similarities between victims, and own family members, Behavioral Reactions: withdrawing/excessive talking, irritability, hyperactivity or excessive fatigue,
Some useful things to accelerate your return to normal:
exercise intensely, share your feelings with others, family or team members, allow your emotions to come out, safely with or without help, write it down, connect with your spiritual strength, eat a healthy diet, avoid extra sugar, cafferine alcohol and tobacco, postpone major decisions
Only you know how you feel, but you are not alone nor the only one with similar reactions. These reactions are the result of an abnormal event. You are experiencing the stress from a critical incident. So watch fellow team members. Do not be critical, but rather be understanding. One day you might be the one feeling bad. If you are experiencing a problem call the hot line or talk to other team members.
|Boots and Blisters||by Tom Russo|
On reporting UTM coordinates from your GPS: Next, remember how clearly I explained why it was useless to read GPS displays to all digits of precision? My doctor has prescribed one large crow to be taken orally each day: there's a good reason for reading the display exactly as it appears. Yes, the unit is only accurate to the nearest 100 meters, but if you perform the truncation in your head you add one more thing that can go wrong in your communication with base camp. So this is why you might be asked for all the digits, not because someone in base camp thinks they are useful, but because someone in base camp wants to make absolutely certain that you read it correctly. This point was made crystal clear during our January land navigation training.
At one point during the course one of our team members who had a new GPS unit decided to use it to report a position. The transmission, which was attempted in kilometers with truncation, was:
Ok... we're at 376.09 Easting and 38804.67 North
There were two things wrong with that. For starters, if you're going to report kilometers with one digit past the decimal point, only put one digit past the decimal point. And then make sure you put the decimal point in the right place. Properly truncated and converted from meters to kilometers, the team member's position would have been 376.1 Easting and 3880.5 Northing. The people at "incident base" were left to re-interpret this transmission and make assumptions about what went wrong. The assumption was "Oh, the last digit of easting was dropped, and the decimal place in the northing is shifted one over" but this was not necessarily what had happened. In fact, any of the easting digits could have been dropped and we wouldn't have known which one it was. A follow-up transmission from Training Incident Base cleared it up:
Um... did you mean "376.1 easting and 3880.5 northing?But then again, since the whole reason for truncating would have been to shorten transmissions, we clearly accomplished nothing and actually accomplished even worse than nothing.
So to make a long story just one more paragraph longer, you shouldn't do interpretation of your GPS screen yourself --- just pass along information and let the incident management team do the interpretation and truncation. BUT it would still be correct to read coordinates off your map to be precise only to the 100 or 10 meter digit,and in this case it would be OK to read in kilometers with a decimal point, because the position of the decimal point would be obvious to you from the labeling of the UTM grid on the map. But whatever you do: if you're asked to do differently by incident command, do as you are asked!
I won't write up any more about this training here, but I have written up a "debriefing" page on the website --- it includes maps of the training area, and when I get some in writing, it will include feedback from participants. There was sufficient positive feedback given that I'm thinking I might do this one again in September, if folks would like it.
Please note that nothing prevents evaluators from arranging evaluation sessions at other times, too. So far, we have Mike Dugger and Terry Hardin certified as litter evaluators, and Larry Mervine and Mike Dugger are certified as search techniques and land nav evaluators. ANYONE may ask to be certified as an evaluator, and having asked may be certified if the following conditions are met:
On future trainings: I've got the following trainings "planned" for after ESCAPE:
|July||Search Techniques (evening/night?)|
|September||Map and Compass?|
|Hike of the Month||Otero Canyon||0800, Feb 27, 1999|
|Trailhead: 3.8 miles south of 4-way stop in Tijeras on Hwy 337 South|
|R.T. Distance: 4 miles||Elevation Min/Max: 6800/7200|
|Hiking Time 4 hours||Hazards: Fast-moving mountain bikers|
|Topo Maps: Sedillo Quadrangle|
|Pinching Pennies||by Mike Dugger|
The budget committee will meet as soon as possible after we receive our annual statement of contributions from United Way and the Combined Federal Campaign. This usually takes place late in February, so check the team hotline weekly for information on this meeting. We will plan the team's budget for the year based on anticipated expenditures and income. Everyone is invited to participate in drafting a budget for approval by the team. Committee chairmen and officers should submit their budget requests to me as soon as possible, but no later than the budget meeting.
|Who's Who and New||by Susan Corban|
Steve Meserole is now an active member. Welcome aboard.
|Gearing Up||by Mike Dugger|
I have established a rotation of people who volunteered to haul our gear to missions and act as pager #2 point of contact, and these are now part of our phone list. I hope we can now just rotate through this list each month to determine the pager #2/gear-hauler, and all people performing that job have a quick reference for others who know how to do it. If you have a vehicle with a large cargo capacity, and would be willing to haul our gear to missions one month out of every 6 or so, please let me know.
|Mini Lesson||by Mike Dugger|
Some sources for these solid fuels are: Armed Forces Merchandise Outlet (www.afmo.com/scategory/scat-32.html, (800) 282-3327), 18 bars trioxane for $4.50, or 6 hexamine tablets for $1.49. IMS Plus (www.imsplus.com/ims28.html, (618) 655-0383), 3 bars trioxane for $1.00, case of 250 boxes for $150, or 5 hexamine tablets for $1.75, case of 500 tablets for $145.
Sterno cans are the same kind of heaters used under those big dishes of food at a buffet. It consists of a little sealed can of wax, which is solid when not in use so it stores easily. These are cheap but can be hard to find, so buying in quantity is probably the answer here too. For heating, simply open the can, light the top of the wax, and place it under your pot. When you are done cooking, they can be blown out to allow the wax to solidify, then closed up and stuffed back in your pack. These are also quite rugged and convenient since they are solid except when in use. I suppose on a really hot day, if the lid were to come off you could end up with a mess inside your pack. But a sealed bag around the can would solve this potential problem. When all the fuel is gone, you have just a small can left to haul out to the trash.
Alcohol has been used as fuel in emergency stoves for decades. It does have the difficulties of transportation and potential mess of other liquid fuels, but it is not as oily or smelly as kerosene, and evaporates quickly if spilled. I found instructions to build a simple alcohol stove by M.M. Brown, American Survival Guide, Vol. 21 (1999) pp. 70-73. The basic idea for the burner is to cut off the bottom of two aluminum soda cans about 1.25 to 1.5 inches from the bottom. In one of the bottoms, drill 4 or5 holes in the center with a 1/16 inch bit, and then 16 to 32 holes around the outer edge where the can would rest on the table. Cut 4 to 6 slits in the side of this piece so it will fit down inside the other piece when inverted. The other bottom becomes the lower half of the stove, which is filled about 1/2 full with a porous material (ideally pearlite) and denatured alcohol. The top is put on, and the stove can be lit by passing a match over the top. It apparently burns for about 20 minutes. The author says that in a pinch, a rolled up piece of cotton can be used as the porous media, and rubbing alcohol as the fuel. I tried to build the stove this way, figuring that if I have to hunt up pearlite and denatured alcohol this was no more convenient than the solid fuels. When I built the stove this way, I could not even get it lit. Perhaps I did something wrong, and I invite the interested person with a little time on their hands to give this a try, but my rationale was that if the stove was this touchy in my kitchen, it was not reliable enough for SAR use.
|Public Relations||by David Dixon|
The PR Committee continues on with our goals for 1999. Our primary goal is a 50% increase in membership. We can all help with that. Do you know someone who would be a candidate for this busy, crazy and selfless world of search and rescue? Get them involved. It takes a special person like yourself. Maybe you know another one.
We are continuing to work on getting sources for presentations, especially recruitment. This month we're giving a short talk to Trailwatch Volunteers on their Trails Day, Saturday, Feb. 20 from 1:00-1:15p.m., and we could use a few members to help out with this one. On March 18 we'll be giving a presentation on Outdoor Preparedness at REI. Let me know if you're interested in these or anything in the future or if you know of a presentation source. PR events will be posted on the newsletter and hotline.
I will hold Committee meetings on the last Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Frontier Restaurant. But there will not be a meeting every month so look for them in the newsletter, hotline or email (to committee members). Everyone is welcome. If you want to become a permanent member let me know.
|Web News||by Tom Russo|
The training information database is accessible from the "database functions" section of the membersonly web page.
If you're a new member and haven't gotten on to the membersonly pages, please see me for the password.
Late Breaking News:Rumor has it that someone has actually logged in to the website with a user id of "wheezer." Film at 11.
The team website can be accessed at http://www.cibolasar.org/
|NMESC Notes||by Nancy O'Neill|
|Regarding Suicidal SAR Subjects||by Susan Corban and David Dixon|
Suicide is the number one killer of people between 15 and 19 years of age in the U.S. and third highest killer in those 19-25. While not all suicidal people travel to the wilderness, SAR volunteers will encounter suicidal subjects. What follows is written to help the search process and the encounter with a suicidal individual.
There are factors known to increase the risk of lethality. If the subject went out with a plan or specific intent the risk is higher. If any notes were left behind, that reflects planning and intent. Lethality also differs for male and female subjects. Femalse are more likely to attempt suicide, while male subjects are more likely to complete the suicide. Individuals who have attempted suicide repeatedly have the highest completion rate. Weapons or alcohol and drugs also increase lethality of an incident. Males are more likely to use firearms and weapons than females. An intoxicated or drugged person is more unpredictable. Know whether the subject entered the wilderness with a weapon. If they carried a gun, the search focus should be on tracking. Sound attraction will not work in this case since the subject is probably trying to avoid searchers.
On the other hand, if a subject was just depressed, the risk of lethality is lower. Someone who just lost a spouse or was recently divorced may be at a higher risk, but a person who is depressed is not necessarily suicidal.
These factors will provide strategy for incident command staff, but searchers can also ask questions about these factors to help when encountering the subject out in the wilderness. In a regular search it is always important to know some things about the subject. This is especially important with the suicidal person. Knowing some aspects of the person may make a difference when you confront that person. You may have to quickly assess the situation and respond accordingly.
As in any SAR situation, your personal safety and well-being should be priority. If an FC accepts a mission, and you do choose to search for a live but suicidal subject, and it becomes apparent that a weapon is involved, leave the area immediately. Once you are safe, call for law enforcement from the Forest Service or State Police. If other dangers are part of the situation (bad weather, subject on a cliff) your safety is still priority. You may not save this person's life. You may not prevent a suicide and you certainly don't want the subject to take you with them. If you encounter the subject, even without a weapon, stay at a distance of six feet or more.
Expect that it may take some time before the subject is ready to depart. For the subject, talking to a stranger about painful or personal information is not easy. The SAR volunteer can decrease the subject's stress by being relaxed, patient and accepting. Being a good listener is the most important thing. This means silencing your own judgements and values in order to provide a non-threatening situation for the subject. But remember that you cannot play God.
The following information reflects the approach taken by counselors and crisis centers. You might benefit from understanding the approach, but as SAR volunteers this is beyond the scope of our practice. If you are not willing or able to take the crisis counseling approach, at least remember to keep your voice even. Don't raise or lower your voice. Be singular in your purpose by letting the subject know, repeatedly, that you both need to "leave this ledge and return to base camp." Whatever the subject has to do, he or she must not do on your time in this place. And, very importantly, don't become entrapped in the subject's problems.
The subject may express feelings of depression, hopelessness, guilt, anger, betrayal, self-criticism and blame, and embarrassment. The subject may talk about their plan for suicide. Take all suicidal comments seriously. "All or nothing" thinking on the part of the subject reduces his or her sense of alternatives to "life or death." Developing a sense of other options is crucial to releasing the notion that suicide is the only alternative. Staying with that person until a sense of alternatives to what he or she is thinking or feeling develops may turn the situation.
If you can assess whether the person is just down and out or really wants to die, you will know just how lethal the suicide attempt may be. "I don't want to live" is very different from "I want to die." Is there fearfulness or looking forward to suicide? If there is immediate urgency, your need to buy time is greater. Tomorrow the person can commit suicide, but not while you have them in your contact. Remember, you're buying time, not fixing the problems.
After the person has had a chance to talk about his or her bad feelings for a while, gently turn the conversation to more positive things. Offer support and encouragement. Reinterpret in a positive manner. Talk about the person's courage in sharing with you. Discuss alternatives to the all or nothing thinking pattern. Remind the subject that hope exists. What support system can the person build? Remind the subject of resources for help. Encourage the person to take things one step at a time. Be genuine and direct. It's ok to let them know if you are uncomfortable. Avoid arguments, problem solving, advice giving or making the person feel the need to justify his or her feelings. Of course, don't tell the person that he or she is crazy.
It's usually good to get the person to talk. Often, the more the person talks, the more that he or she will come around. It may be necessary to be authoritative and take charge. Most people contemplating suicide do not want to die. Most do it as a cry for help or to end the pain they feel. Ask if it's ok to contact others to let them know the person is ok, that others care about them.
Try to terminate the situation with the person's agreement not to hurt him or herself before speaking to a professional or someone for help. Buy more time if this doesn't happen. If all else fails, deterring the person with guilt may buy time. Only use these if you are sure nothing else will work. (You don't want to make the person feel worse or add to the self-criticism.) Things like "how will your children (friends, family) feel? You'll leave them with guilt and pain. Who will take care of them?" or "You're copping out; you're taking the easy way out," or "I know you could kill yourself. But give yourself one last chance. It's your life!"
Searchers will also need to deal with their own feelings. A searcher's stress, discomfort, anxiety, impatience, judgements, and so forth need to be withheld in order to establish a rapport with the subject. This is a very stressful situation. Letting yourself go into the person's worst feelings with them will allow the person to find out that those feelings aren't as scary as they might have feared. But it's very demanding for the listener. After the encounter, talk to someone you trust about it.
Thanks to the UNM Agora Crisis Center, Carol Wagner-Adams, and Don Gibson for the information in this article.