Wednesday, March 16, 2016

365 True Things: 353/SAR

An abandoned property = attractant
Last July, and a couple times more since then, I've remarked in these posts that it's too long since I've been on a SAR call-out. Well, today broke the long dry spell.

I won't go into the details of the case, but it involves a hundred- foot fall off a cliff into a small surgy inlet backed by sea caves. Last week, members of my SAR team came out and searched as well they could. Today, the Sheriff's Office dive team finally had decent enough conditions to do a more thorough in-water search.

Looking south from our search site;
that's Bixby Bridge in the middle
One of the dive team told me on Monday that this joint effort was coming up, so I had time to prepare, mentally and physically (by packing my pack with harnesses, helmet, gloves, munchies, headlamp, water). When the page came yesterday, for an all-day effort today starting at 8 a.m., I responded immediately with a yes.

I really enjoy going on searches and rescues, but my participation has been so low this last year (i.e., nonexistent) that I feel like I've forgotten whatever skills I once had. In a way, I'm a beginner again. Which of course is okay—except the team leaders don't really get just how regressed I am. And so I worry that I'll be given some complicated task that I just don't know how to do. And someone will die as a result.

So rather than that happening, I've just been staying away.

Until today.

Alain spotting; I took his place
And of course, today, everything turned out fine.

What I too often forget is, we're a team. And my leaders actually do pay attention. And it's okay (one might even say preferable) for me to speak up if I'm uncomfortable with a task. (Even if I'm supposed to know how to do it.)

In the event, today's mission involved a fairly sophisticated "high-line" system that just a few of us understand really well (indeed, half our number today were newbies who know far less than even me), so there was plenty of direction. My tasks involved making anchors—tying webbing around trees, wrap-three-pull-two—pulling on ropes, and "spotting": perching at the cliff edge and making sure the divers were inserted and extricated okay, and communicating with Control. This last job was a bit challenging, but I had help across the gap—another pair of eyes. We were a team.

Diver descending
I also forget that, even if when the page comes I feel resistance, if I do respond, I'm always glad. Each mission is a unique opportunity for problem solving, cooperation, exertion, learning, and service—service to my team, but also to the community. And I love my team. Why do I keep losing sight of all that?

Now that I've broken the ice again, I'm going to try to be more responsive.

No, no: I'm going to be more responsive. Dammit. Today was a great day. I'm so glad I went.

(That said, a short while ago, at 7:26, a call came in for a cliff rescue at Mile Marker 22. No way I was going on that, after a long day, with a glass of wine at my elbow. Nine minutes later, the cancel page chimed through: MISSION CANCELLED SUBJ IS C4—meaning no further assistance needed. Praise the Lord, I say.)

As for the person we were searching for? All I can really say is, RIP. The other rubrics we have—"it's a shame," "too bad"—don't cover the tragedy of this case. So, Rest in Peace.

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