Injured Backpackers Rescued Near Big Pine Mountain
Los Padres National Forest- December 29th, 2012
At approximately 12:30 p.m., Santa Barbara County Search And Rescue (SBCSAR), a volunteer rescue unit of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, responded to an electronic emergency distress signal near the area of Big Pine Mountain in the Dick Smith Wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest. As two individuals from the Los Angeles area were completing a three day backpacking trip, one of them suffered a lower leg injury near the Dutch Oven Campground approximately 3 1/2 miles southeast of Big Pine Mountain. Experiencing heavy rain and snow, the backpackers elected to activate a Personal Locating Beacon (PLB) they were carrying. A satellite picked up their distressed signal and relayed it to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, who in turned contacted the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Emergency Communications Center. Based on the initial coordinates picked up by the satellite and given the winter blizzard conditions in the backcountry, SBCSAR was paged out to respond for a winter rescue to locate the PLB and determine the nature of the emergency request. Four SBCSAR members were flown by County Air Support Unit Copter 3 through thundering clouds, snow and sleet to the coordinates and began an aerial search. Within a short time one of the backpackers wearing a bright red jacket was spotted on the ground. Unable to land directly at the location of the backpackers, Copter 3 located a landing spot where the SBCSAR members could be deployed. Hiking approximately 1/2 mile through a combination of mud and snow, SBCSAR personnel reached the two subjects and confirmed they were the ones that had activated the PLB. SAR Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) evaluated the pair and found that one of the hikers was suffering from an unstable lower leg injury. With the support of Search and Rescue personnel, the subjects were helped back through the snow drifts to Copter 3 and flown to Santa Ynez Airport where they were evaluated further by SAR EMTs and released.
Twelve (12) Search and Rescue members responded along with the aviation crew of Copter 3, which completed its first SAR mission after being officially commissioned into the County Air Support Unit two weeks ago.
For further information on this incident and SAR operations, contact SBCSAR PIO Nelson Trichler at (805) 698-0752.
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