Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc. Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc.


March 2014

The Great Ski Race
     Two cancelled races in the last three years.  What's up with that? I suppose that is the $1 million dollar question and if we had the answer, a lot of things like cloud seeding and the resorts blowing snow might not be necessary.  What can you do, though, except play the hand you're dealt?  The North Tahoe region has been dealt another dog of a hand snow pack-wise this season.  While the first half of the TGSR course was in decent shape, the second half was more suited for mountain biking or trail running. 
     There was some outside the box thinking this year and we considered the possibility of moving the race up to Royal Gorge (many thanks to Jojo Toeppner for help with this option), but after much discussion, deliberating, hand wringing and burning of skis, the team made the decision to cancel the race again this year.  It was a very difficult decision to make but ultimately we had to respect the fact that The Great Ski Race has become such an widely anticipated community event with such high standards, that the team would rather have disappointment from not putting on the race, then from putting on a sub-par event merely for the sake of doing it. 
So thank you to everyone who worked hard to pull off this year's race.  We'll be back next year! 

Roger The Wayward Hiker
     The team was paged out on the evening of Feruary 25th for a lost hiker on the Tahoe Rim Trail east of Highway 267.  The lost hiker reported that he was disoriented and cold.  Dispatch told him to stay put and not much time passed before ten searchers and three comm van personnel (including one pug dog) responded to the TRT trailhead.  Placer County Sheriff had received four cell phone pings, three of which were consistent and one outlier.  The search teams zeroed in on the three grouped pings and at approximately 9:15PM, the MP was found .1 miles from the cell phone pings.  The hiker was still cold, wet and anxious to get out but in otherwise good condition.  All searchers and the lost hiker returned to the incident command post at approximately 10PM.

Plane Crash In Juniper Meadows
     On March 3rd at approximately 11AM the Placer County Sheriff called asking that snowmobiles be put on standby for possible response to a downed aircraft in the Juniper Meadows area.  At 11:25AM the Sheriff requested both snowmobiles and the snowcat respond to a confirmed downed aircraft.  The California HIghway Patrol helicopter in the area, H24, was able to locate the aircraft and provide approximate GPS coordinates.  Unfortunately the deteriorating weather situation forced H24 to return to the Truckee Airport shortly after obtaining the plane's position.  At around this time, the Nordic 2 snowmobile team left the Martis Peak Road/Turnout and arrived on scene approximately twenty minutes later.  Using both radio communication and flagging attached to trees, Nordic 2 guided in the TNSAR snowcat which carried four North Tahoe firemen.  Upon their arrival, the pilot was stabilized and evacuated via the snowcat while the another snowmobile team retrieved a rescue sled and arrived shortly after to recover the passenger.
     The FAA requested that the team disable the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) so the access panel under the tail was removed and the ELT was switched off.  The team made it's way back to the incident command post and everyone was headed home by 6PM.

Additional links:
KCRA TV News Story
Fox 40 TV News Story

Upcoming Trainings
March 13th, Thursday -- Comm Van and Nat Geo Topo! Training
    Where: Burton Creek Sheriffs Dept.
    When: 6pm Burton Creek Sheriffs Dept.
    Contact: Chris McConnell ; Kim Bromley (use current callout list for phone #)
If you are interested in getting involved with TNSAR this is one of the faster ways to participate. This is a how-to and inside tour of the comm van. This is an excellent opportunity to contribute to the team. The comm van team can make a huge difference in the overall SAR experience and this training will get you ready to join the team at the next SAR. Food, Drinks and Prizes will be given out, don't miss it!

April 25th, Friday -- WEMT/WFR Refresher
    Where: SV Community Room
    When: 8am SV Room
    Contact: Steve Reynaud (use current callout list for phone #)
We have a WEMT and WFR Refresher Course for the weekend of 4/25-4/27. This course requires pre registration to attend.

Potential Team Garage Expansion
     For quite a while there has been a discussion about whether the team should expand the garage to alleviate some our existing space concerns.  The team has plans drawn up and has been communicating with TCPUD in an effort to move this direction.  If you have feedback on this issue, please reach out to one of the team officers or board members and be heard. Your voice is vital.

Shiny, New Dispatch System
     The team will be phasing in a new dispatch system before too long that will greatly improve the effectiveness of page outs.  The PCSO has entered into an agreement with a vendor named Everbridge.  Everbridge provides, "interactive communication and mass notification services to all major industries and government sectors", and will enable the team to send batch page outs whereby all selected team members will receive simultaneous notifications via land line, cell phone and email. No more working down the phone list from a to z.  Stay tuned to see when exactly we will be phasing this in. 

Excuse Me, Sir, You're Stepping On My Kortelopet
     In good news on the nordic skiing front, a group of seven team members ventured out to  the remote arctic environs of Wisconsin to ski in the 2014 American Birkebeiner.  It was truly an adventure as the area recently received a ton of new snow and daytime temps were in the single digits.  To make things more challenging, the cabin they were to stay in was inaccessible due to the overwhelming snow accumulation, so all of a sudden, they had no lodging.  Things got desperate and at one point Doug Read was heard to chat up a complete stranger in the restroom, hoping they might have some extra space for his crew.  Somehow new accommodations (less than a mile from the start line) were secured and everyone settled in for race day.
     Race time conditions were healthy overnight snowfall accumulations, 2 degrees with a welcoming 15 degree head wind.  (There had been so much new snow that the changing tent was crushed under the weight of the new snow.  To the relief of all ten thousand racers, the adjoining beer and brat did not meet the same fate. ) So the TNSAR racers took off, each to embark on their own individual epic and as luck would have it, our crew finished in a pretty small time window and were able to re-group and celebrate at the finish line.

Other Plane Crashes in Truckee/Tahoe History
     On the morning of the Martis Peak crash, I was reading the Sierra Sun and learned that March 1 was the fiftieth anniversary of the worst plane crash in Tahoe's history.  On the morning of March 1st, 1964, Paradise Airlines flight 901A departed Oakland bound for the Lake Tahoe Airport.  There was a report of unsettled weather in the Tahoe Basin but the dispatcher made some of his own assessments and determined that weather would be favorable.
You can read the full story as printed in the Tahoe Daily Tribune here.

     On the morning of March 19th, 1946, a U.S. Army C47 transport plane departed Stockton bound for Denver.  The plane carried twenty six army and navy personnel who were enroute to various separation centers and ultimately, discharge.  As eyewitnesses described it, the plane, "exploded like a puff of fire". 
Here is a link to a reprint of the original 1946 Fresno Bee Story as well as one of the pieces from the Lost Flight Series which was a series of stories done by the Fresno Bee.

Aeronautical Tracking Systems
     In the U.S. planes continuously broadcast their exact coordinates to the FAA and this data is then released on a 3-5 minute delay.  Europe has been recently installing new hardware in their planes called ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) which broadcasts coordinates almost instantly. The US is expected to have all planes equipped with ADS-B equipment by 2020.
If you are interested in planes, check out this website:
     I've only fooled around with this website a little bit but apparently if you get the pro version (costs $) on the app, you can point your phone at any plane in the sky and get all of its info.  Here's how it works:  the GPS on your phone knows where you are, the accelerometer knows which direction the phone is facing, cross reference this with known plane locations and there you have it!

The goal of TNSAR is to conduct fast and safe rescues, and to help educate the public on winter safety. If you would like to help TNSAR in this cause, please use the following PayPal donate link. Thanks!

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