Weaver Point Training

Members of RAT-SAR were back out at Little River Canyon’s Weaver Point today replacing a loose anchor bolt (with permission from the Park Service) since so many recreational rappelers use this place. While there, we decided to get some skills practice in, as well as trying a couple of different techniques. We placed a gin pole just for the setup practice and ran a two-rope system instead of single rope for belay practice. Couldn’t ask for better weather or a more beautiful place to spend the day. We extend our thanks to Little River Canyon for allowing us to practice skills both for recreation and rescue training.

Search and Recovery

On Wednesday, members of RAT-SAR assisted in the search and recovery for a 24-year-old man whose life was claimed by a fatal fall on Monday at Whitewater Falls in NC. His body was recovered Wednesday afternoon.

We also mourn the loss of a rescue team member from the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad, who tragically lost his life in this search on Monday.

Weekend Training

Members of RAT-SAR practiced single rope technique this weekend at Weaver Point in Little River Canyon. Being able to efficiently and safely work on a single line is a huge benefit to lightweight rescue teams since it reduces the number of resources required, as well as lowering the stress on the patient rescue system.

The gear and techniques used during the Weaver Point practice session consisted of Imlay Canyonero 9.2mm static rope, BMS micro racks, Petzl GriGris, and a mix of frogging and rope walking techniques. Descents, changeovers and ascents with Osprey SAR packs were practiced on this 190’ vertical drop.

Missing Mountain Bikers Found

Ten members from RAT-SAR responded Monday, April 13 to a request from Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office in the search for two missing mountain bikers who had been out all weekend and not returned as planned. The bikers were reported missing Sunday evening by family members. Local volunteers, law enforcement and Alabama State Trooper air assets were also on scene searching for the subjects in a heavily forested area of the Bankhead National Forest. Members of RAT-SAR arrived on scene at approximately 1300 along with team members from Lawrence County Sheriff’s search team. After initial planning, three ground search hasty teams were dispatched to high-probability areas. At approximately 5 PM the missing subjects were located alive and well by volunteer searchers driving a perimeter road. The subjects were tired and hungry but otherwise in good physical condition. Our thanks to Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and all the volunteers who responded to bring this to a successful conclusion.

COVID-19 Status

RAT-SAR is still responding but with limited resources due to the COVID-19 outbreak. If your agency needs assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Haywood County SAR / RAT-SAR Training

With the hiking and backpacking season fast approaching, members of RAT-SAR spent the weekend with Haywood county (NC) wilderness SAR team training for search and rescue operations in the mountains of western North Carolina. Mission planning, mapping, searching, patient packaging, and rescue raises and lowers were practiced. It’s always great sharing knowledge and working with the professionals of Haywood County SAR.

Lawrence County SAR

Several members of the RAT-SAR team worked the weekend training the newly formed Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office Multi-Agency SAR team. Lawrence county covers a large portion of the Sipsey Wilderness in the Bankhead National Forest. This wilderness area includes rugged terrain, high angle elevation and numerous watercourses and waterfalls. We completed a 2-day land navigation course this weekend and will be rolling out a tracking/clue awareness course and survival course next. From there we will move towards field team member certifications and specialized rescue courses designed around the terrain found in the Sipsey Wilderness. RAT-SAR will be assisting Lawrence County in future callouts to the Bankhead National Forest, as well helping to organize SAR efforts in the area.

MSAR Operations

Round two of North Carolina’s Mountain Rescue class (MSAR) brought together team members from various SAR organizations for 3-days of training in the North Carolina mountains. This Operations level class is all about patient access, packaging, movement, lowers and raises in a high-angle environment.

RAT-SAR Member Contributes to Tennessee Cave Mapping

L to R: Ken Oeser, Jason Lovvorn, and Donovan McCord after a cave survey trip in middle Tennessee.

Navigation is critical during any rescue. Local knowledge of an area matters, but it also helps to have maps, and such tools can be especially important during a cave rescue.

In the TAG (Tennessee Alabama Georgia) area, dedicated organizations such as the Tennessee Cave Survey, Alabama Cave Survey, and Georgia Speleological Survey work to survey regional caves and produce maps. While these maps are not public documents, they are important resources for scientists studying karst features and for rescue squads that extract patients after accidents.

RAT-SAR charter member Jason Lovvorn has recently been learning the art of cave mapping—including survey work, map sketching, and map production—under the tutelage of Ken Oeser, who has mapped 270 caves (over 65 miles), mostly in the state of Tennessee. So far, Lovvorn has worked on three surveys connected to TCS maps, and he hopes to contribute to many more such efforts in 2020.

CERT Training

RAT-SAR recently conducted a 4-hour Introduction to Search and Rescue class for C.E.R.T. personnel (Community Emergency Response Team) in Whitfield County GA. Topics covered were basic wilderness survival, putting together a kit or backpack to have while assisting with SAR callouts, and basic human tracking, clue awareness, and grid searches. The class was divided up into two evening sessions, the first in the classroom, and the second in the field. We will be doing some basic Land Navigation with them sometime this summer.