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By Rebecca Gourley

SAR conference showcases field skills, tracking, Insitu, Klickitat County


Rebecca Gourley

Klickitat County’s Litter Race team had the most interesting way of getting through a tight space obstacle, lifting the victim over their heads.

More than 500 people descended upon the Klickitat County Fairgrounds last week to learn more about search and rescue (SAR) trade skills as part of the annual Washington State SAR conference.

Classes offered to SAR members ranged from ATV operations to the ancient skills of man tracking. Some 550 hours of training were offered by 63 instructors in more than 100 classes throughout the week.

Saturday, the public was invited to attend a demonstration of different SAR skills. “Trevor,” an explosives-trained SAR beagle, put on a show as he searched the Bill Conboy Arena for the previously planted scent article of accelerant-stained wood. It didn’t take a minute for Trevor to start digging under a cone where the wood was placed and indicate to his handler, Linda Phelps, that he found something of interest.

Also part of the demonstration was the “Litter Race.” Teams from several of the counties that were present were given the challenge of strapping a “victim” into the litter (a stretcher-like piece of equipment used to carry victims out of dangerous areas), and carrying him or her through different obstacles. The crowd went wild when Klickitat County had the most ingenious way of getting through the cattle pincher obstacle, by lifting the litter and victim over their heads.

Rebecca Gourley

King County SAR performed a hoist demonstration during the public portion of the conference on Saturday. The “victim” wore a helmet camera and captured his entire journey from the ground to the helicopter.

At the banquet on Saturday night, several speakers addressed the large audience in the Joan Frey Arena and complimented Klickitat County on the “very successful conference.” Klickitat County SAR Coordinator Jeff King and Sheriff Rick McComas received an award from Search and Rescue Volunteer Advisory Council for their efforts in putting on the conference. King told the audience that it wasn’t just he who made it happen; “It was everyone here,” he said.

“I found it to be incredibly well coordinated, scheduled and orchestrated,” said Blake Miller, one of the instructors for the conference. “It was so well done.”

Other conference organizers were Jane Lee, Eileen Porter, Russ Patton, Al Barrigar, Pat Kaley, Tim Hardin, Zane Kerns, Jeff Dradger, and Jolene Kallio.


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