Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue Review
updated: Jan 08, 2013, 10:21 AM
Source: Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY SEARCH AND RESCUE
RELEASES 2012 YEAR-IN-REVIEW
All-volunteer unit of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office was paged out to 138
callouts, attended 24 trainings, and celebrated its 50 th anniversary of saving lives in
the County of Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara County Search And Rescue (SBCSAR) announced
that its 38 Team members responded to a total of 138 callouts in 2012. By comparison, the
Team, on call 24/7, 365 days per year, typically responds to an average of 120-140 callouts
Callouts include searches, rescues, and Sheriff's Office assistance such as evidence searches
and medical support at Halloween.
This year's callouts included:
• Lookout Fire Evacuation and Firefighter Rescue: Immediately following their evacuation of Painted
Cave's 100 homes during the Lookout Fire, the Team responded to an injured CalFire firefighter within
feet of the fire perimeter. Team members secured him into a stretcher and belayed him over seven
steep waterfalls through the fire-threatened canyon back to the staging area at Highway 154 where he
was then transferred to Cottage Hospital. During their descent, Team members also
provided medical care to a County Fire Captain who was showing signs of hyponatremia.
• Stranded Mother-and-Daughter at Painted Cave:
A mother and daughter became stranded on a cliff approximately 40 feet up from the
historic Painted Cave Monument. SBCSAR team members climbed to the top, rappelled
to their location, and performed "pick-off rescues" to lower the pair, one at a time, safely
to the ground. Team Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) determined that there were
no injuries, and the mother and daughter were released.
• Rescue of 9-Year-Old Girl at Tangerine Falls:
At the popular Tangerine Falls, a mother called 911 when her 9-year-old daughter fell
and broke her upper arm. SBCSAR and Montecito County Fire hiked to their location and
assisted County Air Support Unit 309 in safely hoisting the severely injured girl into the
helicopter. She was then transported and admitted to Cottage Hospital.
• Dog Rescue at Gaviota Peak:
Wrigley, a black Labrador, showed signs of heat distress on a hike up to Gaviota Peak.
Team members arrived to their location just below the Peak, and SBCSAR K9 handler
Juanita Smith tended to Wrigley's emergency. SBCSAR returned the dog and owners to
their car at the trailhead. Wrigley made a full recovery.
• Search for Missing Avid Outdoorsman at Santa Cruz Trail:
While SBCSAR reminds hikers and backpackers to prepare with adequate food, water,
and supplies, even the most experienced outdoorsmen may meet with misfortune
on their adventures. A local backpacking columnist with 30 years of backcountry
experience became lost when returning to Upper Oso Campground from a multi-day trip.
SBCSAR team members searched the area and located the missing man. Team EMTs
cleared him, and he was released (and subsequently wrote about his adventure in The
• Copter 3's First Rescue:
County Air Support Unit Copter 3 recently made its first search and rescue mission in
searching for two hikers in distress near Dutch Oven Campground in the Los Padres
National Forest. Team members were flown to the hikers' area near Big Pine Mountain,
and SBCSAR EMTs evaluated their condition, determining that one hiker had suffered
a sprained ankle. Copter 3 flew the hikers back to Santa Ynez Airport where they were
released after Team EMTs found no additional injuries or medical emergencies.
In addition to the 138 callouts in 2012, Team members attended 24 trainings including rope
rescue, swiftwater rescue, helicopter operations, tracking, urban search and rescue, Emergency
Vehicle Operations Course, Project Lifesaver, and Emergency Locator Transmitter Search.
Other 2012 SBCSAR Team highlights include:
Commissioning of Copter 3: After years of planning, the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit
welcomed the "Queen" of its six-helicopter fleet, Copter 3. This 1960's Vietnam-era Huey has been
completely refurbished and equipped to be a fully functional search and rescue helicopter.
Annual Training of Machu Picchu Search And Rescue:
Each Winter, SBCSAR Members pay their own way to the sacred city of Machu Picchu,
Peru, where they train local rescuers. This year, SBCSAR taught 37 individuals in
swiftwater and rope rescue techniques, leaving behind rescue gear
generously donated by CMC Rescue, Inc., and REI of Santa Barbara.
• Celebration of the SBCSAR 50th Anniversary: SBCSAR marked its 50 years of saving lives with a two-
day celebration of open houses and a red carpet raffle party. The public met the Team and search dogs,
got up-close with rescue vehicles and a helicopter, learned to ascend ropes, were trained on hands-
only CPR from the American Heart Association, and met animals rescued by the Animal Rescue Team.
• Graduation of Two New Academies
Following months of intensive training, SBCSAR welcomed 10 new responding members.
• Finally, the Team laid to rest one of its dearest members. Kody, the Australian Shepherd search
dog, participated in well over 100 searches throughout California in his 10 years of active
service. Current SBCSAR search dog Blaze will continue on his hard work in 2013.
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