Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Call for Speakers
National Search and Rescue Conference
Presented by the MRA and NASAR and CSRB
Hosted by Larimer County Search and Rescue
June 4-7, 2015
YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, CO

SARCON2015 is a multifaceted exposition featuring instructional tracks and trade-show that caters exclusively to decision-makers and SAR professionals involved in all aspects of search and rescue. Subject matter includes mountain rescue techniques and skills, search skills and management, use of canines, and other pertinent information. Session attendees will seek positive, practical input for a proactive approach to search and rescue. Attendees will include professionals, both paid and non-paid, in all aspects of search and rescue from throughout the United States and abroad. Attendees will represent many job functions, but will all share a similar concern: search and rescue.

Speaker Responsibilities
In an effort to keep the costs of SARCON2015 as low as possible, speakers are asked to attend the conference as regular attendees, and we will waive ¼ of the registration and lodging/meal package (ie: if the Conference costs $500 we’ll waive $125 in consideration).  Because the conference program is intended to provide formal instruction in a non-commercial setting, the distribution and presentation of commercial messages for business solicitation purposes are strictly prohibited in the classroom.

The deadline for submission is March 28, 2015. Please provide the following information for program consideration to the track coordinator: Tom Wood

•           Presentation title.
•           Presentation length (60, 90 or 120 minute time slots are available) – workshops will be scheduled all day Friday and Saturday, June 5-6, with overflow slots possibly available Sunday morning June 7.
•           A maximum 200-word synopsis of the presentation you would like to have considered.  Please keep in mind this will serve as the basis for the abstract printed for publication in the registration brochure and conference program.
•           Indicate the type of visual aids you will use in this presentation.
•           Has this presentation been given before? If so, when and where?
•           Your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address.

•           Bio – not more than 200 words, paragraph form only (NOT RESUME FORMAT).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Body of ICAR

Guest Blogger J. Marc Beverly
MRA Avalanche Alternate Delegate for ICAR
Albuquerque Mountain Rescue
The Human body and the Search and Rescue world have many similarities. As an infant, we are naive about the fact that the human body has many organs and a network of nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and bones that are the large functional groups to make the system work. Likewise, the rescue community is also composed of many entities, each with specific skills, functions, and responsibilities.

This was the first year ever (in a 66-year history) that the International Commission of Alpine Rescue (ICAR) met in the United States. Four days of trainings and meetings were dedicated to continue to build a neural connection among rescue members from around the world. All in attendance, more than three hundred from over 29 countries are on the path to the same end, to become better rescuers by sharing and gaining knowledge.

Sometimes, MRA teams in the USA do not realize how much of a role they play in the greater scheme of things until you go to an event like the ICAR. We sometimes get caught up in traditions of doing things a certain way, and sometimes consistency is good. However, every now and then we should reconsider what we are doing in our rescue regimes, to knock the proverbial “straw man” down and prove ourselves right, or consider another alternative. Cross-pollination helps with evolution and thwarts stagnation.

The high level of professionalism and commitment is evident at ICAR. Certainly, the organization did not start this way, but it is achieving what was sought, and the mission of ICAR to spread education appears to be in full swing.

This was my first time attending ICAR and I personally enjoyed to be able to spend time contemplating difficult questions with those who write our action plans for organized alpine rescue. Certainly, I have done the same within the guiding community, but many international guides from other countries are at ICAR for the same purpose as I, to learn and contribute something to the ongoing metabolism of alpine rescue.

For me, I have gained answers to some of my questions, but ICAR has left me with more focused questions for which I hope to find answers to in the future. I gained insight from every meeting and training. I learned of new probing techniques, gained insight on medical triage for avalanche victims, and learned of new ways of handling high-risk avalanche rescue with helicopter operations. New products from manufacturers were on hand specifically for rescue (that I don’t see at the Outdoor Retailer’s Show), while input was freely given by the end-users on how to improve upon what is currently available.


     Courage - Commitment - Compassion


Friday, April 11, 2014

For the 2nd time the MRA and NASAR 
will come together to present the
2014 National Search & Rescue Conference
June 5-7 ~ Woodcliff Lake, NJ

Pre-Conference Workshops - Monday-Wednesday, June 2-4
Federal & State SAR Coordinator's Meeting (Invitation Only) - Tuesday & Wednesday, June 3-4
Exhibit Hall Open - Wednesday-Friday, June 4-6
Conference Dates - Thursday-Saturday, June 5-7
MRA Business Meeting - Sunday, June 8

Registration includes attendence for the conference / exhibition space and 1 Banquet ticket
Click here for the paper registration form for paying by check or purchase order
Click here for hotel information (Woodcliff Lake Hilton - $102/Night conference rate use code "ANS" when you call)

Preconference courses this year include:
Cave Rescue Operations (in a real cave, no simulations, only the real thing for this conference)
NASAR SAR Fundamentals of Tracking (Learn from the best, Del is back this year)
NASAR Tracking Certification Exam (get that certificate for the next big search)
Endangered & Vulnerable Children and Adults (special skills for special SAR missions)
Urban Search Management (the urban "wilderness" SAR mission with Chris Young)
Motivating Your Working Dog with Michael Ellis (both particpants and observers are welcome)
Twin Tensioned Line Systems (feeling stress, a little tension - double it up with twin tensioning)
AWR-160 Weapons of Mass Destruction Awareness (Homeland Security Ceritifcate Provided) - you must bring a copy of your ICS 100.a certificate and your ICS-700.a certificate. 

We are using EventMobi again this year as the conference management application.  It will be updated regularly, and is already online with some information loaded up.  

Check it out at:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Once again the Mountain Rescue Association and the National Association for Search and Rescue are teaming up for the National Search and Rescue Conference! 

Registration is OPEN and can be found here 

The event will be held at the Woodcliff Lake Hilton  
$102/Night conference rate use code "ANS" when you call

2014 National Search and Rescue Conference
Tentative Schedule of Events

Tuesday / Wednesday
June 3-4 Pre-Conference Workshops (pre-registration required)
June 3-4 0800 to 1700 State SAR Coordinators Workshop
June 4 1500 Opening of Exhibit Hall
June 4 1800 NASAR Board of Directors Meeting
June 4 0900 to 1700 Syrotuck Symposium

June 5 0900–0930 Opening Session
June 5 0930–1200 Workshops
June 5 1130-1300 & 1630-1900 Exhibit Hall Open
June 5 1330–1700 Workshops
June 5 1900-2030 NASAR General Meeting
June 5 2030–2200 Meet the Candidates for NASAR Board of Directors
June 5 1900-2030 MRA Safety Committee Near Miss Case Studies

June 6 0830-1500 Workshops
June 6 1000-1330 Exhibit Hall Open
June 6 1530-1700 Community Meetings (K9, Ground SAR, Water, Tracking, MRA)

June 6 1830-2230 Higgins & Langley Awards Ceremony

June 7 0830-1730 Workshops
June 7 – SAR GAMES
June 7 1630-2230 Awards Banquet & Silent Auction

June 8 National Search and Rescue Memorial Service
June 8 MRA Business Meeting

GEOCACHE – This year we have hidden many geocaches on site. Win prizes, impress your
friends with your GPS skills, let your inner geek go wild… go find’em!
Workshop Descriptions with speaker profiles will be posted on the EventMobi
application site. Go to to get the application and
event details, including directions, hotel, etc.

Preconference June 3-4
• NASAR Tracking Certification Examination (beta)
• NASAR SAR Fundamentals Tracking Course
• Cave Rescue Operations
• Endangered & Vulnerable Children & Adults
• Motivating Your Working Dog (observers welcome but must register)
• Urban Search Management
• Twin Tensioned Line Systems

Mountain Rescue Track
• Developing an Intuitive Understanding of Force Vectors in Rope Systems For Technical
• Snow Anchors
• Ice Anchors
• Proceedings of the 2013 International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR) Congress,
Terrestrial Rescue Commission
• Moving a Litter Through Class 3 Terrain
• Fact or Fiction- Common Rigging Myths
• Pre-Tensioning the Belay Line
• Edge Management and Rappell Backup for Rescue Personnel
• Solo Rope Rescue – Lowering Method
• Use of Skinny Ropes in Rescue
• Pike and Pivot – Jersey Bridle

General Track
• Train as You Fight…
• Increasing Professionalism of Volunteer Programs
• Social Media for Search And Rescue
• Search And Rescue Interface for Ski Patrols
• Survival Basics for the SAR Responder
• Visual Search, Target Orientation, and Probability of Detection
• The Effective Use of Volunteer SAR Personnel in Police Investigations and Civil
• Clue Awareness for Search Teams (CAST) – Train the Trainer
• Best Practices for Funding SAR Operations

Medical Track
• Moulage – Enhancing Realism in Training Exercises
• Wound Care
• What is Autism?
• Walk the Talk: Selective C-Spine Immobilization
• Missing at Risk: Understanding and Managing the Search for the Missing At Risk
Alzheimers and Dementia Search
• Exercise Programming for Mountain Rescue Personnel
• Understanding Missing Persons with Autism
• Practical Drowning Resuscitation

Government, HLS, US&R, and Technology Track
• Debunking SAR Myth vs Reality and Why Now is the Time to Get Prepared
• Back to the Future: Second Generation Distress Beacons
• Updated Tactics for Locating Distress Beacons
• Callout Systems on the Cheap
• ESRI Mapping Update
• Communicate Critical GPS and Digital Mapping SAR Information Wirelessly
• SAR Mission Optimization Using Common Operating Picture Technology
• Response to Chemical Suicide Incidents

Management Track
• Understanding the Human Terrain Search And Rescue Operations
• Interview and Investigation – Techniques for Search And Rescue Responders
• Investigative Strategies During a Missing Person Search
• Family Interactions with Search Authorities During SAR Incidents
• Standard Operating Procedures, Why Do You Need Them? What Do You Have to Have?
• Application of Structured Geospatial Analytical Methods to Wilderness SAR
• SAR Related Line of Duty Deaths in the Known History of the U.S. and Canada
• Advances in SAR / ISRID Grows
• Time Sensitive Mission Planning

Canine Track
Water Track (Swiftwater and Public Safety Diver)
NASAR Education Track

Courage - Commitment - Compassion

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What is the Mountain Rescue Association? 

The Mountain Rescue Association is an organization of teams dedicated to saving lives through rescue and mountain safety education.  We do so by improving the quality, availability, and safety of mountain search and rescue through; 
- Creating a framework for and accrediting member teams 
- Promoting mountain safety education
- Providing a forum for development and exchange of information on mountain search and rescue techniques,  equipment, and safety
- Representing member teams providing mountain search and rescue services to requesting governmental agencies 

The Mountain Rescue Association creates excellence through:

Courage - Commitment - Compassion

     Mountain Rescue Association 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kudos to the “First” First Responders

Every time I read a news report about someone being rescued, or protected from harm, it is usually the official emergency responders that get the acknowledgment.

The Rocky Mountain Rescue Group (of which I am a member) gets a mention each time we head out to help someone in the mountains, which is nice, but certainly not essential for me or any of my teammates to make our contribution to the team, and the patient.

What rarely gets reported, in my experience with mountain rescue at least, is what happens in between the start of someone’s bad day and when emergency responders arrive. Someone had to find the person sick, injured or dying, and then report it to the authorities. Mostly, this involves a cell phone call to 911, but it could be a 4 mile run down a trail. For most of us it is human nature to want to avoid such traumatic events. Some do that by turning away, and some do it by trying to help. These are the ways in which we deal with second hand trauma, and in the end it is about minimizing how long such a situation exist, either in our minds, or in reality. Neither is right or wrong.

During the summer of 2012, a young man was found with serious injuries after a fall down a steep rocky gully in four-mile canyon, west of Boulder, CO. Some people hiking in the area heard some unexpected sounds and went to investigate, finding a scene that none of us deserve to see. They did what they could for the young man, calling for help, describing the location and the scene to the 911 dispatchers, guiding rescuers in and performing the basic first aid they could. They helped in a horrific situation, and were part of the emergency response for this mans life, which was sadly lost.

 In 2008, RMR was called to rescue a climber in Eldorado Canyon who had been hit by a falling dinner table-sized rock. Most of the big bones in the legs of this climber were broken. He was still on a ledge 200 feet off the ground. When rescuers arrived there were at least 4 other climbers at his location. One of them had checked that the climbers rope was safe for rescuers to ascend, another did as much first aid as possible, then when rescuers arrived another used his world class climbing skills to set a anchor for the rescue, saving a significant amount of evacuation time. These climbers were the first 30 minutes of emergency response in this injured climbers life and death situation.

In 2011, a woman slid down a snowfield during a summer hike in the Indian Peaks wilderness, arriving at the rock field at the bottom at a speed that did enough damage to require a rescue. For two hours a physician’s assistant, who happened to be hiking nearby, stabilized the woman medically, and comforted her as rescuers approached from one direction and lightening approached from another. The victim was as comfortable as she could have been thanks to the ‘pre-rescuer care’ she received.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned performing mountain rescue, is that the smallest things can count towards saving a life, or at the very least can change the situation so the injured or sick can get to a place of comfort (physical or mental) much quicker. This lesson was cemented through a surprising and very personal event. During a rescue in the Flatirons a few years ago, my entire contribution to the two-hour evacuation was simply talking to someone with a severely broken and deformed ankle. The distress of a middle aged women evaporated as soon as she heard my Australian accent. Now I understand for some, that this accent is not exactly ‘music to the ears’, but it took her back 20 years to another life when she lived in South Eastern Australia. When I would talk she was back walking along a beach, or watching a kangaroo jump through the fields, and with no pain or embarrassment. When I stopped talking, she would feel the pain in her ankle, tear up and apologize for requiring 20 people to carry her off the mountain. Words were enough.

As rescuers we are kept busy with scene, teammate and bystander safety, rigging evacuation systems, and making decisions in stressful environments. In the end we get internal or external recognition of our efforts. We get to debrief rescues within the team, and that camaraderie provides the recognition and motivation we need. It seems essential that we also find a way to recognize those people who form the bridge between the start of a really crappy day for someone, and when emergency responders arrive. On mountain rescue calls, that time difference can be many hours, and without any dramatization, the contribution of those people can be critical.

We should all hope that we don’t have to be the one to hold a persons hand while they wait to be extracted from a crumpled car, and we should hope that we will ever need to hold a persons head still after a fall down a mountain, but please share the word…… if you do end up there, it can literally make the difference. It may be the difference for the immediate well-being of the patient, or it may be the difference for the haste of the subsequent rescue, but in the end it is of immense value, that in my experience doesn't get enough credit. Thanks to all of those people who have formed that bridge between an accident and emergency responders.

Guest Blogger Dan Lack is a Mission Leader and Training Director for Rocky Mountain Rescue and Region Chair for the Rocky Mountain Region. 

  Courage - Commitment - Compassion

     Mountain Rescue Association 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A culture of reporting, and a culture of safety
Guest Blog by the Alpine Near Miss Survey's Cory Jackson 

The Alpine Near-Miss Survey “First 100 Reports” project is underway. We are collecting near-miss reports to support a presentation at ITRS in November, and have been excited about the results so far. But the more reports we receive the better! We are hoping to encourage as many mountain rescue near-miss reports as possible over the next couple of weeks. Read on, and hopefully you’ll find an incentive to do so.

The goal of near-miss research is simply to prevent accidents and injuries. The phrase “near-miss” typically refers to an unintended, unsafe situation that could have resulted in injury but for a fortuitous intervention. Near-miss reporting systems are common safety tools used in high-risk, high-consequence industries such as commercial aviation, nuclear power generation and chemical production. These industries study near-misses because they can outnumber reported accidents at least ten-to-one. Near-misses also share many of the same root causes as reported accidents. Further, near-miss data is useful information that would not be reported but for a specialized reporting system. Finally, analyzing near-misses is proactive rather than reactive: we can identify unsafe trends before they result in injury.

More importantly, positive reporting cultures – those organizational cultures that adopt reporting systems and embrace the value of sharing near-miss reports – are indicative of cultures of safety. Organizational cultures are heavily studied by academics and management consultants, but for our purposes, culture is important simply because is pervades an organization. And because safety cultures are pervasive, they are particularly effective at preventing accidents. Near-miss reporting can facilitate and encourage cultures of safety.

Successful voluntary near-miss reporting systems typically employ platforms that share four attributes.

1. Reporting is anonymous or confidential or both
2. Incidents are reported to an agency that is wholly separate and distinct    from any agency that may govern or regulate the workplace or activity
3. Reports are rapidly published giving timely feedback to reporters
4. Reporting is easy and quick

For these reasons, we designed the Alpine Near-Miss Survey to be a nonprofit, independent entity that is not owned or controlled by an agency that regulates mountain rescuers, mountain guides, or recreational climbers. Second, the online platform and mobile reporting app make reporting simple and fast. And reporters can read their report on the website and see it shared with others within a few days of reporting their incident. We hope that these attributes will make the platform successful, and that it contributes to a culture of safety for those who work and play in the alpine environment.

Sample report from the Survey

While studying near-misses and accidents is serious business, there’s no reason why we can’t have a little fun while we’re getting the system up and running. The Alpine Near-Miss Survey is generously supported by the Petzl Foundation, and the Foundation has agreed to help us give away $1,000.00 in Petzl gear to one reporter that submits a near-miss before October 31. We hope to see that report soon! 

 Guest Bloger Cory Jackson directs and manages the Alpine Near-Miss Survey. He is one of the project’s co-founders, and is involved in all aspects of its development including report review, website and app programming and project fundraising. Cory is also a Member of the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team in Ouray, Colorado. He has worked part-time as a commercial climbing guide and instructor, and has assisted winter and summer Rigging for Rescue seminars. Finally, Cory is an attorney and has a private practice specializing in corporate, nonprofit, and commercial, and trust and estate law in Ouray, Colorado.

        Courage - Commitment - Compassion

     Mountain Rescue Association