June 12, 2011

FSAR at Baxter State Park by Jim Logan

Pat, Steve M., Devin, and Jim represented FSAR at Baxter State Park over the Memorial Day weekend as on-duty volunteers to assist in any search or rescue actions that required extra manpower.

Although the crew was not called into action, we all gained significant information and experience. Steve and Devin had never been to the Park before and Jim had never worked in the Park; it was Pat’s first role in the summer season. We were received by Jean Hoekwater, Park Naturalist, and Dave Stewart, Deputy Chief Ranger. We proceeded to the Visitor’s Center just before the main gate where we camped. The adjacent bunkhouse was occupied by personnel from Mahoosic Mountain Rescue Team (MMRT), an experienced team who shared many useful insights with us as to expectations and procedures.

Upon entering the park we were issued special placards for vehicle dashboards advising people that we were serving in the park in a search-and-rescue capacity and these allowed us parking and access where needed.  We visited key campgrounds, meeting rangers and learning what SAR-related equipment they had and where it was stored. They seemed very happy to meet us and appreciated our willingness to be ready to assist.

We were on call from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm while we were there but we were encouraged to see the park to develop familiarity, with the expectation at least two of us would be available from 2:00 on. We did a group hike along the Nesowadnehunk near Daicey Pond, and enjoyed Big and Little Niagara as well as other features of the stream.

In camp we discussed rope and belaying procedures, especially benefitting from Steve’s recent class at MDI and Devin’s classes at college. It was a useful way to occupy on-call time. 

Sunday morning we broke camp, but the weather finally broke, too, and gave Steve and Devin their first views of Mount Katahdin, complete with snow in many areas. Among other things, we learned how to pack better for Baxter, how better to be ready for a late call-out on the mountain, park methods of operation and personnel we could expect to work for and with, and important aspects of Park layout. We all agreed it was a very useful time and we know it will enhance any emergency trip to Baxter as well as FSAR ventures closer to home.

  -Jim Logan

Note: As the mountain was completely socked-in for most of the weekend, we spent time exploring areas both inside and outside the park. The rafting images were taken at the ‘Cribworks’ rapids on the west branch of the Penobscot River. Pat has extensive whitewater guiding experience on the Penobscot and was a wonderful guide with many stories about this section of the river.   –Mit

All photos are by Devin

Big Niagara on the Nesowadnehunk Stream.
The day we headed home, the weather broke. This is the view from our campsite!

June 8, 2011

Smalls Falls Training 6-5-2011

DK and Al put on a great high angle rope rescue training at Smalls Falls this past weekend. About 15 members from Northstar, FSAR and RFD participated in the event. Rigging and lowering & raising evolutions were executed in 2 different locations at the Poplar Waterfall site. A 3:1 lower and raise system was used for BOTH the lower and the raise! This system is perfect for high angle calls in our region, because the overall working heights of the cliffs are rarely over 25 feet. By using a 3:1 for the lower (and not a break rack), you eliminate the need for: break rack, load releasing hitch, and a changeover to the haul system once the litter and attendant have reached the patient. The tandem prusik belay system remains the same. A high-directional to a tree as well as a human-vectored high directional was demonstrated to assist the litter over the edge for the lower and raise. Participants of all experience levels participated in the event. DK pointed out that the half-life of rope rescue training is about 6 months. The key to being successful at a real high angle rescue is frequent trainings with members of EMS, SAR and local fire departments cross-training together. Thanks to Al for organizing the event and co-teaching with DK.



June 6, 2011

Monthly Meeting June 6, 2011

Franklin Search & Rescue

Monthly Meeting and Training
Wednesday June 8, 2011
Kingfield Fire Station

Monthly gear share: overnight sleeping shelter. Your ready-pack is designed to include all the gear you would need to be self sufficient for 24 hours in the backcountry. Weather you use a bivy bag, tarp, ultra light tent or garbage bag, please come prepared to share your sleeping system.