The Fresno County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue team is responsible for searching, rescuing or recovering people lost, injured or killed while outdoors in Fresno County. Approximately 2,000 square miles of Fresno County is home to the High Sierras, and every year this unit conducts dozens of Search and Rescue missions in that area. Unit members are deployed on missions 24 hours a day in all kinds of adverse conditions and weather. Unit members are highly trained and are expected to be self-sufficient for multiple days at a time. These members are trained in wilderness first aid, land navigation, swiftwater rescue, mantracking and technical rope rescue. Other training specific to the alpine winter environment consists of snow shelter building, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobile operation and snowcat operation.
The Fresno County Sheriff's Office has a proud history of Search and Rescue service within Fresno County. Our program is staffed by both Sheriff's deputies and community volunteers. Four different volunteer teams work within Search and Rescue:
SAR unit whose interest and expertise are steep angle and alpine activities. This team also participates also includes winter and summer ground searches as well as white water rescue. Open to persons 18 years and older.
Equestrian unit open to all persons 18 years or older. Volunteers must provide their own equine and transportation.
Jeep Rescue Unit
The Jeep Squadron is open to all persons 18 years or older. Volunteers must provide their own 4x4 vehicle.
The Air Squadron is open to all persons 21 years or older. Volunteers must provide their own airplane and pilot licensing.
Things to consider when recreating in the mountains:
Being near any body of water can be fun, but it does come with certain responsibilities, safety being the first and primary one. Read these tips to stay safe on your next outing.
Common errors which lead to serious consequences
(based on actual rescue missions)
Layer Your Clothing.
Layers are far more versatile than one heavy coat. They allow you to add or subtract insulation depending on activity level and weather conditions.
Keep Clothing Dry.
Make every effort to keep your clothing dry! Remember, clothing can get just as wet from perspiration as it can from the elements.
Never use cotton as any essential part of your clothing. It retains little or no warmth when wet.
First layer that does not absorb much water, but instead wicks it away from the body. Similar to traditional "long johns" but made from synthetic materials. Second layer for insulation, preferably one that is warm even if wet, i.e.; wool, polyester, nylon pile, etc. Third layer of insulation, similar to second layer, if needed. Forth layer should be wind and rain protection for both the upper and lower body. It should be large enough to fit over insulation and still allow freedom of movement.
Tell Someone Where You Are Going. A timetable, itinerary, vehicle description, a list of outer clothing and tent colors, and a copy of a map of where you are going should be left with family friends, etc.
Party Size. A party of four is ideal. A party of two should be considered the minimum. Soloists must understand the risks of "going it alone." Make sure you have enough experienced people along to manage a group of novices.
Companions. Choose them carefully. Consider experience, judgment, and physical condition. Parties with members of similar abilities usually perform best together. The slowest person should set the pace for the group.
Planning. A must. Current information from maps, guidebooks, park and forest service personnel and those who have been there before can be helpful in trip planning.
If you become lost. Stop and think! Backtrack if possible, trust your compass. Don't travel more than a short distance unless you know where you are going. If a search is initiated for you it will start at the point you were last seen. If conditions make travel impractical, seek shelter. Make your location visible with brightly colored items, fire, smoke, stamping words out in the snow, etc. Make noise. Use a whistle, firearm, shouts, etc. Three sounds in a row (whistle blasts, gunshots, etc.) is recognized distress signal. Shelter, warmth, and water are more important than food.
Lieutenant Kathy Curtice
2200 Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93721