SCCSSAR meets on two evenings and one weekend day per month for training and general business meetings. The evening meetings are typically held at the Sheriff's Office Headquarters in San Jose and may take the form of classroom style lessons, formalized operations debriefings and equipment familiarization activities. During the summer months, evening meetings are often held at a local county park, where exercises are run to maintain members' SAR skills. Once per month the team meets in the field for an all-day activity. These drills range from comprehensive mock searches which exercise all elements of our SAR response capabilities, to rope systems practice, wildland medical response trials, tracking and navigation exercises. Frequently, these training sessions span both daylight and nighttime hours to better prepare our members for all response conditions.
Participation in training activities is crucial for all team members. An 50% attendance record is required for members to maintain an active status with the team. Not only do these sessions help develop and maintain the necessary SAR skills, but they also provide a forum for members to work closely together and build the teamwork and mutual trust that is vital to effect a successful SAR incident response.
MAR 23, 2019 | Man Tracking
This weekend our team members practiced their tracking skills over various types of terrain. Subject tracking is a valuable tool for our team members during missing persons searches. Establishing a good set of tracks helps identify a potential search area or direction of travel.
FEB 23, 2019 | Grid Search Exercise
Sometimes our team is called to search an area of many square miles, and other times we’re called to search an area of only a few hundred square feet. This latter type of search, known as a grid search, is most often done to look for evidence. That evidence is often small - in the real world, as small as a single hair, or in the case of our training, as small as a snap pea. Small evidence requires trained eyes to find. At our last monthly training, our team members practiced the management, collaboration, and focus that is involved in a grid search.
FEB 23, 2019 | Canine Mock Search
Our four-legged team members stole the show this weekend at our "Canine Mock Search", which focused on executing effective area searches with our K9s and their handlers. Our K9 searchers primarily use their sense of smell to search, which is a perfect complement to our human searchers' eyes and ears during an area search. The "evidence" that our K9s and their handlers found throughout the mock search area eventually led to a low-angle recovery scenario that put our human members to work on their rigging and transport skills.
FEB 20, 2019 | Night Navigation exercise
“Everything Looks Different at Night”
This past week, our team members honed their night navigation skills during a field training exercise. It’s easy to find your way around the wilderness with a GPS unit, but what happens when it’s not working? With only a compass, a few bearings and a distance to go off of, our team members practiced finding their way around in the dark.
JAN 19, 2019 | Low Angle Rigging Rescue
Our team keeps its rope rescue skills sharp by conducting regular field exercises. Last Saturday morning, the team practiced “low angle rescue” (operations on slopes up to about 35 degrees) in Santa Teresa County Park. The scenarios included single and multiple injured subjects and required building anchors and pully systems, “packaging” and extracting subjects. We try to make it as realistic as possible: one of the subjects was made up to have it look like his head was impaled on a stick. Our Technical Rescue Team (“high angle” and mountain rescue) will be in the Sierra next weekend training on snow anchors/rigging and avalanche searching. Hopefully the skiers on the team will resolve their “alpine touring” vs. telemark debate peacefully on the slopes.