In one month alone, January 2015, The Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team, all-volunteer team, rescued four people. Likely, two people would not have made it through the night if not for the rescue…
It’s easy to lose one’s bearings or go off-trail on any of the ski, hiking, snowboarding or mountain biking paths in the Truckee/Tahoe area. Recently about 30 members of TNSAR were involved in a rescue of a part-time resident that set out for a little run and got lost. The healthy man in his 60’s left his home near Dollar Point in the morning. His family didn’t think anything of his absence as the day progressed, assuming after his run that he went elsewhere for the day. At about 5 p.m., after he’d been out since 10 a.m., his family reporting him missing.
The Deputy Sheriff, on interviewing the family, had the good sense to ask what kind of shoes gentlemen had worn. He took pictures of the tracks in the snow. The pictures were shared with TNSAR, who had quickly mobilized approximately 30 of their members to do the search. At around 9 p.m. members of the team found him leaning up against a rock. He had stamped out a giant ‘X’ in the snow, making it slightly easier to locate him. Chris McConnell, TNSAR President said, “he was about a 1/8th of a mile off trail in the middle of the woods”. The man was in real need of help. Equipped with every conceivable tool and first-aid to help a person in this kind of situation, one of the first requirements was to warm his body. The team quickly took action to begin the process of getting the man warmed up, provided fluids and even got him to take some cake frosting to start the process of re-warming. In about an hour, following various procedures – cutting the man’s clothes away, wrapping him in special charcoal vests, changing out his socks, and so forth – they managed to get him on an ATV, transport him through back country to a waiting ambulance, who transported him to hospital. Within three hours of being hospitalized, everything was almost 100% back to normal. Had the team not arrived when it did the turnout would likely have had a different ending.
The 38-year history of TNSAR is one that has made a difference to hundreds of people rescued, whether they were Nordic skiers, seasoned hikers, or visitors. While their major fundraising event each year has been The Great Ski Race®, held on the first Sunday in March on an amazing 30K route from Tahoe City to Truckee, they are in desperate need of more funding. The money raised through The Great Ski Race® helps fund their expenses each year, but isn’t enough to purchase or upgrade new equipment or vehicles. They’ve helped over 500 people on 300+ separate missions. Most rescue attempts require a full day – or as often is the case, a full night – from volunteers who are ready at a moment’s notice to jump into action. The organization needs your help.
The Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team’s volunteer membership is over 150 strong. “We operate and an A Team and B Team for field searchers” said Chris McConnell, President TNSAR. The members of the A Team are “anywhere, anytime, any conditions” experts. These dedicated people have a diverse set of skills needed for backcountry rescues. TNSAR’s A Team members are well versed in navigation including GPS and map & compass, skiing/snowmobiling/snowcat operations, medical training, first responder skills, avalanche certified, among other skills. Their peers nominate these members. B Team members can be equally strong and qualified, but typically need more rescue time under their belts. TNSAR team members are willing to venture out into the worst possible weather conditions, at any time of the night or day. They risk their lives. They save people’s lives.
The Great Ski Race® is a one of kind event, celebrating its 39th anniversary this year, on Sunday, March 1st. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association (NLTRA), and Granlibakken Tahoe and Lithia Reno Subaru and Hyundai are the major sponsors for the 2015 event. If you’re interested in sponsoring the Race, and the rescue team, please head to http://thegreatskirace.com/2015-sponsors/ or to http://www.tahoenordicsar.com
We’re all part of an amazing, helping, giving community. We’re surrounded by nature’s beauty, but it’s that same rugged beauty that sees people lost, struggling, or in real trouble every year. I would be delighted if you could take time to visit the Race’s or TNSAR website, contribute if you can, and help raise awareness for the team’s extraordinary efforts year in and out.