Rock and Ice Article

Friday, April 30, 2010
On December 1st, 2009, our Unit received word of a fallen climber at Rainbow Wall in Red Rock. At the time, it was reported that the climber had fallen approximately 140ft while conducting a solo climb on the Original Route. Our Air Unit, along with two Officers and two Mountain Rescue volunteers, responded to the call. They provided the necessary medical care and transport to get this climber off of the rock and on their way to the ER.

In the June 2010 issue of Rock and Ice, the story of what actually happened on this day is revealed. Although our rescue efforts are not outlined in the article, it's great to know that Creasser is doing well given the circumstances of his accident.
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Video links have been posted!

Thursday, April 29, 2010
A couple of video links have been posted! Visit the video page from the menu at the top of the page. Enjoy!
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Feature Story and the Arizona Vortex

Sunday, April 25, 2010
If you missed the article in the Las Vegas Review Journal that was written about our Unit as well as our upcoming golf tournament, read it here. A huge thank you to the RJ for writing about our cause! Our 3rd Annual Golf Classic will be held on May 3rd at the Canyon Gate Country Club. Even if you're not a golfer, come out and help support the Unit!

All of us are pretty convinced that the cold weather is now behind us here in the Las Vegas Valley. We are gearing up for the busy season and getting ourselves acclimated to the warmer weather. Today we spent the day training at Red Spring in Calico Basin. It was a gorgeous day, which is always nice to have on training days.

Here's the team, preparing to set up our systems.

And here's a picture of our haul team in action. We spent the day using the Arizona Vortex for raises and lowers, a piece of equipment that we use as often as possible. In this picture, it's the tri-pod that you see in the distance.

If you see us out and about on training days, feel free to stop by and say hi! We hope that you are enjoying this gorgeous weather as much as we are!
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Announcing Friends of Metro 3rd Annual Golf Classic!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The Friends of Metro Annual Golf Classic serves as the primary fundraising event for LVMPDSAR. This year, the tournament will be held on May 3rd at the Canyon Gate Country Club. This event is very special to us, so your participation is greatly appreciated! In addition to golf, there will also be some fun activities as well as a raffle!

If you're interested in participating, your prompt response is appreciated as this Friday, April 19th, is the cut-off day for registration. Drop us an Email at and we'll follow up with details on how to submit payment.

For those that wish to golf:
Foursome(s) @ $1,000
Foursome and Tee Sign @ $1,250
Individual Golfer(s) @ $300/golfer

For those that wish to support with or without golfing:
Presenting Sponsorship(s) @ $10,000
Gold Sponsorship(s) @ $5,000
Silver Sponsorship(s) @ $3,000
Hole Sponsorship(s) @ $600
Green Sponsorship(s) @ $500
Tee Sponsorship(s) @ $250
  • All contributions are tax deductible!
We appreciate all of your support and look forward to seeing everyone at the tournament!
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Survivor 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The University Medical Center of Southern Nevada is utilized by many Las Vegas residents for a variety of medical reasons. In addition to providing patient care, UMC is also home to medical students who participate in the University of Nevada School of Medicine residency programs. In recent years, LVMPDSAR has partnered with UMC to offer medical students who are interested in Wilderness Medicine the opportunity to spend time with some of our Officers and Volunteers to learn basic outdoor rescue and survival techniques.

The course is appropriately named, "Survivor 2010".

On day one, students spent time in the classroom reviewing basic techniques and knots. By lunch-time, these go-getters were already in full swing, rappelling off of our tower - some of them for the first time!

After students were able to practice the basics in a controlled environment, they headed to red rock on day 2 to see what it was like to rappel on real rock.

This group had no problem adapting to the new environment and spent the next two days learning basic lowering and raising systems, litter management, wilderness medicine techniques, practiced their rock climbing skills, and even conducted their own mock rescue!

Here's the group in all of their wilderness glory!

This was the second year that LVMPDSAR participated in this program. We enjoyed our time with the 2010 group and look forward to 2011!
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2010 Mountain Rescue Recruitment is Open!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Mountain Rescue Team is currently seeking new volunteers! If you are an outdoor enthusiast that is interested in doing volunteer work in the Las Vegas community, fill out our interest form and tell us a little about yourself!

Click here for more information on how to qualify and to access our interest form.
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Fire Building

Fire Building

Can you build a blazing fire with damp wood and one match?

The ability to build a fire when lost is extremely helpful for reasons beyond the obvious warmth it provides. The light from the fire helps search teams at night when their task is much more difficult. During the day, a smoky fire will attract searchers as well.

First Things First
The key to fire-building is to assume that no matter how many matches you actually have, you will need some later to start another fire. Always carry wind resistant and waterproof matches. With practice, you can learn the skill of building a roaring fire with ONE match, ONLY one and ALWAYS one. In addition, collect your firewood and start to build your fire BEFORE darkness and BEFORE it gets cold.

Choosing a Site
Choose a site well protected form wind. Clear the ground down to the soil and dig a small pit. This pit helps protect your fire from wind, aids in positioning the twigs and collects red coals as the fire continues. Now gather rocks and surround the pit with them. The rocks offer additional wind protections, but more importantly, they absorb heat from the fire and increase the radiative heat.

Collecting Wood
As you collect wood, keep in mind that no twig is too small when attempting to start a fire. Break the wood down to manageable pieces, some as small as toothpicks. You MUST have very small twigs to start a fire efficiently with only one match. And remember, YOU MUST TRY TO DO THIS WITH ONLY ONE MATCH! If small twigs are unavailable, pieces of torn clothing or lint from pickets may be substituted. Gather enough wood for a long-lasting fire.

If the ground is wet, dried pine needles underneath the top layer of needles might be available. If it is raining, look up for dried firewood. Most trees have dead lower branches that remain dry during the early stages of a rainfall. Never try to start a fire with fresh, green pine needles, however. You will simply waste your matches. And remember, use your matches as if your life depends on them. IT MAY! A candle is extremely useful in starting a fire and conserving matches.

Until you have a large bed of red-hot coals, do not rest secure in the belief that you have built a successful fire. Monitor the fire, blowing on it whenever necessary, adding more twigs and logs and protecting your wood pile from future rain by covering them with branches.

Build a Visible Fire
Since searchers often utilize airplanes and helicopters, you should try to create a visible fire. At night, add as much wood as is reasonably safe to create a big fire. During the day, add items that create smoke. Rubber items work well for this, as do fresh branches of green pine needles. A smoky fire can be visible for many miles.

Practice this skill on your next camping trip, or for that matter in your fireplace at home. This valuable skill may help you avoid a cold, wet evening spent staring at a book of used matches and a lifeless pile of firewood.
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Hug-a-Tree for Safety

If you ever find yourself lost, the most important thing to remember is to hug-a-tree. Children need to know how not to get lost, how to stay comfortable if they get lost, and how to be spotted and found. It is our sincere hope that your children never need this knowledge, but if you discuss the following information with your child, it may help them to remember one or more facts that will make the search short and successful.

Always Carry a Whistle
On picnic, hike, or camping trip, have your children carry a whistle with them at all times. Place a piece of string on the whistle to carry around their neck. The whistle will carry farther than the child's voice and takes less energy to use.

Hug a Tree
Once you know you are lost, one of the greatest fears a person of any age can have is of being alone. Hugging a tree and even talking to it calms the child down and prevents panic. By staying in one place, the child is found far more quickly and can't be injured in a fall.

Your Parents Won't be Angry
Time and again, children have avoided searchers because they were ashamed of getting lost and afraid of punishment. Anyone can get lost, adult or child. If they know a happy reunion filled with love is awaiting, they will be less frightened, less prone to panic, and work hard to be found. Special not to parents: Consider carefully your emotions both during and after a search. Your child wants to be found and anger is not going to help either yourself or the child once found.

Make Yourself Big
From the air, people are hard to see when they are standing in a group of trees or wearing dark and drab clothing, especially children. Find and hug a tree near a small clearing if possible. Wear a bright colored jacket when you go near the woods or desert. Lie down when the helicopter flies over. If it is cool and you are rested, make crosses or "SOS" in broken shrubbery, rocks or by dragging your foot in the dirt.
If you hear a noise at night, yell at it. If it is an animal it will run away. If it is a searcher, you are found. Fears of the dark and of "Lions and Tigers and Bears" are a big factor in panicking children into running. They need strong reassurance to stay put and be safe.

You Have Many Friends Looking For You
We have had children in the area of a search tell us, "My parents would never spend the money to search for me with all these people." Search personnel are professionals and volunteers who charge nothing and do it because they care. Many children who are lost don't realize that if they sit down and stay put, one of a few hundred people will find them. Some are afraid of strangers, or men in uniform, and don't respond to yells, and have actually hidden from searchers they knew were looking for them.

Additional Information
Try to keep from getting lost in the first place. Children are easily distracted off the trail so teach them to stay on the trail. Never let your child walk the trails alone. pick out a high landmark such as a prominent hill, or note the direction of the sun; this prevents disorientation.

Admit it to yourself when you become lost. It can and does happen to anyone, yet is a source of shame when it happens. When you become lost, admit it, accept it, and take actions to be comfortable and in the area when the searchers arrive. Use your head - it's the best survival tool you have.

Call 911 quickly if your child is lost. The search area expands so quickly due to the lost person's possible movements that rapid response is critically important. A call to the police department which is canceled gives the searchers practice and helps keep them alert. A slow response is dangerous, especially if bad weather wipes out the track and exposure is a consideration.

Be available for interviewing. Clues which lead to finding the child in good shape usually come from family and friends who remain on the scene and talk openly and accurately with the search leader or his/her representative. Any personal information will be kept confidential.
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Flash Flood Safety

Flash Flood Safety

A flash flood is the fastest-moving type of flood. It happens when heavy rain collects in a stream, dry wash, or road turning the normally calm area into an instant rushing current.

The quick change from calm to raging river is what catches people off guard, making flash floods very dangerous.

Any flood involves water rising and overflowing its normal path. But a flash flood is a specific type of flood that appears and moves quickly across the land, with little warning that it's coming.

Many things can cause a flash flood. Generally they are the result of heavy rainfall concentrated over one area. Most flash flooding is caused by slow-moving thunderstorms, thunderstorms that repeatedly move over the same area.

Flash floods, moving at incredible speed can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges, and scour out new channels. Walls of water can reach heights of 5 to 10 feet. You won't always have warning that these deadly, sudden floods are coming.

What to do:
  • When a flash flood warning is issued for your area or the moment you first realize that a flash flood is imminent, act quickly to save yourself. You may have only seconds.
  • Go to high ground immediately.
  • Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.
  • Avoid already flooded and high velocity flow areas. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream on foot where water is above your knees.
  • Do not drive through flooded areas. Shallow, swiftly flowing water can wash a car from a roadway. Also, the roadbed may not be intact under the water.
  • If the vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and its occupants and sweep them away.
  • Be especially cautious at night when its harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
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Backcountry Clothing

Since hypothermia is the most common cause of accidental death in the backcountry, proper clothing is essential to every backcountry user from novice to professional. Hypothermia results when the body loses more heat than it can generate. Effective dressing is the simplest way to avoid hypothermia in the diverse weather of the backcountry.

Effective dressing means more than simply owning the most expensive parka and the fanciest rain gear. World class mountaineers have long known the value of specialized techniques in mountaineering dress.

At any time of the year, the most effective way to dress is by "layering". This method has been proven, not only on Mount Everest but in the cold northern regions of Minnesota as well.

Layering simply means wearing one thing layer of clothing over another, over another. Many experienced winter mountaineers do not carry a heavy down parka into the backcountry and for good reason. If they become warm underneath a down parka, removing the parka leaves them extremely exposed. Rather, they will carry numerous lightweight layers.

The advantage of layering is that one can add and remove protection from the elements in small increments, thus balancing heat generation with heat loss. In addition, layering traps dead air for additional weight-free insulation.

Composition of Layers
The body is a source of heat, which you want to retain within your clothing. It is also a source of moisture, in the form of perspiration which, in many situations, must be kept away from the skin due to the cooling effect of evaporation. For this reason, the layers of clothing near your body should be thin and porous to hold in heat and wick away perspiration. Middle layers should be thicker in insulated quality to hold in more heat, yet be able to dissipate the moisture further away from the body. Finally, the outer layers should be thick enough to prevent heat loss and still protect the inner layers from the external elements. The most effective outer layer is completely waterproof, yet allows water vapor (perspiration) to escape. Most conventional rain-gear does not allow water vapor to breathe, thus the body's perspiration is held within the layers of clothing, increasing evaporative heat loss and saturating clothes.

The key to mastering the layering system is to add or remove layers of clothing at just the right times. Remove a layer before you begin sweating, add a layer before you get cold. By doing so, you can balance the amount of your body's heat generation with heat loss. Conserve your sweat, not your water!

Extra Clothing
In discussing the "ten essentials," we have suggested carrying additional clothes. This simple suggestion should not be overlooked, since a warm, balmy morning at the trailhead often ends in a cool, windy chill on the summit.

Five Methods of Heat Loss
Just as the body constantly produces heat, it constantly loses it. There is a simple reason why we wear clothes, besides to preserve our own simple modesty. Since human beings are warm blooded, we must rely on our own bodies for internal heat. Most warm-blooded creatures are protected from the elements by a coat of fur. This fur helps preserve warmth by trapping air providing a layer of insulation. Humans, on the other hand, have no such coat of fur. This means, quite simply, that we must maintain a suitable artificial environment close to our skin that allows for the retention of the body heat that we create internally.

There are five mechanisms through which body heat may be lost: Conduction, convection, evaporation, radiation, and respiration.

Conduction is the transfer of heat through direct contact. If you were to sit on a slab of ice, your body heat would move through your clothes to the ice below. Wet clothing robs your body of heat through conduction as well. In fact, wet clothing will do so 240 times faster than dry clothing. This i why we should remove a layer of clothing before we begin sweating.

Convection is the transfer of heat through the movement of air. The body tries to create its own insulated layer. This means that the body warms the air close to the skin. If this thin layer of warm air were to remain intact, our bodies would maintain their own insulated layer and clothes would be unnecessary. Unfortunately, wind brushes this warm air aside with little effort. The body must then generate another warm layer of air. In even moderate winds, the body doesn't have a chance to keep up with this loss of heat.

Evaporation occurs when we sweat and the tiny droplets of liquid are converted into vapor. This conversion from liquid to vapor results in a net heat loss. That is, the surface on which evaporation occurs will lose heat (which explains why you feel a bit cold when you step our of the shower, before drying off). The body sweats because its internal temperature is too high and it wants to cool down. Sweating will occur even in winter, if the backcountry user does a poor job maintaining ventilation through clothing. When the clothes become wet with sweat, further heat is lost through conduction.

Radiation is the movement of rays of heat from a warm object to a colder one. At temperatures as warm as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, fully one half of the body's heat can be lost by radiation from an uncovered head, since blood vessels in the head lie close to the skin. Hats and balaclavas (face masks) are essential to prevent this loss of body heat.

We lose our body heat naturally, simply through respiration. Furthermore, we may burn over 50% more energy in winter than we would in summer. This is partially explained by the fact that we are breathing extremely cold air, warming it, and saturating it with water vapor. As much as one-third of our body-heat loss can occur through breathing. Breathing through a scarf or balaclava helps by "pre-heating" the inspired air.
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Desert Safety

Desert Safety

Many people each year have mishaps in the desert which could have been avoided or made less serious with some pre-planning. Extreme conditions are found in the desert from the valley floor to the high mountains. Following is a list of preparations to be made before your hike or trip to the desert, a basic list of supplies, and suggestions for what to do if you become lost or stranded.

Before your trip
Let someone at home know your travel or hiking plans and a time you will return! If you do get lost or break down, the people at home will know where to start looking. Also, let these people know if your plans change.

Learn about the area, get accurate maps and weather conditions, and plan your agenda conservatively if you are traveling or hiking in an unfamiliar area.

Bring gear appropriate for your activity, the expected range of conditions and the planned length of your stay. Many people have been fooled by changing conditions. We often hear statements like, "...we did not expect thunder storms in the desert", or "...we didn't expect it to get so cold at night, " or "we didn't know it was so far between here to there..."

Survival Tools
  • Proper clothing for your activity (sun glasses, hat, sunscreen, wind breaker, long sleeved shirt for change in weather)
  • Good walking shoes, boots, or well-fitting riding boots
  • Food (lunch or non-melting snacks)
  • Water - at least one gallon per person per day
  • Maps, compass, knowledge of the area prior to trip (note land marks as you travel)
  • Small First aid kit
  • Waterproof matches (in a case or film canister)
  • Camping and emergency tools (depending on the transportation)
  • Knife
  • Flash light
  • Signaling device (mirror, aerial or road flares)
  • Rope or cord
  • Duct or electrician's tape
  • Small bright colored tarp or ground cover
  • Day pack, cargo carrier or saddle bag to carry the preceding gear
  • Vehicle tools, high-lift jack, extra fuel, and spare parts (like spark plugs, fan belts, hose clamps), depending on your vehicle.
If lost alone in the desert
  • STOP, look around for other people.
  • Shout and listen for a response.
  • Remain calm and use reason.
  • Find an open area.
  • Mark your present position and scout around. Always return to your marked position.
  • Before dark, prepare for thenight by finding water, firewood, and shelter.
  • Keep a fire burning for rescuers to see your location.
  • Stay in one spot, it is easier for rescuers to find you.
If Stranded or Broken Down Vehicle
  • Stay with your vehicle or otherwise make yourself visible.
  • Stay put, unless you have a clear and specific destination.
  • Avoid walking during the heat of the day. Morning and evening walking is better for conserving your body's moisture.
  • Seek shelter from the elements, but try to make yourself visible (like smoke from a signal fire, or bright colored tarp).
Cell Phones and Common Sense
Cell phones have become a convenient way to call for help in just about every situation these days. However, caution must be taken to think that they will be reliable or expect to work at all times. Most areas in Clark County, except for urban areas, are not covered. Rugged terrain, atmospheric conditions, or low battery power can disrupt reception.

Cell phones should not be used as a replacement for good common sense. When venturing into the outdoors, be prepared by following the steps above. Remember, just because you are carrying a cell phone does not ensure a means of rescue.
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