Mt. Charleston Rescue & Snow in May

Monday, May 24, 2010
Yesterday, the Mountain Rescue Team responded to a report of two stranded hikers located somewhere near the peak of Mt. Charleston, which lies nearly 12,000 ft above sea level. During the Winter months, Mt. Charleston and its surrounding areas experience normal Winter conditions, including plenty of snow. However, most people don't believe that it can snow near Las Vegas in May.

The two hikers who were rescued yesterday began their day with the objective of reaching the Summit. By the end of the day, a storm had come in, ultimately disorienting them. They were able to get cell phone reception and called EMS for help.

Rescuers who responded to the call were prepared to hike in, which would have taken 3-4 hours. However, a break in the weather enabled Air Support to utilize the Huey to conduct the rescue. As a result, the stranded hikers were retrieved from the mountain and horrible weather conditions in under an hour. The hikers were wearing shorts and tennis shoes and hadn't anticipated the Winter-like conditions.

This type of story has been told countless times. Hikers who predict a gorgeous day end up finding themselves in a precarious position. Who would've thought that they'd find themselves in 3 feet of snow in Las Vegas in May?

Before heading out on any type of hike, LVMPDSAR suggests the following:

  • Familiarize yourself with the area that you'll be hiking in by studying and carrying along maps
  • Let others know where you'll be hiking along with estimated departure and arrival times
  • Check the weather forecast before your departure
  • Take along plenty of water and food
  • Carry extra clothes
  • Prepare for the worst
The rescue on Mt. Charleston was featured on Channel 13 News.
Read more »

Beating the Wind

Saturday, May 22, 2010
The wind in Las Vegas has been atrocious the last couple of days. Because of this, the Mountain Rescue Team was bound and determined to start our monthly weekend training early in an effort to beat the high winds that were expected to arrive this afternoon. Although we don't always use our helicopters on training days, we had planned to utilize one for today's session in order to reach a secluded section of Red Rock on a traditionally busy Saturday. With wind speeds reaching 5-10 MPH, we began flying the team into the designated training area around 9:00am. We used the landing zone at the Red Rock Overlook as our staging area:

Here's a picture of where the team was dropped off:

The objective of today's training was to get our systems set up, get rescuers to the victims that had been staged approximately 300 feet below our anchor systems, and extricate both the victims and rescuers in a timely manner. Although the team had incentive to beat the wind today, we treat our training missions just like real rescues, so safety and efficiency are always at the fore front of our minds. The scenario for today's training included two stranded climbers. One had fallen, injuring their arm and leg while we received word of no injuries for the second climber.

After setting up our anchors and systems, we lowered a rescuer with a medical pack and litter down to the victims. Shortly thereafter, we had 3 additional rescuers rappel to the victims in order to help facilitate medical as well as aiding in the exit strategy.

This is a picture of the team as they lowered the initial rescuer to the victims below:

The remaining rescuers rappelled to the victims:

Because the team at the bottom were able to find a landing zone for helicopter pick-up, they packaged the injured patient and helped the uninjured patient to the landing zone where they were extricated via helicopter.

By the end of our training session, winds began to increase to 15MPH with gusts reaching 20MPH. Our highly trained pilots were able to get the entire team off of the mountain before the wind had a chance to increase even more.

Here's a picture of the team gear ready for short haul:

Read more »

Triage Training

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Most of the search or rescue situations that the Mountain Rescue Unit responds to involves one, maybe two injured people at the most. Because of this, it's always good to practice a scenario where a large number of people are injured at one time. In this photo, Rescuers are training for a situation where lightning has struck nearby, ultimately injuring a large number of people. In this situation, it's the responsibility of uninjured rescuers to help those that have been injured.

What would you do as a Rescuer if you experienced something like this?

Read more »