2011 Year in Pictures

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ice climbing and winter training in Ouray, Colorado:

Mission prep at Red Rock:

Arizona Vortex in action at Red Rock:

2011 Mountain Rescue Basic's Class:

Stranded Hiker Rescue at Mt. Charleston:

Technical Operations at Red Rock:

Avalanche training Mt. Charleston:

Team extraction at Red Rock:

Red Rock Mission:

Short Haul Training:

Fastrope Training:

Dive team at Lake Mead:

Black Velvet Rescue:

Air Support and Mountain Rescue featured in the Las Vegas Weekly and the Las Vegas Sun:

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In the News - Las Vegas Weekly

Thursday, December 15, 2011
Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Weekly

Our Unit is featured in this week's Las Vegas Weekly.  Thank you to Erin Ryan, the writer of this story.  She spent countless hours with our team and was even fortunate enough to go on a rescue with us (timing is everything).

Pick up your copy today!
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Helicopter Crash at Lake Mead

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Last night, all SAR officers responded to Lake Mead after receiving reports of a helicopter crash. The Air Unit fired up the Huey along with one of the smaller Bell's to respond. Although LVMPDSAR reached the scene of the crash within 45 minutes of receiving the call, Officers confirmed that all 5 passengers had died shortly after arriving to the scene.

One of the many news stories can be found here.

LVMPDSAR sends its condolences to all affected by the crash.

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Lost Hiker at Mt. Charleston

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Last Thursday, Mountain Rescue volunteers were called upon to help with the search of a lost hiker at Mt. Charleston. The hiker had ventured to the area with his dog on Wednesday with the intent of spending the night and heading back home on Thursday. However, on Thursday morning, he woke to a large accumulation of snow that had fallen during the night. Because of the storms that had rolled in and a large amount of snowfall, the hiker was unable to find the trail and chose to call for help.

In this case, it wasn't a cell phone that helped the hiker. He was carrying a device that not only communicated a gps location, but also had the ability to send messages. On Thursday, he sent his first message asking for help.

As volunteers and officer headed to the area on Thursday afternoon, they were met with very extreme weather conditions, including high winds and heavy amounts of snow. The team was unable to utilize the Unit's helicopters as a result and resorted to a plan to hike in by foot.

Just as the sun began to set, the hiker sent out a message saying that he was ok and that he and his dog were prepared to spend another night on the mountain seeing as though they had the appropriate gear to do so. Instead of sending rescue teams out in the precarious environment, it was decided that rescue operations would cease for the day and resume on Friday.

On Friday, LVMPDSAR was able to locate the stranded hiker and extract both he and his dog by helicopter. The hiker was met by his family at the SAR hangar. No injuries were reported.

Rescue teams were able to access the trail head by vehicle, but the extreme weather conditions prevented the team from accessing the hiker by helicopter.

Volunteers and officers searching for the hiker on foot.

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Busy Thanksgiving Weekend

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving weekend is a very busy time of year for places like Red Rock Canyon, Mt. Charleston, Lake Mead, and other surrounding outdoor recreational areas. The more people that head outdoors to enjoy the 70 degree weather, the higher the potential is for rescues. This year was no exception as SAR Officers and Mountain Rescue volunteers participated in back-to-back (and sometimes simultaneous) rescues that spanned the entire Holiday weekend.

Over the course of the weekend, Rescuers responded to an ATV crash, a climber who had fallen 30 feet, and a hiker who had broken their leg. All victims were treated at the scene, extracted from their location, and delivered to waiting ambulances. Although each of these rescues were significant, the highlights of the weekend went to a 1,000ft technical rescue in Black Velvet Canyon and the rescue of 7 teenagers from rising waters near Goldstrike Canyon.

Black Velvet - Dream of Wild Turkeys Technical Rescue

On Sunday morning, November 27, at 0700 hours, we began a continuation of a rescue attempt from the previous night in Black Velvet Canyon where two females became stuck between the top of the 3rd pitch and above the 2nd pitch on Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a). They were located approximately 500 feet off of the valley floor and were stranded because their rope had lodged itself in a crack, making it unusable.

Pilots, Officers, and MR Volunteers attempted to access the victims on Saturday night, but due to winds, terrain, and other factors, the decision to leave them on a ledge/crack was ultimately made in order to complete the rescue in a safer and more efficient manner on Sunday. Before leaving for the night, one Officer was dropped off at the base of the cliff where voice contact was made with the climbers. It was confirmed that they were prepared to spend the remainder of the night in their current location.

On Sunday morning, Offers and Volunteers met at the parking lot located near Black Velvet where one SAR pilot met them with the Bell 500. At 0700, the team, along with gear, were flown to an area that was approximately 500 feet above the females. The ledge that the team worked from was the closest location to land since the wall was mostly vertical. A second team was placed at the base of the canyon to act as spotters and help the rescuer reach the climbers.

Once technical systems were set up, one rescuer was lowered to the females. Upon arrival, the rescuer assessed each climber and determined that both were medically sound. The rescuer was then lowered to the location of the rope. He was unable to free the rope, but was able to cut it in such a manner that a portion of it could still be used. The rescuer was then raised back to the climbers where he helped them rappell back down to the valley floor. As the climbers moved from one belay station to the next, the rescuer was lowered alongside each of them. Once all members had reached the ground, the officer and 2 climbers hiked out of the canyon.

Sauna Cave - Goldstrike Canyon Huey Extraction

On Sunday, November 27th at approximately 1830 hours, a call came in regarding 7 teenagers that were north of Gold Strike Canyon in Sauna Cave.

They were able to walk to the cave prior to the dam releasing water causing the river to rise and cover the area that they had walked.

After the water subsided, it was too dark for them to feel comfortable to walk back. Aside from being scared, one of the girls had fallen in the river and became cold causing her to not want to walk back.

One Officer and one volunteer flew from the hangar in the Huey. On their way to Goldstrike, they landed and picked up one Officer in Boulder City since it was faster for him to drive there than back to the hangar.

Once the rescue crew was on board, they flew to the Colorado River near the mouth of Gold Strike canyon using Night Vision Goggles (NVGs). The victims were located by flashlights that they had turned on.

Crews landed 100 yards downriver from them on a sandbar where one Officer and one volunteer were dropped off. After making their way to the victims and insuring that no one was injured, an extraction plan was put in place. The first group contained 4 victims while the second group consisted of 3. Although some of the members complained of being cold, all 7 victims were uninjured and safely extracted from the area.

Rescue crews weren't able to capture pictures on all of the rescues, but were able to snap some shots of the 1,000 ft. Black Velvet rescue.

This picture was taken from the ledge that the team worked from.  The rescuer was lowered from this location to the stranded climbers.

The LZ for this rescue was very tight.  Our Chief Pilot successfully deposited and extracted rescuers and gear from this location.  The Officer seen in this photo is guiding the pilot into a one-skid landing.

This is a view of the edge.  The volunteer in this photo was the edge-person who was responsible for all communication between the rescuer and system operation team.

This is a snapshot from the edge-person's point of view looking up towards technical operations.  The team managing the main-line can be seen here.  The team managing belay are located on the left side of the picture, just out of sight.

Four volunteers and two officers managed technical operations above the stranded hikers.  Here's the team in all of their glory.  The team was happy knowing that the climbers could be safely extracted, were able to survive the chilly evening on the rock, and walked away with no injuries.

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3 Stranded Hikers and an Injured Ankle

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Every year, the Mountain Rescue Volunteers undergo two tests.  The first test insures that each member is sufficient in their technical rigging skills while the second is a physical test that measures each member's level of fitness.  Our goal is to be the best that we can be and these tests serve as an internal check and balance system that measures whether or not we're on our game.

This year, the team conducted these tests at Red Rock.  Normally our annual tests are predictable,  however, this year proved to be a little different.

Just as half of the team finished with the skills portion of the test, a call came in with a report of 3 hikers who were stranded near the peak of Mt. Charleston.  One of the hikers had fallen and severely injured their ankle.  As the details came in, two pilots from the Air Unit quickly flew the Huey to Red Rock to pick up one officer and two volunteers to respond to the call.

The first attempt to reach the stranded hikers proved to be extremely challenging.  Not only were they located at a high elevation, but they were in a spot that saw extremely windy conditions.  After several attempts, the winds prevailed and the initial attempt to reach the group was postponed in hopes of improved weather.  As the Huey flew the officer and volunteers back to Red Rock, it was determined that the entire team would potentially be needed to hike to the stranded hikers.

As the Huey landed at Red Rock, the Mountain Rescue team assembled and caravanned to Mt. Charleston.  It was also determined that the 500, our smaller helicopter, may be more effective in the extreme weather conditions.  Although the 3 hikers had cell phone reception and had communicated that they were preparing to spend the night, the goal of the rescue team was to get them off of the mountain before sundown.

After an approximate 2 hour delay, the 500 was able to successfully land close to the hikers, dropping off an officer to help.  In the end, 3 hikers and one dog were extracted from the mountain with the only injury being an injured ankle.  All of this was successfully accomplished before the sun set and temperatures plummeted near the peak of Mt. Charleston.

Here's the view of the trail as volunteers hiked White Rock Loop in full rescue gear.

A volunteer going through the skills test.

And the next thing you know, a call comes in.  This is a photo of the first group en route to Mt. Charleston in the Huey.  Erin, a Las Vegas Weekly reporter, came out to do a story on our Unit.  Her timing couldn't have been better as she rode along in the Huey to get a glimpse of what we do first-hand.

The 500 at Mt. Charleston just before take off.

Mountain Rescue volunteers in full gear, ready to respond.

It goes to show that there's never a dull moment!
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Dive Team in Action

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
I guess it's a little more difficult to take pictures while diving, which explains why we don't post very many photos of our dive team in action. Our dive team is a small group of dedicated divers that train once a month and have extensive experience. This group is also on-call 24/7 and responds to various types of missions in support of rescue, recovery, and crime scene investigation activity.

Here are some pictures from a recent training session at Lake Mead. Enjoy!

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Annual Short Haul & Fastrope Certification

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Each year, LVMPDSAR's pilots, officers, and MR volunteers either certify or re-certify for short haul and fastrope operations.  This is a big training day for the Unit because of the teamwork and coordination that it takes to keep everyone trained.

Here's a picture of a tandem shorthaul:

And here's what it looks like in real time.  This is a video of a volunteer being short hauled with a litter:

At the conclusion of the training session, all participants are certified to either fly or be involved in short haul and fastrope missions that are conducted by the Unit throughout the year.

Photos of the event can be found by visiting our Flickr page.  Enjoy!
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T-Shirt and a Tour Giveaway

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We have great news! We're going to be giving away a LVMPDSAR t-shirt and a tour of our hangar to five lucky recipients!


In order to be eligible for the giveaway, two things need to happen:

  1. You must 'Like' our page on Facebook. 
  2. We must have at least 1,000 'Likes' by the end of the year. 

What are the Details?

If #1 and #2 are met by 12:00am on January 1, 2012, we will randomly select 5 individuals from the pool of people who 'Like' us on Facebook as recipients.

What do you get?

Each recipient will receive one LVMPDSAR t-shirt and an invite to attend an exclusive tour of our hangar.

How will you be notified?

Recipients will be notified via a private message in Facebook no later than January 15, 2012.

How do you enter?

All that you have to do is log into your Facebook account, head to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Search and Rescue page, and click on the 'Like' button!  Here's the link just in case you've never visited us before:


Remember, we must have 1,000 Likes by the end of the year, so after you've clicked on the Like button, spread the word!

Thank you so much for your continued support!

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Basic's Class 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011
Earlier this year, we opened recruitment for our Mountain Rescue Unit and as our mid-July cut-off date approached, we had received over 120 interest forms. After hosting an orientation, physical fitness test, and in-person interviews, we chose 12 people to attend this year's Basic's class. This month, our Basic's Class members will go through rigorous training and testing with the ultimate hope of being selected as a volunteer. Here's the new group at work at Red Rock:

This year's class ends in November. If you notice a group of people in yellow rescue shirts out on the rock, you'll know that it's us!
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Training, Training, and more Training!

Friday, September 30, 2011

We've been awfully quiet lately and I'm sure that everyone is wondering why.

Remember the fundraiser that we held earlier this Summer? Those funds, along with funds that are so graciously given to us throughout the year, have been put to really good use in recent weeks. Our Unit conducts in-house training, however, it's always great to consider a new perspective every so often. In an effort to expand our technical knowledge of rescue operations, our Unit brought in an agency called Rigging for Rescue, who visited us here in Las Vegas and managed a 4-day seminar specifically tailored to the needs of our team.

Here are some pictures of the team learning new techniques:

And hey, if anchors aren't available, you can always build your own!

Not only was the seminar fun, but all volunteer participants will definitely agree that new knowledge is invaluable.  We couldn't have done it without the support from all of you, so thank you!
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Overton, Red Rock, and a Reprieve from the Heat

Sunday, August 28, 2011

When it comes to rescues, it's impossible to predict what's going to happen or where we'll end up next. Last week, we responded to Overton and Red Rock Canyon for separate missions. One involved an ATV crash and the other was a response to a stranded climber.

August 17th - ATV crash in Overton

Bureau of Land Management Officers were out conducting a cattle survey in the Area Northeast of Overton Beach. They conducted this survey using 4- wheeler ATV's and started around 1230 in the afternoon.

They came to an area where they had to drive up a wash area that went up approximately 60-70 feet. The first Officer made it to the top on the initial attempt. The second Officer followed suit and became stuck. After backing up and making several more attempts to make it up the hill, his wheel came off the ground and he lost balance. Unable to get off of the 4 wheeler, it rolled with the Officer several times down the hill stopping close to the bottom where it wedged against 2 scrub trees.

The Officer was wearing riding gear and a helmet, both legs were trapped underneath the 4 wheeler and he was face down. The first Officer was unable to lift the quad off his partner's legs, so he drove his quad to an area where he was able to get cell phone service and called for help. This area took approximately 1.5 hours to get to.

While his partner was getting help, the trapped Officer was able to deflate a tire and push with his freed leg to pull the other leg out.

Both subjects had run out of water, and per the details that were stated by the Officers, both were dehydrated, and one was hyperthermic.

Upon our arrival we had the first Officer go to Air 6 to be evalulated/hydrated. Our Unit helped to treat the injured atv patient who had visible minor burns on his right leg, no loss of conscious, pain to right ankle and pain in upper right quadrant and lower left quadrant. He was placed in a c-collar, back boarded, and his ankle was splinted. Some anti-nasuea medicine and water was also orally administered.

Due to the terrain, the injured Officer was hoisted approximately 60 feet into air 6. Both victims were flown to staged medical. The injured Officer was transported by mercy air to UMC, and the other Officer was transported to UMC by ground ambulance.

August 18th - Stranded Climber at Red Rock

At 1700 hours, two Officers and two Pilots were dispatched to the Calico 2 area of Red Rock Canyon referencing 3 hikers. One who was stuck on a ledge and unable to move for fear of falling 90 feet.

Upon arrival, Officers could see the 18 year old male victim in distress on a down sloping portion of a formation near the top of calico 2. One Officer was hoisted approximately 80 feet to a safe area above the victim. The victim was on a foot-wide area on a down sloping ledge that went vertical where he was located. He stated that he "couldn't feel his leg and he was going to fall." He was unable to move up or down from his position, but had wedged himself and had decent contact with the rock.

The Officer used his 30 foot 8mil rope, attached it to the victim harness and talked him through putting it on around his waist and one leg. After being secured, the Officer anchored himself and encouraged the victim to work his way toward him. Once in a safe spot, he was hoisted out and handed off to BLM and Metro Resident Officers. Air 6 then returned to collect the remaining two victims and Officer.

The victims stated they had began hiking around 2 pm, they started at sandstone and were unfamiliar with the area, ending up above calico 2 area. They said the stranded hiker had deviated from the others and had become stuck trying to work down to them.

Other than a couple of rescues here and there, we've made an attempt to take a reprieve from the heat by practicing some of our skills indoors rather than outside. In this picture, we're practicing knot passes on rappel and ascent with the help of our 6 ton crane and portable stairs.

Here's a shot of our Huey's at rest, but ready for rescue response.

Stay safe and hydrated!
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Cold Creek and Mary Jane Falls Rescues

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Sunday, August 7, two Officers responded to two different rescues:

The first rescue was a search for a man who was supposed to be hiking in Cold Creek.  Trails were searched, including Wheeler Pass without locating the man. After flying the area and feeling confident that we did not miss him, we cleared from the call pending further information and investigation by ground units. The man later turned up somewhere in town.

The second rescue of the day was at Mary Jane Falls. A 10 year old boy had fallen 12 feet and sustained a back injury. As a result of the accident, he was unable to walk.

A rescue pilot flew one officer to the scene while the second officer drove to the Mary Jane Falls trailhead.

The helicopter was able to perform a two-skid toe-in at the base of the falls and the Offcer was able to get out and begin to treat the victim. Once the second Officer arrived, he was flown to the same location along with the litter and backboard.

Nevada Division of Forestry firefighters arrived and assisted the two Officers with placing the boy on the Miller Board and into the litter. The boy was then carried back to the LZ where the helicopter was able to land and pick them up. One officer flew with the victim to the trailhead parking lot and passed the victim off to AMR for transport to UMC trauma.

The helicopter then returned to pick up the second Officer.

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First Online Fundraiser

Monday, August 1, 2011

Last month, we conducted our very first online fundraiser, aimed at raising funds for the volunteers that help support this Unit. Much of the equipment that is used to conduct rescue missions are purchased by the volunteers themselves. Money donated by members of the Community help to subsidize the cost of this equipment. As you can imagine, each volunteer is beyond thankful for every contribution that is made.

Total raised = $1,225

We'd like to thank the following donors:

  • Michael Perkins
  • Beebe Clark
  • Jeremy Wallace
  • John McConvill
  • Nicholas Canepa
  • Erin Pavlina
  • Danielle C.
  • Philip McKay
  • Thomas Lawlor
  • Justin Stafford
  • Jacqueline Wetzel
  • Matt and Stacy Waltz
  • Jerry and Linda Richardson
  • The Bluth Family
  • Erik Sandhu
  • The Richardson/Davis Family
  • Cheryl Tritley
  • Angie Paul
  • Andy Wallace
  • Amy Ling
  • Alan Pritchard
  • Wet Rat Consult
  • Patrick McCarrick
Thank you again for your kind contributions and support!
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Show Your Support!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Last Thursday afternoon, seven Mountain Rescue volunteers dropped everything that they were doing and headed to Mt. Charleston in response to reports of a fallen climber. It was early afternoon, so many left work. Others gave up their day off. Each volunteer climbed into their personal vehicle and used their own gear to drive to Mt. Charleston, hike to the location of the fallen climber, and help with the recovery. Nearly 6 hours later, each volunteer headed back down the mountain, back to their normal lives. This type of scenario selflessly occurs numerous times throughout the year.

These are the people that you'll be supporting when you make a tax-deductible donation. Our July fundraiser is wrapping up, so make a donation today to help subsidize the out-of-pocket expenses that are incurred by our volunteers. Every little bit helps!
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Fallen Hiker at Mt. Charleston

Friday, July 29, 2011

Yesterday morning, SAR units were dispatched to an area above the Big Falls trail at Mt. Charleston in response to reports of three stranded hikers, one of which had fallen 70 feet. Two officers were initially flown in by Huey where they located one of the stranded hikers. While rescuing the hiker, they learned that one of the hikers was able to return to the parking lot on their own while the other hiker had fallen off of the cliff face in front of them after a branch that he had been hanging onto broke.

While conducting the rescue for the stranded hiker, winds in the canyon began to increase, making it difficult to use the helicopter. As a result, Mountain Rescue volunteers were called to the area to help with the hiker who had fallen.

Seven volunteers responded and joined one officer in hiking to the base of the cliff, just behind Mt. Charleston Fire Department personnel. The two officers who had helped to rescue the stranded hiker began making their way down the cliff face. The fallen hiker's body was initially discovered by fire personnel. Rescue teams estimate the actual fall to be upwards of 150 feet.

Trail to Big Falls - Hiking in

LVMPDSAR officers documented the scene and volunteers helped to extricate the fallen hiker. Because of the remote location, the body was lowered approximately 400 feet in the direction of the hiking trail that leads to Big Falls. By this time, winds had died down, so the 500 was called in to short haul the fallen hiker and rescue personnel out of the canyon.

Waiting for the 500 to arrive

500 coming in to short haul

LVMPDSAR sends its deepest condolences to family and friends of the fallen hiker.

Several local news agencies reported on the story:
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GPS vs. LightSquared

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

There's been lots of talk in the news lately about a new company called LightSquared, a business based out of Virginia that is planning on building the next open wireless broadband network. This new network will utilize satellites to provide 4G-LTE coverage to millions of broadband Users.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) also uses signals from satellites, along with algorithms, to determine location. GPS functionality has become commonplace for many people around the globe, including automobile and aviation navigation for drivers and pilots, smartphone users, hikers, and military personnel.

Why is there so much concern about the intent of this new company and current GPS technology?

According to PNT (Positioning, Navigation, Timing), LightSquared plans on transmitting signals "immediately adjacent to GPS frequencies". Because LightSquared's transmissions originate from the ground, the concern is that their signals will over-power GPS signals, which originate from space. Although LightSquared and GPS signals will travel on separate frequencies, it is believed that units will favor LightSquared signals over GPS signals because of frequency proximity and strength. This means that all electronics that currently contain GPS components and functionality have the potential to be compromised by LightSquared's signals.

Because this is new technology, LightSquared must achieve FCC approval before their network goes live.

If this is a debate that you're interested in chiming in on, there are a couple of days left to express your concerns and/or opinion. The FCC established a comment deadline of July 30, 2011. Check out the Public Notice for more information.

Either way, it's fun to learn how that little GPS unit that you depend on so much actually works!
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Fundraiser and Feature Story

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thanks to your overwhelming generosity, our July fundraiser has been a huge success! Because of the numerous donations that we've received, we upped our original goal from $1,000 to $2,000. As of this morning, we're at $1,105, so help us spread the word. We've got 6 days left to achieve our new goal! Our volunteers go out of pocket to purchase a majority of the equipment that's used for training and rescue missions. Your donations help to offset these costs and we couldn't be more thankful for all of the contributions that have been made. Visit our fundraising site to make a donation or click on the Donate button on this page!

Yesterday, Mountain Rescue volunteers were at Mt. Charleston conducting a training session to help hone the team's search skills. The scenario was a missing 14 year old girl who left her campsite after arguing with her parents. MR volunteers worked with Air Support and other agencies to find the girl, who had wandered from the Meadows area down one of the nearby canyons. After finding the girl, volunteers treated injuries and the Air Unit helped to extracted the patient by helicopter. Fox 5 News was on site and captured the following story:

Volunteers participate in 24 training sessions per year that total about 145. Volunteers are also on call 24/7 and respond to rescues in various areas of Southern Nevada. Community involvement is very important to us and we appreciate all of the support that we receive!
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Knee Injury at Mt. Charleston

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Today, one Mountain Rescue Volunteer and two Officers responded to the Little Falls trail at Mt. Charleston. Initial reports indicated that a 39 year-old female hiker had injured her ankle and knee while hiking the trail.

Upon arrival, Fire and Ambulance Units had responded to the scene and reached the patient. In order to extract the patient, one Officer was lowered by hoist along with a litter. The Officer, along with Fire personnel, splinted the patient's knee and carried the patient about 200 yards down the trail in order to prepare for extraction. The patient was hoisted out of the canyon along with the Officer. The patient was delivered to a waiting ambulance who transported the patient to the hospital.

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