State SAR Coordinators Get Hands-on Training for Winter Missions

Massive Snowfall Creates Need for Awareness, Caution and WSAR Teams California governor Edmund G. Brown declared a state of emergency for 50 out of the 58 counties that were hit hard by storms in January. Snow accumulation in the higher elevations topped 18 feet in some locations. More precipitation is on the way for this week which should mean even more snow in the mountains. So the warnings continue – be careful, slow down when driving, and don’t go out in stormy conditions if you don’t have to.

Cal OES search and rescue teams are always training, and so are its SAR partners. Week-long winter SAR training just ended at Mammoth Lakes. It’s where WSAR coordinators from around the state get hands-on experience with the equipment and tools used in WSAR operations, training given by some of the state’s best. We went along on last year’s training to see what’s involved in making sure teams are ready to beat brutal conditions to save lives. Watch the video to see for yourself.

This year’s training:

“Direction and Control of the Search Function – Winter SAR Operations” is a 5-Day, 40-hour POST approved classroom and field instruction course with trained, professional, experienced instructors. The course is designed by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Law Enforcement Branch for search and rescue coordinators in agencies that may need to conduct a search and rescue mission during severe winter conditions. The course is directed toward search and rescue coordinators, their alternates, team leaders and others having those management responsibilities.

Course objectives included:

  • How to properly manage a winter search
  • Understand the importance of the Winter Search Pre-plan
  • Identification and utilization of winter resources; discuss their functions and limitations
  • Special considerations for cold weather operations
  • Understanding cold weather medical injuries and hypothermia
  • The selection of mountain backpacks, contents, and personal clothing
  • Identify key factors in avalanche rescue
  • Utilization of aircraft in winter operations
  • Winter ground search mobility (Nordic skiing, snow shoeing, special equipment, etc.)
  • Personal survival in “winter” conditions (sheltering)




Shawn Boyd

Shawn Boyd joined Cal OES as a public information officer in 2014 after a 20-year career in television news as a reporter, anchor and executive producer. He's a Cal State Sacramento alum and former US Navy yeoman and Air Force brat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: