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LASD Mountain Rescue – Multi-Agency Training


San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team participates in Multi-Agency Rescue Drill performing multiple training exercises involving law enforcement and rescue units.

On July 17th, 18th and 19th, 2012, the San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team participated in a multi-agency set of training exercises involving various law enforcement and rescue units. Participants included stations in Los Angeles County Fire Department's Battalion 2 and 16, Los Angeles County Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR), the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team, San Bernardino County Fire resources to include their Urban Search and Rescue Team and Engine 12, Angeles National Forest Service engine crews, the Dalton Hot Shots, the Mt. Baldy Volunteer Fire Department, the California Highway Patrol, and the Cole Schaffer Ambulance Company, and personnel from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department San Dimas Station. In addition to these ground resources, the exercise also included Los Angeles County Fire Department's Copter 12, and Air 5 from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Over the three days, well over 100 personnel participated in the exercises.

Each of the three days were broken into two drills one in the morning on Glendora Mountain Road at Little Dalton Dam, and one in the afternoon on Mt. Baldy Road at the San Antonio Dam. Each drill simulated a multi-victim over-the-side incident either several vehicles or a bus. At the start of each drill a "first on scene" unit was chosen to roll in to the incident, provide analysis of the situation, and assign resources as they would in an actual event. The various agencies would then begin to work together to solve the problem, forming a multi-agency command post following Incident Command Structure protocols, and getting crews over the side to rescue multiple victims.

From an over-the-side perspective, each drill included four rescue teams. In the morning exercises one team was led by the San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team who utilized a winch truck unit. Another team was led by the Angeles Forest Service who utilized lowering and raising rope systems. A third team was led by Los Angeles County Fire's Quint 86, who also used rope systems, and a fourth team was led by Los Angeles County Fire's USAR 103, who worked with Copter 12 to conduct a hoist-out operation with their victim. In addition, Air 5 assisted the San Dimas Mountain Rescue team with air operations. To further simulate real-world conditions, various agency supervisors acted as team leaders in control of each operation, providing experience with inter-agency coordination. Resources were assigned to the team leaders so different stations and agencies could work together. This allowed each agency to observe, and participate, in over-the-side rescue operations, and provided a valuable cross-training experience. Accordingly, during the three days the San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team worked directly with the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team and a number of Los Angeles County Fire resources including personnel from stations 32, 62, 64, 85, 86, 101 and others. In the command post, San Dimas Mountain Rescue personnel participated as department representatives and worked with virtually every unit involved in the exercises.

Personnel from each agency had an opportunity to address the group with input on the drill, and to discuss any specific protocols for this type of incident. A detailed safety briefing was also conducted, as was an air operations briefing, where members were reminded how to work safely around and under helicopters. At the end of each drill a de-briefing was conducted where participants had a chance to critique the event, talk about what went well and discuss ways to improve the process of rescuing multiple victims with multiple agencies.

This exercise took several months to plan and was a valuable opportunity for the San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team to work with a variety of resources the team works with during actual operations in the mountains. This also gave the Team a chance to practice with other units in the team's area of expertise over-the-side incidents. The San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team has specialized equipment and significant training and experience in handling these types of operations, and these three days allowed the team to demonstrate to, and participate with, these multiple agencies. Although the Team is a 100% reserve company, which means they had to take time off from work to participate in these drills, the individual team members made it a priority to participate. The ultimate goal of these exercises was to provide an open working relationship between county, state and federal resources to provide an efficient, unified response to incidents that occur in our local mountains, in order to provide life-saving services to the community we protect and serve. By all accounts, this goal was not only met but was exceeded.

Since 1955 the all-volunteer San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team has served communities along the eastern edge of the San Gabriel Valley. The Team's response area encompasses approximately 367 square miles of the rugged San Gabriel Mountains and Angeles National Forest. Each year, the Team responds to operations which include car over the side incidents, searches for lost persons, rescue operations for injured hikers, searches for downed aircraft, swift water incidents, fire evacuations, and various other requests for emergency assistance from local and out-of-county agencies as far away as Northern California.

For further information contact:

Lieutenant A. Berg

San Dimas Sheriff's Station

270 S. Walnut Avenue, San Dimas, CA 91773

(909) 450-2700

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