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Emergency Contact Number

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Emergency Contact Number

Postby Sloop » Tue May 18, 2010 12:48 pm

Hello all!

I am just preparing a little safety package so if my backpacking party doesn't show a day or two past when we're due, they have a phone number and our hiking itinerary to use.

In addition, I saw that someone on here recommended leaving a copy of our intended route under the seat of the car. That seemed like a good idea. If anyone has any other suggestions to make it easier in case bad stuff happens, it would be much appreciated.

I couldn't seem to find what number they should call, anyone know it? We'll be in Sequoia/Kings & Yosemite.

Thanks!



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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby rlown » Tue May 18, 2010 2:20 pm

with most pre-arranged reservations, you get a few sheets of paper, confiriming your reservation and where you'll pick up the reservation. I tend to leave my wife a copy of that sheet, and the issuing permit station is the number i point to if i'm not back when i say i will be. Since i tend to go in a group, i'm kinda also counting on someone in my group getting back and reporting any situation.

The permit station should be well versed in initiating a search if necessary, so that's the number i share. Funny that we're not required to "check-out."
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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby EpicSteve » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:29 am

I've been trying to do the same thing and I too have had trouble finding specific numbers to leave for my wife. The problem I have with leaving numbers for permit stations and other ranger stations is that those stations are closed at night and that's when my wife would realize I'm overdue. I think calling the nearest county Sheriff's office would be the best bet. My understanding is that they're involved in the coordination of SAR operations on most public lands anyway, although I think National Parks are an exception. But they'd probably be able to either contact the appropriate agency or at least point my wife in the right direction. It would be great to see a post about this from someone with specific knowledge of SAR protocol.
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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby rlown » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:03 pm

Ok. I'm not a SAR member, but sometimes I do change my itinerary at the trailhead, so the permit station might only be the one who knows what i've done.

I found this example of a call-out scenario from the El Dorado county SAR: http://comspark.com/esarc/reference/callout.htm

Given this is only one county, i'm betting that each county and/or forest service division has their own tree, and a 911 call from, let's say, the bay area, wouldn't really work that well.

I'm also thinking that if they get a call after dark, they might only organize a morning search start, and that would still be dependent on where you really were going according to your logged permit. In an NPS might be different than in a FS-governed wilderness area.

I was hoping GDurkee would respond, but i suspect he's somewhere in the backcountry.
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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby gdurkee » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:09 pm

OK. The bad news is I don't really know what the protocols are for other agencies. For anyone other than a National Park, the county Sheriff will be the responsible agency. So find that number of the area you're in and leave it with family or friend. For a National Park, it's the park number -- not an easy thing to get so you can be connected with a live person after hours. The switchboard number usually has an option for a 911 or immediate connect, and that's what you want.

I like the idea of leaving your itinerary in your vehicle. Sequoia Kings permit issuers usually ask for your car license number. If they (or USFS) don't, ask to have it included. It should be no problem and is a good idea. Also, of course, where it'll be parked ("Onion Valley Trailhead"). For both Sequoia Kings and Yosemite, you're not overdue until a family member or friend calls you in as such. There's no keeping track of permits. When that happens, we'll try to find your permit, then the vehicle. If the vehicle's gone, voila!, not our problem. If still there, we do interviews to try to find alternate routes, then start talking to rangers and other hikers in the same area as well as start some form of search.

But it is vital that you leave your itinerary with a friend or family member. Include your route, who's with you (and contact numbers), possible alternate routes; when you go in; when you plan to be out. And, as mentioned, leave that in your vehicle, maybe on a folded piece of paper on the driver's seat. Have an agreement with your friend/family on how long they'll wait before calling you overdue.

I'll post an advisory document I just wrote for SPOTs and PLB devices on a new thread. Stand by.

George
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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby BrianF » Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:14 pm

Here are some contact numbers I have gleaned over the years. These are all the "dispatch" numbers and I believe they are all manned 24/7, these are emergency numbers only. George is right that outside of the National Parks the County Sherrif is the responsible agency. If you are calling about an emergency from the vicinity of the emergency you should call 911, these numbers are handy for a contact person back home
Inyo County Sherrif Dept Dispatch - 760-878-0383
Mono County Sherrif Dispatch -760-932-7549
Sequoia/Kings Canyon Nat'l Park dispatch - 559-565-3195
Yosemite Nat'l Park dispatch- 209-379-1992
Last edited by BrianF on Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby maverick » Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:42 pm

Thanks Brian for the dispatch numbers.
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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby Jedi5150 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:51 pm

I can chime in a little bit in regards to emergency call-out numbers. I've been on SAR for 11 years and a deputy sheriff for the past 8. All 911 calls from a cell phone in California go straight to CHP dispatch. That's not necissarily a bad thing as they will then route the call to the most appropriate local dispatch center for PD, SO, Fire, EMS, etc. Of course the downside is that it does add one more step to the process and thus takes slightly longer.

SAR missions are classified as an "emergency". So forget about non-emergency dispatch numbers which may or may not be answered after hours. If you know the direct number to your local Sheriff's Office dispatch you could use it in place of 911, but be sure that it is both an emergency and non-emergency number, and answered after-hours. In the county I work in we don't have any national parks so I can't speak to who has investigative authority (jurisdiction) for handling the search. We do, however, have a number of State Parks in our county.

State Parks (the rangers) are in charge of SAR missions on their property in the strictest sense. In practicality, however, the local Sheriff's Office will typically "take over" the mission as early as possible. This is simply because Sheriff's SAR teams have a lot more resources, practice and manpower than State Parks when it comes to running a SAR operation. The two agencies (state and local) will then work together until the mission is complete.

If you are somehow able to make contact with the outside world here is another tip for letting them know where you are. As a general rule, aircraft (helicopters and fixed wing) will typically use Lat./ Long. to locate you and coordinate their search. Ground teams on the other hand will more often than not use MGRS (Military Grid Reference System)/ UTM. So it's not a bad idea to know your location using both systems if possible. If using MGRS/ UTM it also helps to know which datum you're using. NAD 27 and NAD 83 can be about 300 meters off if I remember right and that could make a big difference if you're in tight terrain.
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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby rlown » Sat Jun 19, 2010 6:45 pm

Thanks for the numbers, BrianF! Actually put them in my contacts list.

So, I pulled out my permit reservation letter from Inyo for Sept and reviewed it; no emergency contact info. Also, their site URL info was out of date. I guess they're using up old stationary with "usda" instead of "fs".

Anyway, I submitted feedback to them that they should update their standard form with current data as well as SAR contacts for after hours emergency info.

Some of this is so obviously in need of standardization, it's not funny, whether State, Fed, or NPS (special fed). Thats like, what, 4 conference calls between orgs? :\

Russ
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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby gdurkee » Sat Jun 19, 2010 8:44 pm

For the Sequoia & Yosemite numbers, I'll add DO NOT use those for anything other than an emergency. Both dispatch centers are handling several parks, dozens of rangers and other personnel, law enforcement operations etc.. They don't have time for anything other than an emergency.

If you connect by cell phone, it's also a good idea to give all your information to the first dispatcher you talk to rather than wait to be transferred to the responsible agency. Too often the call gets dropped (I'd say 50% of the time) and the information is too sketchy to use effectively. Once you've called in an emergency -- and assuming it's safe to stay there -- DON'T MOVE from the place you said you were. Don't make it harder to find you.

Also, while it's true that different SAR teams and agencies use different coordinate systems, I'd recommend sticking with Lat/Long in either decimal degrees or degrees minutes seconds. Those are pretty universal. Also true about making sure you specify Datum. Many USGS maps are still NAD 27. Your GPS will convert to anything you set it to, but I'd recommend keeping it in NAD83 or WGS 84 (both essentially the same).

PS:
Some of this is so obviously in need of standardization, it's not funny, whether State, Fed, or NPS (special fed). Thats like, what, 4 conference calls between orgs?


No. Really only 2 -- NPS and county Sheriff. County handles all SAR for USFS land and, according to Jedi, for State Parks. Sequoia Kings & Yosemite are exclusive jurisdiction and so handles all SAR & EMS in-park. We routinely coordinate when one gets a call that might fall into the other's boundaries, so you only have to talk to the one where the problem is.

George
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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby dave54 » Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:59 pm

rlown wrote:...Some of this is so obviously in need of standardization, it's not funny, whether State, Fed, or NPS (special fed). Thats like, what, 4 conference calls between orgs? :\


It has been highly standardized. Most of the NF dispatch offices in California are now joint interagency with all the local fire, state fire, and EMS.

By law, the sheriff office is responsible for SAR on NF and BLM lands, but if the lost party is in a remote area of the national forest the first call they make is to the USFS for help. During the winter, the FS has more snowmobiles and snow cats than a rural sheriff dept can muster. The FS has a warehouse full of topo maps and gear, has people that know the backcountry conditions and road system better than the patrol deputies, and a radio system that covers the backcountry better than the sheriff comm system. So the sheriff is the lead agency, but people in many different uniforms could be out searching.

Use the coordinate system you have if you don't know the lat long. The dispatch centers have the software on their consoles that convert one to other with a click of the mouse. PLSS, UTM, aircraft VOR, or even road paddle markers, doesn't matter. The positional difference between NAD27 and NAD83 is about 80 meters around here, close enough that searchers could find you. The difference between NAD83 and WGS84 is roughly the width of your boot, so for all practical purposes consider them interchangeable.
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Re: Emergency Contact Number

Postby EpicSteve » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:29 am

Wow, great info! To everyone who has contributed to this thread: thank you very much!
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