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Search and Rescue

Klamath County SAR volunteers hike to locate a Personal Locator Beacon.

Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers from Southern Oregon have responded to seven separate missions over the last 48 hours.

First, a male hiker from California requested medical aid for a suspected heart attack while hiking on Mt. McLoughlin August 14. Klamath and Jackson Counties SAR worked together and dispatched Brin Aviation to transport the hiker to a hospital in Medford. The gentleman is reportedly doing fine today.

Later that day, a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) alerted in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness. These devices, easily purchased at many retailers, indicate distress by the user via satellite signals when activated in remote areas. Klamath County volunteers hiked to Lake Harriet and found an Ashland gentleman who was camping and had accidentally activated the PLB.

At the same time several of Klamath’s Dive volunteers, who were conducting a training near MP 57 on Hwy 140, were approached by a person who reported that their companion was going to attempt suicide. The SAR volunteers notified 911 and waited with the individual until additional help arrived on-scene by Oregon State Police.

Simultaneously, two horseback riders from the Medford area called for assistance because they had become lost in the Sky Lakes Wilderness. Since Klamath SAR was already engaged Jackson County volunteers responded, located the riders, and escorted them out.

While Klamath County volunteers were leaving the PLB case they were alerted to another lost hiker call. This time they responded to the Spence Mountain Trail, where a woman had become separated from her hiking partner. Klamath County SAR located the group, who were from Southern California, and led them to the trailhead.

On August 15 two separate calls for help came in related to hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). First, a Roseburg man hiking with a small group called for medical assistance, possibly related to altitude sickness. Klamath and Jackson Counties SAR found the hikers near Mt. McLoughlin and assisted them out; the man has recovered.

Next, a through-hiker traveling the PCT from Mexico to Canada called for medical assistance, possibly related to dehydration. Klamath and Douglas Counties SAR coordinated and Douglas SAR responded. The hiker, found near the Klamath-Douglas line, was assisted by other hikers and SAR, recovered quickly, and continued on to Canada.

Jail Commander and SAR Coordinator Brian Bryson said this many lost or disabled hiker missions is not unusual; on average, Klamath County SAR responds to anywhere from 25 to over 100 calls for assistance per year. This many in a short period of time, however, puts a strain on the volunteers who perform the work.

“Coordination between all of our counties is vital to saving lives when so much is going on at the same time,” said Bryson. He also said that Klamath County’s SAR teams, which include north and south county teams and mounted and dive rescue, put in 10-12,000 hours of training and response time per year.

Klamath County’s dive rescue volunteers alone have performed tens of hours of work the past several weeks assisting Jackson, Jefferson, Deschutes, and Wasco Counties with searches related to drownings. Klamath County’s team has a specialized site scan sonar boat that allows them to perform this type of work.

“Our volunteers are simply awesome. They drop everything and do this on their own time,” said Bryson.

If interested in becoming a Klamath County SAR volunteer, contact Lt. Bryson at 541-883-5130 or checkout the volunteer section of the Klamath County Sheriff’s webpage.