For the last ten months I've been training to be a member of a local search and rescue group. The first half was spent doing pre-certification - first aid, rock climbing classes, posse training, etc - and more recently we've been working as a recruit class on foundational pieces. In fact, in May we did an entire mock mission involving search, technical rescue, and air evacuation. And last month things began to heat up.
See, when I first looked into joining Mountain Rescue I imagined bushwhacking through the wilderness, searching for lost hikers in the desert. That isn't really what happens out here. A combination of technology (cell phones) and air support can make the first part of search and rescue fairly easy. It's the second part that the Mountain Rescue posse is specialized for, the rock, underground, alpine, swiftwater rescues.
This summer we get to focus on technical rock, everything from anchor construction to rigging up main lines for high angle rescues. This is all brand new territory for me. I took those rock climbing classes through AMC and… everything else about ropes is still shiny-new. Hoping that some reading on the side combined with a willingness to learn will keep me from making any rookie mistakes.
Besides the educational side of things, this whole rescue thing has already been paying off in a few ways. I mean, it sucks away a lot of time (which is something that a father of three doesn't much of to began with), and both my wife and I have had to make some sacrifices to stay involved. However, I have met some great people, both in my recruit class and in the group itself. Plus this has given me some fitness goals to strive for.
The only immediate downside is how quiet things have been. Just before the mock mission all of us recruits were added to their pager system for call-outs and there's been nothing, not a single page. Training is useful and the people are good, but we are all in this to rescue people. A lot of forest land in Arizona is closed for fire restrictions, that could be keeping potential situations from happening. I guess it's a weird thing to wish for.