“Rescue 1” Search and Rescue Success for YCSO Air Operations
YCSO Search and Rescue Helicopter, “RESCUE 1” was an integral part of the most recent search and rescue effort of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO). Just before 4 PM on Sunday, March 9, 2014, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s office was notified regarding a missing person in the Sycamore Canyon area of the Verde Valley. A group of hikers had left the prior day for a planned campout at a predestinated location in Sycamore Canyon. The group returned to the trailhead on March 9, 2014, but a 33-year-old female, identified as Jennifer Thompson from Phoenix, had fallen behind and was apparently lost. The group waited several hours at the trailhead for Thompson, and when she did not arrive, they contacted the Sheriff’s Office.
To expedite the search effort and due to impending darkness, Rescue 1 was launched just after 5 PM to conduct an aerial flyover of the target area. Additionally, GPS tracking data from Thompson’s cell phone was used to aid the Rescue 1 crew. Around 5:50 PM, Rescue 1 located the missing camper, landed, and then brought her to safety. Searchers learned she had taken a wrong turn leading her about 4 miles away from the correct trail. Just prior to being found, Thompson was able to find the appropriate trail, but was still 2 miles from the trail head. She was extremely appreciative of the effort.
As evidenced in recent months, Rescue 1 has been a critical link to quickly finding lost/stranded/missing wilderness seekers. Impending darkness, Thompson’s light clothing in anticipation of expected low nighttime temperatures, and her lack of survival gear, underscore YCSO’s need for this valuable tool with crews on the ready every day.
RESCUE 1 Robinson R44 Helicopter Donated to YCSO by Guidance Aviation
On Friday, January 20, 2012, Guidance Aviation presented to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) the newly painted Robinson R44 helicopter (“RESCUE 1”) which Guidance Aviation donated to the YCSO in October, 2010.
Present at the event were Sheriff Mascher, Sheriff Waugh (retired), Commander Russell, Lt. Newnum, Dwight Develyn (YCSO Media/Crime Prevention Coordinator), and County Board Members.
Lessons from this Search and Rescue
Thompson was wearing bright clothing which aided the aerial search / Thompson possessed a working cell phone allowing GPS tracking / Fellow campers should have contacted YCSO as soon as it was known Thompson was lost and alone – Time delays can complicate search efforts especially when darkness is near / Thompson should have remained stationary upon realization she was lost – a moving target is generally more difficult for searchers to locate in these circumstances.