When training turns to reality – November 15, 2015

The Altadena Mountain Rescue Team was out early Sunday morning for our monthly team training exercise. This month had the team working on ELT (Emergency Location Transmitter) and L-per directional finders.

The morning began early for the “victims” in the training operation, as two team members made their way into the Arroyo Seco to place the ELT and stage a member portraying the injured pilot of a downed aircraft.

As three groups of team members were fanned out across the local mountains to begin the process of locating the ELT, the two members located in the Arroyo Seco took the available time to assess the condition of some of the trails in the area. This area of the Angeles National Forest sees heavy usage, especially among mountain bikers. Being familiar with the main trail and any spur trails in the area is vital.

Having hiked to the debris basin and assessed a side trail, the AMRT members made their way back to the location of the ELT, crossing paths with numerous mountain bikers and a few trail runners along the way.

Once back at the location of the ELT, while reviewing the medical scenario to be presented to the first team on scene for the training operation, the training turned into a real rescue operation.

A trail runner, coming down from the debris dam, stumbled and fell to the ground approximately 100 feet up trail from the AMRT members. From her reaction it appeared she had suffered an injury to her right ankle. The two AMRT members approached the victim and her companion, introduced themselves and asked if she needed medical assistance. Initially she thought she would be able to make it out of the Arroyo and back to her vehicle with the assistance of her running companion. Attempts to place weight on the ankle proved otherwise.

At that time, the training officer called an end to the team training and informed the team of the now active rescue operation. While waiting for the arrival of a litter and additional team members, the members on scene prepped the victim, splinting her right ankle and cleaning a wound on her left knee.arroyo 11 15 2015 01


Because team members were deployed locally for the training, they were quick to arrive with the litter and litter wheel needed to transport the victim down trail to a team vehicle. Once at the team vehicle, the victim was transferred from the litter and driven, along with her companion, to their personal vehicle.

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There have been many times a training exercise has been cut short because of a call for a real operation. This may be the first time team members actually witnessed the incident they incident that caused the injury.

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