NAPA COUNTY SHERIFF, SEARCH AND RESCUE
On Saturday, February 26, 2011 about 2230 hours a notice from the County Warn system arrived via phone and Internet.
The message requested all Search Personnel to respond for two women and one dog lost in the Lowley Toll Road Palisades area.
We were to assemble at the Calistoga Police Department. As David AE6W was the first to arrive at Calistoga, he began logging in responders.
I realized as I left the house that I was about out of fuel in the car. So luckily the Standard Service Station one block from my house is open 24 hrs a day. So after paying a very inflated price for diesel I was on my way. Dave Sneed KI6SZE was going to respond but I told him to get some rest and if the search continued into Sunday day he could relieve David and me.
I arrived at Calistoga Police Depart and the decision was made to assemble at the intersection of Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail.
We all assembled,one ground team and one ATV team, were gathered, briefed, and sent on their way.
The ATV team started their search from Palisades Road and the Ground team started from Old Lawlely Toll Road.
David AE6W positioned himself on the Toll road in a location where he had good radio coverage of the search area. Radio coverage from the assembly area was poor, often nonexistent, for much of the search area. David could relay to me any information that the search directors needed and I could then relay back to him any questions or directions to the searchers.
When the search teams began their search the CHP helicopter had already located the lost women. How they found them is a very unique and neat idea.
The women both had cell phones. The helicopter had their cell phone numbers. When the helicopter got in the area they called the women and had them hold the cell phones with the display looking straight up. It only took the helicopter a few minutes to locate them using the light from the cell phones. (Keep that in mind for future needs).
The ATV team approached the hikers from the downhill side. When they got close they were able to communicate by yelling back and forth. They were unable to get to the hikers due to the steep terrain and a fast flowing creek.
After another 45 minutes the Ground team was able to make voice and then physical contact with the women and their dog.
While the hikers were waiting to be rescued their dog tangled with a Skunk. It is my understanding that the dog received a very large dose of Skunk perfume.
The Ground team and the women then had to climb up a very steep, heavily wooded area that was difficult to traverse. It was very difficult to determine if they were headed in the proper direction. As they got closer David moved his pickup to a better location where the ground team could see his headlights. A deputy also set off his siren a couple of times to assist them in moving in the correct direction.
Finely the ground team, women and a very perfumed dog, made it to the Toll Road and safety. One deputy delivered the women to their cars, the other deputy (a Sergeant) delivered the dog to one of the women’s car. I understand his vehicle was very odorous.
We were all released from duty at 0500 hours so I returned home and into a nice warm bed.
Ron Rogers W6BIS Search and Rescue Communications