Fresno County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team brushes up on life-saving skills

Local News

While many are hitting the slopes this weekend thanks to all the fresh powder brought by recent storms, it could also be very dangerous.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team brushed up on skills for possible snow-related emergencies Saturday morning near Huntington Lake.

With more snowfall this season than previous years, the search and rescue team says building snow shelters is one of the many survival techniques that they’re learning to help them be better prepared to save lives.

It’s a call they never want to get, but they know every winter it’s possible, and this year, they’ve already had several calls.

“Some of them actually are attributed to tree mortality. Right now there’s millions of dead trees up in the Sierras, add this extra weight of the snow and trees falling it’s a very big possibility of someone getting injured,” says Sgt. Scott Weishaar, with the sheriff’s office search and rescue team.

This weekend, deputies along with volunteers took part in several training exercises in the cold winter environment to help them be better prepared to save lives.

From practicing searching through an avalanche for victims, to building ice caves for shelter, deputies say they generally search throughout the night.

“The snow cave is actually warmer than staying out in a tent,” explains a volunteer.

They also practiced snowmobile rescues, as well as the use of drones. Their volunteer air squadron says a spotlight they use shines as bright as a football field, and their other drone is used for it’s loud speaker.

As much fun as the tasks may seem, the search and rescue team does not recommend just anyone dig a cave because they say it can be extremely dangerous.

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