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Multiple Calls for Search and Rescue happen in a short period.

On 06/01/2024, the Skamania County Communications Center received four search and rescue related calls for service within a two-and-a-half-hour period.

First, a concerned son reported his father overdue from a trip into the Indian Heaven Wilderness area, within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It was reported the overdue subject was a skilled and prepared outdoors person but did not relay their specific destination or travel route. It was later determined there was a miscommunication and the overdue subject arrived home the next day.

Second, less than an hour later, a hiker reported being lost while descending Archer Mountain, near Skamania. Utilizing the hiker’s G.P.S. coordinates from her 911 call, a Skamania County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Coordinator was able to provide her directions back to her vehicle.

Third, just over an hour later, a hiker called from the Siouxon trail area advising he was lost with his seven-year-old child and dog. The hiker was able to provide coordinates of his location and, with the assistance of a Search and Rescue Coordinator, re-located the trail. However, the hiker did not return home, and his family reported him as overdue. Based on the hiker’s level of preparedness and time of evening, a search was planned for the early morning the following day. On 06/02/2024, a Search and Rescue Coordinator was once again assigned to the mission and Skamania County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team volunteers were dispatched to respond. The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team deployed and, after a three hour search, the hiking party was located and safely returned to their vehicle.

Lastly, 17 minutes after the Siouxon trail call was received, the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center received another call for rescue assistance on the Forest Service 99 Road. The caller reported their vehicle was stuck in the snow and were requesting assistance, although the road is still closed by the Forest Service due to snow levels. Communications Officers were able to connect the caller with a local tow company to assist them.

The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office wants to utilize this time to increase awareness of preparedness, as well as the significant burden placed on our agency and volunteers for these calls for service. Please remember the following:

  1. Do not rely on cell service or your phone for mapping assistance. Although your phone can be a useful tool, many areas within Skamania County are without reliable cell service and phones have limited battery life. Always provide a detailed location of your destination and travel route to a family member or friend, along with a defined timeline of your expected return.
  2. Always be prepared and know your limitations. You should always have a way to start a fire, extra clothing, a printed map, compass, and extra water.
  3. Adhere to closed road signage and do not proceed through snow covered roads. There are still numerous roads and trails covered with snow within the Gifford Pinchot.

We want you all to enjoy our county safely and responsibly as we enter this busy season!