Archive for the ‘Search and Rescue’ Category



“Murder on the Horizon,” the third book in my Search and Rescue Mystery Series featuring Gracie Kinkaid, releases August 4.

“Murder on the Horizon” as well as the first two books in the series, “Zero-Degree Murder” and “Murder Off the Beaten Path,” are available at select Barnes and Noble bookstores, and local bookstores and libraries. (If they don’t have a copy, they can order it for you.) Both soft cover and e-versions are also available at http://www.barnesandnoble.com and http://www.amazon.com.

Happy reading!


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Hoist Operations

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

— Joseph Campbell

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My heart, thoughts and prayers are with the people of Nepal and India

after Saturday’s devastating earthquake.

And with the rescuers in Kathmandu, the outlying areas

and on Mt. Everest.

And with the grieving.


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This is a reprint of an article written by Chris Laursen, Grand County (Colorado) Search and Rescue, and published in the Sky-High News (Winter Park, Granby and Grand County areas of Colorado). 

Shorts and tank tops while hiking around Columbine Lake in summer are fine … until the sun goes down or a sudden hailstorm hits. During my six years as a volunteer with Grand County Search & Rescue, I have lost count of the number of missions where the subject was ill prepared for the weather.

Upon reaching the subject, the usual response is, “I was just out for a day hike.”

It does not take much, a sprained ankle, broken tibia, an unexpected rain or snowstorm, to turn “just a day hike” into a life-threatening emergency. If this happens late in the afternoon or far in the backcountry, the time it takes to notify GCSAR, mobilize and reach the subject could mean nightfall and a 30-degree or more drop in temperature.

When GCSAR responds to a mission, we always assume we will be out for at least 24 hours, regardless of how simple or short the mission is expected to be, because we have come to expect the unexpected. We recommend that anyone who ventures into the backcountry assume the same.

While our rescue packs include many mission-specific items that are not necessary for a simple day trip in the backcountry (ropes, anchors, webbing, harnesses, etc.), we all carry what is known as the Ten Essentials, and wear appropriate clothing. Stay warm, stay dry, and stay alive.

Regarding clothing, the simple rule to remember is “Cotton Kills.” Always wear wool or synthetics when in the backcountry. Wool socks will provide a degree of insulation even when wet. Cotton socks, hoodies, etc. will suck heat from your body. A typical fatality on Colorado 14-ers is the hiker in a cotton hoodie that gets caught in a summer thunderstorm and dies of hypothermia.

The Ten Essentials listed below should be considered the minimum. Additional items should be considered based on the terrain, time of year, and length of the planned trip.


1. Field pack capable of carrying all your personal gear.

2. Map and compass. Cell phones and GPS devices can be useful, but should not be depended upon.

3. Whistle, sunglasses and sunscreen.

4. Extra clothing – spare socks, wool hat, fleece, water repellent windbreaker, gloves.

5. Flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries.

6. Fire starting kit.

7. Knife or Leatherman type tool.

8. Food (2,000 calories), one liter of water plus purification tablets or filter.

9. Emergency shelter (such as a plastic tarp and cord or bivy sack).

10. Personal first aid kit.

All of the above can be obtained at any good outdoor store and results in about a 10-pound pack.

One summer afternoon we were called out on a mission to assist an injured hiker. Three women from out of state were hiking near Columbine Lake when one fell, incurring a fractured lower leg. One of the women ran down the trail until she could get a cell phone signal to call 9-1-1. When we arrived, the sun had set and the temperature was plummeting. They were huddled together in shorts and tank tops, shivering from the cold. We gave them our spare fleeces and hats, packaged the injured hiker into a Life Blanket and litter, and carried her out in the dark to the trailhead and a waiting ambulance.

This was a successful mission with a happy ending. They do not all end that way. If she had been hiking alone with no one to go for help would she have survived the night? Maybe, if it didn’t rain.

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Just finished and submitted to my editor the final version of “Murder on the Horizon,” the latest installment in the Gracie Kinkaid Search and Rescue mystery series. Still have some changes due from the copy editor and proofreader, but for all intents and purposes, it’s finished! Whew!!

Look for it in bookstores on August 4, 2015. Available now for presale in both softcover and Kindle and Nook versions at http://www.amazon.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com.



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“Zero-Degree Murder” and “Murder Off the Beaten Path,” the first two books of my search and rescue mystery series featuring Gracie Kinkaid were released in 2014. “Murder on the Horizon” releases in August 2015.

What makes me qualified to write a book about a woman in Search and Rescue?

First, I’m a woman.


Second, I was a very active member on a very busy search and rescue team for a dozen years, participating in hundreds of search and rescue missions and trainings, including technical ropes rescues, helicopter insertions and evacuations, and winter survival. I hold a California State certification in Tracking.

When I decided to try my hand at fiction and was trying to decide what to write about, I followed that old adage: “write what you know.” And since I love to read mysteries, mysteries about Search and Rescue seemed a perfect fit.

Happy reading!

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I’m re-posting this blog because it’s such an important topic, especially when much of the country is experiencing record cold temperatures.

Whether you’re lost in the wild or stranded in your car in a blizzard, remembering the “Rule of 3’s” could possibly save your life.

As I stated in my blog about the Rule of P’s, the 1st and more important rule to survival is keeping a positive mental attitude.

Here’s the Rule of 3’s:

A person can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.

In other words, if you find yourself in a survival situation, prioritize. Finding shelter and/or staying warm and dry should be your top priority. Finding something to eat should be the last thing on your mind. If you’re already in your car, stay there! If you’re in the woods, find some kind of shelter whether it be in the bowl beneath the spreading branches of a tree or even a coverlet of fallen leaves or pine needles.

“So That Others May Live.”

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