Press Release 04.29.14
Local Mountain Rescue Unit Recaps 2013
BREMERTON, WA - Olympic Mountain Rescue (OMR) had a big year in 2013, including an unusually high number of missions, several volunteers recognized for their service, and a grant for rigging training.
The unit was called out to 29 missions in 2013, which included searches in the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Park.
"We may be based in Bremerton, but we're ready to go anywhere, anytime," said Steve Leslie, OMR chairman. "Our missions last year ranged from searching for someone with dementia in Bremerton to assisting with a technical rigging rescue on Mount Rainier."
One of those missions involved a rescue on the south peak of The Brothers in the Olympics in July 2013. As a result, OMR members Kevin Swem and John Kaster recently were awarded the Jim Gideon Volunteer of the Year Award by Kitsap County Sheriff's Department and Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management. The duo was recognized for their efforts to rescue the subject who had a broken leg and hand. Another member, Kevin Koski, was named a 2013 West Sound Hero by the American Red Cross for his rescue efforts the past few years, including rescues on Mount Rainier and Mount Baker.
Every year differs in how many missions the unit goes on, but the team is constantly training so it can be ready for any situation.
To help with training costs in 2013, the unit received a $3,900 grant from the Puget Sound Energy Foundation to pursue more in-depth training for its members in rescue rigging techniques.
While OMR regularly practices its rescue rigging, the unit sends two members to Canada annually to attend a weeklong workshop that covers the theories and physics of rescue rigging on a more intense level, both in the classroom and in the field. The group works with the British Columbia-based BaseCamp Innovations, owned and operated by Kirk Mauthner.
"We've been sending members of the unit to Kirk for several decades," Leslie said. "Since we're an all-volunteer organization and rely heavily on donations, in today's economy, we're grateful that Puget Sound Energy Foundation granted us this funding.
"The training that members receive is invaluable and even more so when they bring back what they've learned and apply it during our rigging trainings throughout the year," Leslie said. "The dialogue it creates within the unit helps the team's cohesiveness, upholding our 'beehive mentality' when it comes to working together, both in training and on missions."
Rescue rigging is needed when someone has fallen into a ravine or over an edge and cannot get themselves out safely, nor can a rescuer reach the person on their own without the use of a safety system, which includes industrial strength ropes, harnesses, pulleys, carabiners and camming devices.
For more information, contact Steve Leslie at 360-440-8353.
About OMR: Olympic Mountain Rescue is a 501c3 nonprofit volunteer organization that is dedicated to saving lives through rescue and mountain safety education. OMR is one of seven Mountain Rescue Association units operating in Washington State. Collectively, OMR members have hundreds of years of mountaineering experience in the Olympics.
The unit specializes in search and rescue operations in rugged wilderness areas involving high angle rock, snow and ice. Members also provide technical expertise for search and rescue on rivers, canyons, heavy timber, brush and aircraft searches. The unit works on the Olympic Peninsula, but also operates in conjunction with other Washington state rescue units along the Cascades Mountains, from Mt. St. Helens to Mt. Baker.
About PSE Foundation: The mission of the foundation to energize the communities we serve. We work to be in tune with local needs and priorities and are committed to investing wisely in programs that deliver meaningful, measurable and long-lasting results for generations to come. We are particularly interested in promoting public safety and emergency preparedness. We face threats from wind, floods, snow, earthquakes, forest fires, and more a[euro]" we want our community members to know how to be safe and prepared when facing these natural disasters.
The Puget Sound Energy Foundation was created in 2006 with a $15 million endowment. It also received a $5 million investor contribution in 2009 upon completion of our merger with Puget Holdings LLC. None of the foundation's grants will come from Puget Sound Energy's utility customers. Annually the Foundation is required to distribute five percent of the preceding year's average assets in charitable distributions.
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