The day starts with a home cooked meal at the SAR Headquarters followed with a briefing. With all the rain from overnight and yesterday made for a skating rink everywhere. Loading gear I found that I don’t bounce as well as I used to. They were able to come up with an ice rescue sled so I could set up my office on it and get back into the area that I was the first day. Ice has been deteriorating with the warm temp and rain. The 22 mile ice road trip is now like a flooded road with water as deep as 6″ and took much longer to get out to search site. Today is the 17th day and it is taking a toll on the SAR team and volunteers. Many have been taking off of work with some getting sick I hear.
I set up my gear on a device that is normally used in thin ice rescues. We have one on our team back home and have recently set that one up for this type of search but have not had the chance to try it out yet. We were lucky to have the local fire department loan us theirs for the day making it much safer to get back into the area of interest.
I have not posted a lot of details out of respect for the families and all involved. But the word is out and feel I can give a bit more. We did locate three possible targets on day one. They have put drop cameras to verify the two targets. Now what you may not understand is the difficulties that they are challenged with. This river has created two to four feet of slush under the ice. I have made over a 100 dives under the ice in lakes and rivers and have never encountered this. This slush makes it difficult to work with drop cameras and the drag bar method that they are using. These people run fish nets under the ice and are accustomed to working with lines and such under the ice. I have learned a great deal from all of this. I’m confident that they will be successful in their mission. You have to understand that this has to be one the toughest type of recovery operation one could encounter.
The support I have received from everyone here and back home is exactly why I keep doing this. The Alaska State Troopers have graciously allowed me to stay longer by pushing back my flight so I can see this through.