SCV Search, Rescue Team completes challenging mountain training  

Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station Search and Rescue Team take part in completed their certification Saturday for the Mountain Rescue Association. Courtesy Tony Buttitta
Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station Search and Rescue Team take part in completed their certification Saturday for the Mountain Rescue Association. Courtesy Tony Buttitta
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Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Search and Rescue Team — highly trained volunteers called out to help lost hikers or when a vehicle goes off a cliff — passed their annual certification “with flying colors,” according to Tony Buttitta, the team’s captain. 

The team’s activities over the weekend at the Sierra Nevada’s Convict Lake included a hike from the lake’s parking lot to a peak where they had to find a beacon buried in snow. They then had to find and treat a patient, as well as safely escort the patient down the slope. 

Describing the team’s trek up the peak as “a quarter-mile straight up,” it wasn’t a long trip, but the conditions make it one of the hardest training exercises they do, Buttitta said.  

“It was a short hike, but very tough because we’re dragging in tons of equipment,” he said, including snowshoes, ice axes and shovels.  

The challenging conditions are set because the team is certified for the California region, so the team can and does get called to scenarios up and down the state.  

Earlier in the month, the team was at Mt. Baldy, helping the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, because the high wind and snow situation made it impossible for helicopters to get access, he said.  

The team’s activities over the weekend at the Sierra Nevada’s Convict Lake included a hike from the lake’s parking lot to a peak where they had to find a beacon buried in snow. They then had to find and treat a patient, as well as safely escort the patient down the slope.
The team’s activities over the weekend at the Sierra Nevada’s Convict Lake included a hike from the lake’s parking lot to a peak where they had to find a beacon buried in snow. They then had to find and treat a patient, as well as safely escort the patient down the slope.

Buttitta, a 24-year veteran, said it typically takes two to three years to join the team. Its members are also required to be trained as emergency medical technicians. The local station had 15 members complete the weekend training. 

So far this year, the team has been fortunate to not have as many callouts, but things change year to year, he said, with last year the team having received about double the calls it had by this point, ending with about 89 incidents in the year. 

Improving cellphone coverage has helped the situation with lost hikers, he said, and there have been fewer vehicle-over-the-side calls this year, but the team trains year-round to stay ready for emergencies. 

“There’s always things you can work on, and that’ll go into our monthly trainings, and we’ll all get better,” Buttitta said. “We’re always having new team members that have never done it before, so it’s always a great experience for them.”  

Anyone interested in joining the team can contact Tony Buttitta for more information at [email protected]. 
 

Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Search and Rescue Team — highly trained volunteers called out to help lost hikers or when a vehicle goes off a cliff — passed their annual certification “with flying colors,” according to Tony Buttitta, the team’s captain.
Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Search and Rescue Team — highly trained volunteers called out to help lost hikers or when a vehicle goes off a cliff — passed their annual certification “with flying colors,” according to Tony Buttitta, the team’s captain.

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