Clark County, Life Link III Hold Joint Training Exercise to Locate ‘Missing’ Hunter

Clark County Mounted Search and Rescue photo. Used with permission.

Mounted Rescue Team a Useful Tool for County

(OnFocus) Local rescue groups performed a successful joint training exercise this week in preparation for the upcoming hunting season.

The Clark County Mounted Search and Rescue, Thorp Fire & EMS, and Life Link III worked collaboratively to respond to a planned scenario of an injured hunter lost in the woods.

“She called 911 and said she had a broken — click, the phone went dead, and that’s all we know,” said Sgt. Marty Schwantes, Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Clark County Mounted Search and Rescue photo.

Life Link III flew over the general area where the “lost” hunter, a volunteer, was known to be located. Because there was an injury, Thorp Fire & EMS was contacted and established an incident command. Life Link III communicated the hunter’s location with EMS, who relayed it onto the Mounted Search and Rescue team to pinpoint.

Once found, the hunter’s injuries were assessed and radioed back to EMS, who were then escorted to the area to perform treatment and transport the hunter out of the woods.

Rob Rinehart photo

Schwantes said the purpose of the exercise was for three completely different entities to practice working together smoothly during a call, a feat which was accomplished well during the training.

When available, Life Link III helps the department in missing person cases by providing aerial coverage.

“They’ve been an amazing, amazing partner in how fast they can get on the scene and they can give us that view from much higher up,” he said. “We have a really good working relationship with them.”

During the training, Life Link III discussed safety around the aircraft and its capabilities. The use of the helicopter was also a test to see how the horses would react to a low-flying aircraft — all went well.

Clark County Mounted Search and Rescue, supervised by the Patrol Division and consisting of 11 skilled volunteer members with various backgrounds, has trained to locate lost subjects via grid searches.

“Many advantages to doing search and rescue from horseback have been discovered throughout training exercises,” said Rob Rinehart, member. “The ability to cover an area more quickly and from a better point of view has proven to be beneficial.”

The team trains once a month and members use their own horses and equipment. They respond only to incidents that are not criminal in nature or pose a firearm threat, in particular missing person cases.

In one training scenario in the woods, riders noticed their horses were moving their ears and acting up. The riders glanced around and spotted the subject they were supposed to find, who had hidden himself well and would not have been spotted by human senses alone.

Last fall, the Mounted rescue team proved useful when a hunter went missing in the Town of Mentor. His location was found within minutes by Life Link III. A responder on ATV and the riders were then guided to the location until the ATV was unable to go any further. The horses, however, were able to navigate the terrain to reach the hunter and guide him to safety.

Used in collaboration with other responders, the Mounted Search and Rescue Team has proven to be a useful extra tool for the county.

“Overall, the use of these resources in conjunction with each other will improve the likeliness of a search and rescue situation ending with a positive result,” Rinehart said.

Kaylin S
Author: Kaylin S

Kaylin Speth is a Marshfield native with a bachelor's degree in English from UW-Green Bay. She enjoys highlighting the many great things happening in the community and bringing to life the untold stories. Email the team at [email protected]