Daily Archives: February 20, 2019

OES Notepad: Winter Skills 2019

By: Fred Mullen

Area Responders Attend SAR Training 

   There is an old saying, probably from the military, “if it ain’t rainin’, it ain’t trainin”.  It refers to our need to be ready to respond in any weather condition.  SAR missions are required any time of the year.  So, we take a weekend in February each year for our  Winter Skills exercise.

    This past Saturday, twenty-six SAR volunteers  participated in this year’s training.  We concentrated on the strategic element know as Patrol and Confinement.  This strategy has three main concentrations: prevent the missing person from traveling further away from his last know point (LKP); detect clues; and, cause the missing person to move in a direction you want them to move.   Tactics included are: lookouts from bluff lines and scenic points; road and trail patrol; light and sound attraction; placing signs on trails; and, others.  We were in the White Rock Mountain area with six targets placed along White Rock Mountain Road and Bliss Ridge Road.  The targets included a camp fire, simulated crashed ultra-light aircraft, pickup truck with a hunter who wandered away from it,  ATV, person yelling for help, and an emergency flare.

     According to FC SAR Team Training Officer Max Miller, “The players did a really great job.  All of the targets were located within about 3 hours.”   Probably the hardest to locate was the person calling for help.  He was simulating a child’s voice and was several yards off the road.  In order to detect him, Patrol units had to stop their vehicles every few minutes, turn off the engine, yell ‘Marco’ and listen for the ‘Polo’ return.  If nothing was heard, they move up the road a bit and try again.

    The training started with a refresher on the tactics used, some practice with map and compass, an orientation to using binoculars and spotting scopes.  After the field work, the Pleasant View FD and SAR Team members provided the group with a feast of home made stew and chili. 

     Attending the exercise were Responders from the Christian Aid Miniseries SAR Team 10 located at Hunt, Crawford Fire District 3 (Locke Station), Franklin County SAR Team,  Johnson County SAR Team, Pleasant View FD, Watalula FD.  Special thanks to the Pleasant View FD for hosting the event at their Fern Fire Station.  Also, thanks to the United States Forest Service and the Concessionaire at White Rock Mountain for their cooperation.

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OES Notepad

By: Fred Mullen


       We had a really good class this past Saturday.  Hazmat instructors Justin Hill from Louisiana  and John Hejl from  North Dakota were in Ozark to present 8 hours of training on Rail Car Flammable Liquids Incidents. Topics covered included a brief recent history of rail incidents involving the same kind of chemicals including crude oil, ethanol, etc  that are currently carried through Franklin County.  Pre-planning for this kind of incident was encouraged with an emphasis on multi-agency awareness and cooperation including working closely with Union Pacific Railroad.  Chip Heard, Arkansas Hazardous Materials Manager for Union Pacific, attended the class and made many helpful comments regarding the resources they can provide to us in event of an accident.

Franklin County Responders J.D. Gray, Frank Theising, and Calvin Weatherly look on as instructor Justin Hill, from Baton Rouge LA Fire Department, demonstrates rail tanker car safety features. Saturday’s class was provided by grant funding. (photo by Melissa Francis)

        Multi-agency, multi-discipline training for these events is so important because there will likely need to be road/street closures, evacuation or shelter in place orders given, fire and medical services provided.  There will be a lot of moving parts for the first 20 to 30 minutes of the incident and it will take all  kinds of emergency responders to make it happen.

       The class included some demonstration of how the various valves, switches, etc work on tanker cars (see related photo).  Class attendee, Chris Foreman, Arkansas  Department  of Emergency Management Hazmat Program Manager, complemented us on bring this quality of training to our Responders and also spoke highly of the training facility at Arkansas Tech’s Ozark Campus.  Thirty-four Responders, twenty-one from Franklin County, and five other counties including local government, State of Arkansas and Federal Agencies attended the class. 

The training was provided by a grant from the Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo, Colorado. 


Sat Feb 16 at 0800 hrs. SAR Winter Skills Weekend–This is an inter-agency (LEOs, EMS, Fire, SAR, Dispatchers, etc.)  Search and Rescue Training. The Staging are will be at the PV Fire Station in Fern.  There will be a short refresher class on patrol, lookout and attraction tactics, and, the rest of the day will be field work looking for lost persons.  Any Franklin County or area Responder is invited to attend.  There are a few things you need to bring, please call me if you want to attend–479-209-0818.

Thu Feb 28 at 18:30 hrs Franklin County Homeland Security Planning Exercise at Arkansas Tech Student Union. This year’s exercise is named ‘Docs for Dollars’. It is about assessing damage due to an incident (severe weather, hazardous materials, etc) and providing ADEM and FEMA with the correct  documentation so we can  receive the highest reimbursement we are entitled.  All local emergency response agencies along with city clerks, local utility, road/street, schools, etc need to send their ‘paperwork person’.  Mayors, Council Members, and Quorum County members are encouraged to attend. For more info, give me a call at 479-209-0818

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