Clackamas sheriff: Search, rescue must be professionalized
If you take a fall on Mount Hood, odds are a team from Portland Mountain Rescue will be the first on the scene. The elite group has been performing high-risk rescues on Oregon's tallest and most-climbed mountain for decades. But the Clackamas County Sheriff's new plan, first reported by the Oregonian, could see that all changing.
Sheriff Craig Roberts came on OPB's "Think Out Loud" to defend his decision, the first time he has spoken publicly since the controversial plan was announced.
The Clackamas County Sheriff's department plans to end their relationship with a number of search-and-rescue organizations that currently operate within their jurisdiction, including Portland Mountain Rescue. Instead, Sheriff Roberts plans to form a new search-and-rescue team from scratch, one that will handle both extreme alpine rescues and more routine searches for people lost or injured in the forests surrounding Clackamas.
"I want to raise the bar, my goal is to create a standard across the board," Roberts said. Any delay in rescue can turn into a life-or-death situation, whether high on the mountain or in the woods, "We had 130 search and rescue missions, and ten of those were on Mount Hood. " It's the rescues that aren't on the mountain that worry him the most.
Roberts' decision comes after a court found the sheriff's office at fault for the 2017 death of a climber. When Portland Mountain Rescue arrived on the scene, climber John Thornton Jenkins was responsive, though he looked severely bruised. But a series of bungled 911 calls led to delays in the helicopter dispatch. Jenkins' heart stopped beating as he was airlifted into the helicopter.
Click here to read the rest of the story by OPB, a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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