Task force formed to improve search efforts
February 11, 2007
Search and rescue teams from Southern Oregon and Northern California met Thursday for the first time in an attempt to improve communication and share resources for future missions.
The California/Oregon Regional Search and Rescue Task Force was formed in response to the James Kim tragedy.
The Kims, of San Francisco, became lost on their way home from a Thanksgiving trip and took a wrong turn Nov. 25 on a backcountry route through the Siskiyou National Forest known as Bear Camp Road. James Kim died of exposure trying to hike out. Kati Kim and their daughters were rescued.
Agencies involved in the rescue operation were criticized for not sharing information because of initial confusion over which agency was in charge.
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters hopes the task force will lead to improved communication during large-scale searches. It is chaired by Jackson County search and rescue manager Lt. Pat Rowland.
The group includes sheriff’s departments from Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Klamath, Del Norte, Curry, Siskiyou and Coos counties. In addition, officials from the Oregon State Police, Civil Air Patrol, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, Carson Helicopters, Brim Aviation, the Crater Lake National Park Service and the American Red Cross will attend the meetings.
One benefit Winters foresees is that the task force will spread the costs of large searches over the many agencies involved, lessening the burden on cash-strapped departments such as the Josephine County Sheriff’s Department.
The next meeting will be held in Josephine County in March, Winters said.