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Mild Winter Poses Different Challenges For SAR

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue has been less busy this early winter than in recent years. But Sgt. Jason Wall warns the mild weather can be deceptive, "These types of winters can be the most dangerous. It’s very easy to become accustomed to this warmer weather. We maybe don’t grab that extra jacket, or the hat or the gloves."

He tells KBND News, "Keep in mind, we still live in the mountains; this is still a mountain town. Weather can move in at the drop of a hat. And I know people who have lived here for three days or 30 years, they know this - but it just bears to be repeated: If you’re going in the backcountry, go prepared." That preparation should be for the worst conditions, not the best, "It happened to me not too long ago. I decided to wear only a fleece, and I got caught in some weather; albeit not terrible weather. But I was very uncomfortable for a few hours."

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Sgt. Wall says you can't count on passersby to help, if you get stranded. "Let people know where you’re going. Take a fully charged cell phone; take a charger with you, maybe some snacks that might get you through if you run out of gas or if you have a catastrophic failure of your vehicle and you need to walk. There are a lot of people out on the roads these days, but you would be surprised. You drive the highway up to Mt. Bachelor, or the backside of Mt. Bachelor, parts of the highway that are still open, you can find yourself up there for a few hours before someone drives by." He adds, "Because there hasn’t been an excessive amount of snow, we don’t have the plow drivers moving through those corridors on a regular basis. Whereas, a heavy year, you might see two or three plows go through, or a sander or someone who’s de-icing. With this mild weather, it may not be the case."

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