California Couple and Dogs Rescued After Two-Week Mountain Ordeal

January 25, 2019 Updated: January 25, 2019

Members of the Special Enforcement Bureau tactical squad and sheriff’s deputies rescued two California campers and their dogs, trapped by snow for two weeks in the mountains near Los Angeles.

SEB normally specializes in high-risk tactical operations involving hostage situations or aerial assault, but on Jan. 23, the unit used a helicopter to rescue the stranded couple and their two dogs.

Tactical medics of the unit’s Emergency Services Detail took part in the rescue operation.

“Campers just rescued after snowed in their vehicle for 14 days, Alamo Mountain,n/w of Castaic,” wrote SEB in a tweet.

According to Fox11, the couple and their dogs were on a camping trip on the north side of Alamo Mountain near Frazier Mountain Park, about 75 miles north of Los Angeles, when they became stranded when their truck got stuck in snow. The couple was not named in the report.

“I think they were thinking the snow was going to melt a little quicker than it did and that’s why they were waiting it out,” Charles Miranda, a paramedic with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, told FOX11.

But after two weeks, the campers ran out of supplies.

“They had fuel for the stove to melt the water, but then they ran out of fuel,” Miranda told FOX11. “They were thirsty because they weren’t able to get water out of the snow.”

mountain region where rescue took place
The mountain region north of Los Angeles where the rescue operation took place on Jan. 23, 2019. (@SEBLASD/Twitter)

Miranda said the couple hiked for several miles to find a location where they had cell phone coverage, and called 911.

“We were able to locate their latitude and longitude,” he said.

A helicopter flew in SEB members and sheriff’s deputies, with the SEB posting several photos of the rescue on their Twitter feed.

special enforcement bureau rescue helicopter
A Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department helicopter is seen hovering above trees with members of a Special Enforcement Bureau team onboard in California on Jan. 23, 2019. (@SEBLASD/Twitter)

“We work and train as a team together and it makes rescues like this rather routine,” pilot Jim Wolfhope told FOX11.

view from rescue helicopter
A view from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department helicopter onto the snow-covered mountain region where campers and their dogs were rescued on Jan. 23, 2019. (@SEBLASD/Twitter)

The crew brought the couple and dogs to safety. While uninjured, the couple was reportedly tired, hungry, and dehydrated.

What Is the Special Enforcement Bureau?

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office calls the SEB unit “one of the preeminent tactical teams in the United States,” with a range of specialized operations ranging from homeland security and active shooter response, to tactical medics and air rescues (pdf).

SEB responds to about 200-300 tactical operations each year, including hostage situations and defusing bombs.

The Emergency Services Detail is one of the SEB’s five permanent units, with tactical paramedics and rescue recovery specialists.

“The primary goal of SEB is to save lives,” says LASO, adding that the unit’s members undertake intensive training to be able to operate “under extremely stressful and hostile conditions.”

The 5 C’s of Survival

Survival expert Dave Canterbury, author of “Survivability for the Common Man” and the New York Times bestseller “Bushcraft 101,” has lectured extensively on surviving emergencies.

Canterbury writes on his blog that “there are certain items that are a must for any survival or self-reliance scenario and these items should be considered first for any Pack, B.O.B. (Bug Out Bag) or Car/Truck type emergency kit.”

He calls these must-have items the “5 C’s of Survivability:”

  • Cutting Tool
  • Combustion Device
  • Cover
  • Container
  • Cordage

“With these 5 items, you can effectively accomplish all your basic survival needs for a short period adding in your self-reliance,” Canterbury notes.

Canterbury, who co-starred on the Discovery Channel’s reality television show Dual Survivor and the National Geographic’s survival series Dirty Rotten Survival, explains in a video how the five critical items can be used to maximize one’s chances of surviving in the wild.

Canterbury says that while it’s possible to reconstruct the five critical items using natural materials found in the wild, this takes both specialized knowledge, time, and energy.

“Understanding these five items and the comprehensive uses for them is the first step to understanding what it really takes to reduce the size and weight of your kit and effectively maintain true survivability,” he says.

“What is even more important to understand is the skill and ability to replace these items using natural material if and when needed as that is the true measure of your own skills.”

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM