By Mary O’KEEFE
They are all around us, those individuals who go to their 9-to-5 job, living a relatively normal life. You will see them at the grocery store, school plays, football games and around town. They live like most us … until the pager goes off. Then they hike miles into a canyon during a rainstorm, climb icy mountains or board a helicopter to rappel over remote areas. Normal? Not so much.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. Montrose Search and Rescue Team has been a subject of several articles by the CVW in the past. Spotlighting these extraordinary search and rescue team members, not just from Crescenta Valley but throughout Los Angeles County, who volunteer their time to help so many is worth the ink; however, every once in a while these team members honor one of their own. And last Thursday they did just that.
For about the past four years Steve Goldsworthy has been a member of the Montrose Search and Rescue team. On Nov. 19 he was honored as the Search and Rescue Person of the Year in Los Angeles County.
“It was a total shock, very humbling,” Goldsworthy said. “I certainly never expected anything like it.”
Goldsworthy had been a Volunteer on Patrol with the LASD for many years prior to joining MSR. He said when in the field he does whatever the operation leader assigns him, but what he uniquely brings to the search and rescue table is knowledge of technology that combines a detective’s instinct with search and rescue.
“Depending on the call, I look at cellphone records. [I look to see] where the phone was last known to be, if the person called 911 … a lot of times [those who are lost] will call for help, but not call us. Maybe a friend or family member.”
When a person makes a 911 call his or her location is easier to pinpoint, he said.
MSR responded to the recent mudflows and stranded vehicles in October in the Lancaster area. Goldsworthy said the woman they were searching for had texted a family member she was lost, but had not contacted 911. This made finding her a little more difficult.
“We use the cellphone as a tool,” he said. “Sometimes it works really well and sometimes it doesn’t.”
One of Goldsworthy’s first experiences with MSR was a search for a victim in the Arroyo Seco Canyon.
“We knew the [hikers] were in trouble and hurt but the search came up empty. By using their cellphone [information] and social media I was able to track them down in a little over an hour later,” he said.
But what got Goldsworthy recognized by the LASD for the award was that he has shared his knowledge and expertise using social media and technology with other search and rescue teams throughout Los Angeles, as well as with LASD Air Rescue 5, and the Special Enforcement Bureau. That additional search tool has proved valuable. Shortly after Goldsworthy shared how he uses technology in a search and rescue situation, Air 5 members were called to respond to a search concerning a hiker who was lost in the snow.
“Air 5 used that technology to find the hiker,” Goldsworthy said. However, due to weather conditions, they could not perform the rescue. Three MSR team members went into the field where they eventually found the lost hiker (at right).
Goldsworthy said he feels lucky to be working with the professionals in LASD search and rescue and Air Rescue 5. He added that the rewards of helping others far outweigh the sore muscles from hiking through the Angeles National Forest or the numerous training exercises the team completes.
And he loves what he does.
“You just don’t know what your day is going to entail. An hour from now I could be hovering over a canyon,” he said.
He cited an example of one of the call-outs when two boys and their father were missing in Devils Canyon. MSR team members began the search at 9 p.m. and found the father at 1 a.m. and the boys at 5 a.m. It was about nine hours of hiking through poison oak and rocky trails but in the end the hikers were found and Air 5 transported them to safety.
Goldsworthy praised the team he works with and members of the Air 5 flight crew.
At the Nov. 19 ceremony, LASD Sheriff Jim McDonnell presented the award to Goldsworthy and to Dannie Hensley who was recognized for 50 years of service.
“I can’t really express how shocked I was and how undeserving I felt. I was overwhelmed by the ceremony,” Goldsworthy said.
MSR is always looking for adventurous, dedicated individuals who like the outdoors and helping others. For information on MSR, contact the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station at (818) 248-3464.