Search and rescue fatality in Nevada a scenario volunteers train to avoid

Search and rescue fatality in Nevada a scenario volunteers train to avoid »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - A police officer in Nevada who was trying to save a stranded hiker fell to his death this week, one of the scenarios rescuers train to avoid.

Lane County Search and Rescue volunteers go through more than 100 hours of training before they ever head out on a mission.

Volunteers continue to update their training every year.

In 2012, nearly 250 volunteers participated in more than 3,500 hours of search and rescue mission.

John Miller, who coordinates search and rescue for the Lane County Sheriff, said training is key.

"They're trained on safety," he said. "Safety is one of the things we pound into them day after day after day."

The experienced volunteers know how to handle tough terrain, but he said accidents like what happened to Officer David Vanbuskirk in Las Vegas can happen.

Miller said the public can help lower the risk for volunteers by practicing outdoor safety themselves.

"People can take care of themselves and not put search and rescue personnel in jeopardy trying to rescue them later on," he said.

Rescuers work diligently to help a victim in distress, but not at the expense of safety.

"We take care of ourselves and our volunteers first, and our victim would be second," Miller said.

Vanbuskirk died in a mishap involving a helicopter. The local sheriff's helicopter is not in operation due to budget constraints.