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Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team train for cliff rescues year-round

Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue get several calls of vehicles going over cliffs a year, however, they are highly-trained for these situations.

“We have some specialized vehicles that have hydraulics on them so we can run up to 800 feet of rope continuously to raise a stretcher up the hill,” said Nelson Trichler. “That takes some practice.”

Nelson Trichler is an incident commander for the Santa Barbara Search and Rescue team. He says the team trains at least once every three months, specifically for this type of rescue.

“A lot of work goes into it,” said Trichler. “Mainly in the preplanning and the training so we can work together on rope system and various mechanical tools that we use in order to get people out of the vehicles and up to the side of the mountain.”

This Search and Rescue team is one of the most active in California. They respond to nearly a dozen calls a year for vehicles over the sides of cliffs.

“That can be on Highway 154, Gibraltar Road, Harris Grade, or 166,” said Trichler.

Trichler says the number one cause for these crashes is distracted drivers. While you never know when a disaster like this might happen, having your car prepared for the worst might be the difference between life and death.

“Do you have food, some extra water, a flashlight, and extra battery for your cell phone, extra blankets, and extra clothes?” said Trichler.

Even before all that, Search and Rescue teams know the most important factor is the will to survive.

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