Glenn County Sheriff’s Office Hails Search and Rescue Success with Polaris RANGERs
Surrounded by vast agriculture land, rolling mountains, and beautiful national parks, Glenn County, California is a photographer’s dream and an outdoor adventurist’s playground. Beautiful landscapes, however, don’t come without challenges – something the Glenn County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team know all too well. During the past three years, under the vision and support of Sheriff Richard Warren, the volunteer program has grown from five members to 30 – becoming a critical asset that enhances the emergency services functions of the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office. With personnel growth also comes a need for additional equipment. Sgt. Jon Owens, head of the search and rescue team, knew he needed vehicles rugged enough to cover any terrain in any condition, all while ensuring safety is first and foremost – and the Polaris RANGER was the vehicle for the job.
Designed for Search and Rescue
In July 2020, the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office worked with MacGyver Solutions to add their first Polaris vehicles to their fleet – three RANGER Crew XP Northstar edition UTVs – and put them to work immediately. The new RANGERs are equipped with Polaris Ride Command, which features GPS mapping on a seven-inch touchscreen, along with Group Ride connectivity to plan, track and share ride routes enhancing terrain mapping and team communication. In fact, with the connectivity, team members can see where the other RANGER vehicles are at up to 3 miles away. Topographical mapping also shows the exact terrain that the team is encountering, ensuring they know what to expect. The GPS also comes in handy in showing what areas have already been covered, making search and rescues faster by ensuring the same area isn’t covered multiple times.
Additionally, maps can be downloaded after the fact, showcasing the exact routes the team traversed – the perfect feature for aiding in crime scene investigation. For instance, with the vast agriculture land that encompasses the county, the search and rescue team is often called to help with field searches for lost evidence. Doing so with the Polaris RANGER, not only allows the team to more easily cover ground, it provides a coverage map of the exact search that was done and where the evidence was recovered. A coverage map that, if necessary, can be downloaded for court purposes.
Agility on the most Rugged of Terrain
In August when a series of lightning strikes in the area ignited 37 different fires in what became known as the August Complex Fire, the search and rescue team, along with the RANGERs went to work helping with evacuations. Additionally, the team used the vehicles to routinely monitor the areas, ensuring everyone was out of the harm’s way. With their fully-enclosed cabs, off-road tires, narrow width, powerful engine, and integrated engine braking, the RANGERs made it possible to patrol through tight spots and over hazardous debris left by the wildfires, as well as in and around steep mountainous terrain with power, control and confidence.
More recently in January, the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team was called to a campground in Mendocino National Forest where three people were stranded in below-freezing temperatures. When the Emergency Dispatch Center lost contact with the stranded individuals and could not re-contact any of them due to the remote area and poor cellphone reception, the search and rescue team was activated immediately. Temperatures had already fallen to below freezing and were expected to fall even further throughout the night, and the mountain roads were especially hazardous with the lack of vegetation from the forest fires. Equipped with the fleet of RANGERs, the crew covered the snow-covered ground with ease, and with the help of the vehicle’s LED headlights and GPS mapping system recovered the individuals quickly and safely. The fully-enclosed cab complete with heat and seating for six helped get the stranded individuals, along with the search and rescue crew, out of the elements and warmed up immediately, while transporting the individuals back to their basecamp.
“The RANGERs have quickly become a critical element to our team, and we feel as if they were specifically designed for search and rescue,” said Sgt. Owens. “The ease of use, vehicle control and intuitive GPS system have made training a breeze. And the power, durability and agility across any terrain help ensure our search and rescue success.”