The search was uneventful, but the scenery was beautiful.
Clifford W. Ashley: The Ashley Book of Knots
The phone rings at 4:30 AM. Or did it?
This time is reserved for John, Kira knows that and she has to scratch my head or sing me songs to warm me up to opening my eyes. Kira’s in Santa Cruz until Friday, so there’s no one to warm me up this morning. My phone is down the ladder. I’m up the ladder. I have Not been vigilant in keeping the room spick and span. I’m aware that I’m about to learn a very good lesson with respect to clutter and cleanliness. Belt buckles are sharp and step ladders are sturdy. I get to satans glowing noise machine in time to see a 510 number just before it goes black. Now I’m curious and instinctively double tap the call button to redial. The phone is locked and I angrily smash the key pad to achieve normalcy, then repeat my double-tap forgetting that I’m about to interrupt someone at 4:30 AM. I’m a jerk.
The voice on the other end answers me by name before I say anything and I answer questions about my employment before understanding why and who I’m talking to. The engine begins to warm up and my cognitive abilities begin to sharpen (albit far from sharp). I repeat a couple of actions I’m to preform before the voice asks if I’m writing anything down. I fumble for something flat and something pointy and then proceed to request the information again, hang up, and run into the wall face first.
Now awake, I slip on my new blue pants, a toxic-orange shirt, and blue ball cap. Unaware of my assigned task beyond transporting myself down the hill, I collect my helmet & headlamp, GPS, first aid kit, jacket, and compass. As it turns out, all I needed was a ClifBar, fortunately I had two. I then activate my SAR-Scooter and race down the hill to meet the unknown 5 minutes away in Berkeley. My navigation is confirmed accurate by 10 police officers standing around and a SAR dog handler preparing her pal.
I’m not at an assisted living facility in Berkeley and I’m feeling good. Berkeley PD size me up based on, what I assume to be, the size of my mustache. They greet me as the SAR boss-man. I respond,
“My team should be here shortly, anyone else here?”
“Yes. Lt. ____ from your team with her K-9”
“Great. She’s the best at what she does.”
Fearing I may be found out for a rookie, I make small talk and then look busy fiddling with my scooter and pack. My scheme is found out once the real SAR Boss-man shows up. I am relieved.
We are giving a quick rundown on the situation, background, and our task. The story goes, an 86 y/o woman with dementia had escaped her maximum security senior facility sometime between an eight o’clock dinner and now, 5:00 AM. Holding a flier complete with a terrible DMV photograph and general description we set out. The objective of the search this time around was a little more direct in that based on the subjects known last point of contact and some personal effects, we could set our k-9 team to the task of sniffing her out.
We set out following the highly trained 2-year old around Berkeley. About an hour in, with several miles under out belt, we consider the mileage one could achieve with an eight-hour handicap and ask our lead the probability of success at this rate. She winks at us, spins in a circle, and sits down. It was clear, to some, we’d be hard pressed to make any more effort useful. Fortunately, our hired driver was on the block with us running interference when we need to zig-zag across the boulevard. We signaled and piled into the truck, making our way back to ‘Command.’ Returning to the group we reconnoitered our findings and did one last evaluation of the building for information or signs. Nada.
As the day begins, our team debriefs and demobilizes. In all my haste I hadn’t bothered to lawfully secure parking and was relieved to find my scooter infraction free. I am up the hill and back in bed before any of the team is to the 580. I fall back to sleep promising myself to clean the clutter and prepare my ‘SAR-ready pack.’
The subject was found healthy at 9:30 AM in North Oakland and I woke up at 2 PM to do as promised.