During a week of heavy training and drills, San Bernardino County Fire has spent a number of days in the Tri-Community.
Multiple agencies gathered at Station 305 in Oak Hills for a ‘Bump and Run’ drill, an annual Wildfire Preparation Exercise sponsored by the San Bernardino County Training Association, to be carried out in Phelan and Baldy Mesa. Bump and Run is a tactic by which resources typically move ahead of the fire front in the spotting zone to extinguish spot fires and hot spots, and to defend as many structures as possible.
During the course of the drills, firefighters worked from the scenario of a reported wildfire near I-15, moving west. Deploying units to homes in the area of Wildemere south of Phelan Road, firefighters practiced structure defense and spoke with residents about defensible space. As the simulated burn jumped the fire line, crews practiced ‘Going Direct,” laying hose along the edge of the burn and creating a wet line. SBCo Fire PIO and Engineer Jeff Allen explained hand crews and dozers can then come in behind and support that line.
Firefighters also practiced protecting themselves in the event that they are overrun by fire. Each crew member carries a personal shelter in his or her web gear, which can be deployed in an emergency and possibly save the firefighter’s life.
On Friday, May 27, SBCo Fire recruit Tower 7 participated in the department’s Low Angle Rope Rescue operation (LARRO). Forty-eight men and women, the largest class of recruits in the program’s history, assembled in the gravel parking lot at Mnt. Top Café for drills and then a practice rescue. The LARRO techniques are employed when an injured person has to be transported up a steep incline, and helicopter rescue is contraindicated.
For the purposes of the drill, I was given the opportunity to play the “victim.” After assessing my “injuries,” the crew helped me into the basket, or litter, and ran a series of straps back and forth across me, creating a secure web. Using climbing harnesses and hardware, rescuers then tied themselves and the basket to ropes on belay at the top of the incline. Ideally, two people on each side of the basket assist it up the hill. When the victim gets to the top of the hill, rescuers lift the basket up and over the edge, to a waiting ambulance or air transport. Allen explained the technique is taught as one of six classes in Urban Search and Rescue (S & R). Other courses include Swift Water Rescue. The most common use of LARRO in the Wrightwood area involves traffic collisions and roll-overs down steep embankments along the roadside. Oak Hills Station houses Urban S & R for County Fire.
County Fire Stations 14 in Wrightwood and 10 in Phelan are enjoying recent upgrades. iPad technology was installed on the engines at both stations in March. These iPads function as the Mobile Data Computers (MDC) for County Fire apparatus located in the City of Hesperia and the communities of Lucerne Valley, Phelan, and Wrightwood. Until recently these areas of County Fire relied on a paper map books or a mapping application used on a personally owned smart phone. Battalion Chief Jeff Birchfield was instrumental in bringing the technology to the High Desert. With it, fire crews have exact emergency locations on interactive maps in the engines, along with tracking of other responding units and agencies.
Station 10 got a new fire engine at the end of May. The new engine replaced a 16-year old model that had 294,000 miles on it. Working with other agencies, County Fire in the Tri-Community continues to improve skills and technology to protect residents and their property in the event of wildfire, disaster, and medical emergencies.
VFW observes Memorial Day
Submitted by Sandy Brass
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9514 of Phelan held their annual Memorial Day Ceremony honoring those who lost their lives during battle.
VFW Post 9514 kept very busy over the weekend. The Post held multiple events including distributing the red poppies outside of Stater Bros market. On Saturday, at Tractor Supply, the VFW distributed more poppies and the Auxiliary had a bake sale.
Memorial Day observances began at 11:00 am, emceed by out-going Commander Dennis Zambrano, and with local Boy Scout Troop 351 of Wrightwood performing Color Guard duties. Nearly 90 guests attended the event. Eight year-old RozlynnMcKarr delivered the National Anthem and other patriotic songs, a cappella.
Local members of the Quilts of Valor Foundation presented quilts to four veterans, Dennis Zambrano, Ron Haygood, Jim James, and Tim Hartley. The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to cover ALL service member warriors.
After the Memorial Day ceremony, the VFW Post installed their new officers for 2016/27 board.
The afternoon continued as the Boy Scouts then performed a Flag Retirement Ceremony. This elaborate ceremony began with Master of the Ceremonies, Troop Leader Bernie Ojeda, calling the Scouts to attention. The Retirement Honor Guard (RHG) assembled in the middle of the field, and the Cremation Honor Guard stood ready at the burner unit. The grommets from the retired flags were retained and presented to the scouts as tokens of their efforts. The flag ashes were ceremoniously buried.
At the conclusion of the ceremonies, attendees enjoyed a potluck meal together.
Memorial Day Observed in Wrightwood
Was that a C17 fly-over?
By Terri Hill
Several surprising things happened at Wrightwood’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony. One of those that got the most head turns was unquestionably the unexpected, coincidental fly-over of a C17 during the ceremony. As Tom Pinard, acting Chair of the Veterans’ Memorial Committee and MC of the program explained, his contact for the authorization had to deny permission for the honor unless the event was expected to have at 1,000 attendees. While the turnout is always impressive, the audience generally falls short of that number about 800. So it was fortuitous that the pilot of the C17, a Colonel who is acquainted with Pinard, happened to be flying to another destination and Wrightwood was in line with his flight path. Adding to the awe of the moment, the Men’s Choir was singing “America the Beautiful” as the plane soared high overhead. On Tuesday Tom Pinard shared a message from the pilot, Lt Col Tim Harris, “We were holding for a flyover in Lancaster. I was pointing out Wrightwood, and said how I loved to do a flyover there!”
Another welcome surprise for the crowd came Pinard addressed the absence of Carl “Smitty” Smith and Larry Boyes from the committee during the last two months, both dealing with serious health issues. Pinard announced that Smitty had been discharged from the hospital that morning, and his wife Janet brought him straight to the Memorial Ceremony. Later in the proceedings, Smitty’s son Ryan, on his father’s behalf, accepted the flag that has flown over the Memorial Park this year. The gesture was a “Thank you,” to the man who had spearheaded the Memorial Park project and been at the helm of the annual ceremony since. When Ryan delivered the flag to Smitty, other veterans in attendance stood and applauded, followed by the rest of the gathering.
Flying over the park, at half-staff until noon, was a flag that has flown in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was loaned to the community for the solemn event. Boy Scouts from Troop 351 in Wrightwood carried out the color guard duties throughout the ceremony, after which they performed a small and important ritual for a Vietnam widow. When Irene Gentry, a 34-year resident of Pinon Hills, lost her husband in the Vietnam War, she was denied the interment rites generally extended to fallen soldiers. Her husband Robert held a classified rating and his death therefore was not treated with same ceremony afforded to most soldiers’ families. As a result, Mrs. Gentry received only a flag, in a plain box, in the mail as recognition of her husband’s sacrifice. Scouts from Troop 351 performed the duties of properly presenting and folding that flag, and then formally presented it to Mrs. Gentry.
Wrightwood Elementary Singers performed patriotic songs during the ceremony, as did the trio Penny A Kiss as the crowd was gathering before the program began. Lora Steinmann led and sang with the Wrightwood Men’s Choir. As they performed each of the military branches songs, Lora asked active duty and veterans of those branches to stand and be recognized.
Keynote speakers were Dr. Bill, and wife Betty Mohlenbrock. Dr. Mohlenbrock spoke regarding the history of Memorial Day, and his family and neighborhood’s connection. Betty Mohlenbrock remarked on the reasons she founded United Through Reading. Designed to give children and their deployed parents an opportunity to stay connected, the program allows parents to read to their children, face to face on the internet. The program is available on all ships and stations in the U.S. military.
Girl Scouts from Wrightwood Troop 249 presented and laid the memorial wreath, as Boy Scout Johnathon Spray played Taps.
Before Pinard dismissed the gathering, he pointed out the map and names of Serrano graduates serving, and having served, in the military around the world, and those signed up and awaiting deployment. The map is maintained by Traci Steward of Serrano’s Career Center.
Ryan Holman appointed District Superintendent
By Al Morrissette
On Tuesday May 24, Snowline Board of Trustees President Steve Coulombe announced that by a unanimous vote, the Trustees approved the appointment of Dr. Ryan Holman to Snowline Joint Unified School District Superintendent, commencing July 1. Holman currently serves as the District’s Deputy Superintendent and commented that his promotion to Superintendent is “a humbling experience.” He will be the successor to current Superintendent Luke Ontiveros, who has accepted the position of Superintendent in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District in Santa Barbara County, which is his home town district and, when Santa Maria was more rural, the stomping grounds of his youth.
Holman grew up in the Tri-Community as a student of Snowline and graduated from Serrano High School. After graduation he enrolled at the University of California in San Diego and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Business Economics and soon after graduation took a job as a stockbroker earning his Series 7 certification. But he felt uncomfortable with that direction for his future, and felt he had a different calling to fulfill. He contemplated some options and decided to move in the direction that his parents had taken; his father was a teacher in SJUSD and his mother was a teacher in the Hesperia School District. That was 22 years ago, when he called Snowline Superintendent Art Golden seeking a teaching position and was accepted at Pinon Mesa Middle School as a math teacher. At that time Luke Ontiveros was the school’s Principal who saw Ryan’s leadership potential as a school administrator and after a few years of teaching, Ryan was offered the position of Dean of Students and eventually served as the Assistant Principal at the same school.
His tenure included the role of Principal at Phelan Elementary and when Vista Verde Elementary School opened in 2005, he became the inaugural Principal, a position he held for four years. In 2009 he accepted the position of Snowline’s Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning and Support Services and in 2013 accepted the offer of Deputy Superintendent, directly working with Superintendent Ontiveros.
“I was impacted profoundly by the many educators and community members when I was a student in the district, an experience for which I will be forever grateful,” Holman said. “Similarly, I have been extremely fortunate to work in the district and learn from countless outstanding students, educators, and community residents.”
He commented he is amazed that so many friends that he grew up with in Snowline, and many of the students he has worked with through the years, also find the Tri-Community the place to live and raise their families. “These 22 years have made it clear to me that Snowline is a special place deserving of my best and the best from all of us,” Holman said. “This appointment is not about me. It is about us. We need to continue to ensure endless possibilities for all students through high levels of learning. I am honored to be part of the effort.”
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