E-bikes added to Ventura County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue toolkit
Under a brilliant summer sun amid a landscape of rolling hills and rocky peaks, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office volunteers and sworn personnel presented their newly acquired e-bikes and e-motorcycles.
Source of this article, the Thousand Oaks Acorn, July 28, 2023
Electronic bikes are bicycles that can be powered by electricity as well as propelled by pedals. An electric motorbike is a motorcycle that runs on electricity instead of gas.
Speaking to a group of reporters and dozens of search and rescue volunteers, Sgt. Kelly Roark said the kind of volunteering search and rescue team members do is different than other types of volunteer activities that are available through the sheriff’s office.
“It’s dangerous, less than ideal,” Roark said. “They do it day and night for free. Thank you to all of them.”
The four e-bikes and two e-motorcycles offer an advantage over regular engine- or people-powered vehicles. One reason is that rescuers can listen while they search, Roark said. On a motorcycle they have to stop, turn off the motor and take off their helmets to listen for someone yelling for help.
The vehicles are also quick and long-lasting.
“Fully charged, they can run several miles and many hours,” Roark said. “Minutes count. It reduces the response time. Time is often the biggest factor in determining someone’s survival.”
The new tools were bought with funds procured by Ventura County Supervisor Jeff Gorell through Chris Hogan of the Hogan Family Foundation.
Gorell decided to find funding for the vehicles a year earlier, when he was in the same area as search and rescue volunteers as they combed the hillsides looking for a missing hiker.
Hogan, whose parents, Ed and Lynn Hogan, were the co-founders of Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, thanked first responders and the search and rescue volunteers.
“When he (Gorell) reached out, we tried to respond as soon as possible. We were happy to make it come true,” she said.
Thanking Hogan and the foundation, Gorell said the Hogan family and their foundation have made many significant contributions to Thousand Oaks, including the Gardens of the World across the street from City Hall.
“This is not about the bikes,” Gorell said. “It’s about people coming together to help one another. Volunteers who are some of the best trained and best prepared, and how well they do what they do.”
Referring to the backdrop of rocky peaks and scrub vegetation, Gorell said that the area is vast in a search for a hiker lost among the open spaces of Ventura County.
“This team needed e-bikes, recognizing that these are volunteers trying to help families find missing loved ones,” he said.
The sheriff’s office has six search and rescue teams that are called to wilderness emergencies. Three are Alpine Mountain teams, including the East Valley Team, the Ojai Team and the Fillmore Team. There is a dive team with qualified divers for underwater search and rescue; a K-9 team, which employs trained handlers and their dogs to track lost hikers and search for cadavers, and a medical team composed of nurses and doctors who provide support to aviation units with advanced life support capabilities on their rescue helicopters.
The six bikes can be transported by helicopter to remote terrain, where they run silently, faster than on foot, and save minutes in a search.