Malibu Search and Rescue, a team of volunteers who help hoist hikers to safety, pull motorists from ravines and perform other dangerous tasks, logged 117 call outs in 2012, just short of the all-time high of 128 in 2011.
"That makes Malibu SAR the busiest of the sheriff’s eight search and rescue teams," said David Katz, the group's public information officer and a lawyer.
Malibu SAR, which is part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, is made up of volunteers who perform rescues mostly in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Malibu SAR volunteers are paid $1 a year and provide rescue support 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year in the greater Santa Monica Mountains area, including in Malibu, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Westlake, Topanga and Chatsworth, he said.
"By having Malibu SAR rescue patrols on the weekends and responding by pager at other times, the team is ready at a moment’s notice to jump into action to help save the life of one our residents or visitors," Katz said.
This past year, the team responded to several call outs, including a grueling seven hour rescue operation to save four hikers stranded at the bottom of the Rindge Dam in Malibu Canyon.
The team also performed a late night tactical law enforcement wilderness search for an unstable man who escaped from deputies in Corral Canyon and the rescue of a tow truck driver stranded precariously on a cliff face below Encinal Canyon.
Malibu SAR also participated in large scale multi-agency “active shooter” drills at Pepperdine University.
Katz said 2013 has already started off quickly with a request for Malibu SAR to search the hills of Agoura for a burglary suspect.
Malibu SAR works in concert with the sheriff's department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the California Highway Patrol and various federal and state ranger agencies to provide technical expertise for vehicles-over-the-side, missing, stranded and injured hikers, mass casualty incidents, evidence and suspect searches, body recoveries and other operations requiring specialized wilderness expertise.
Malibu SAR receives funding from the sheriff’s department for vehicles and some equipment. In addition, personnel invest thousands of dollars of their own funds for equipment. The team relies on fundraising for much of the equipment needs.