Lane County Search & Rescue trains new group of volunteers to survive & help
DEXTER, Ore. (KMTR) -- Dozens of Lane County Search and Rescue volunteers are honing their skills in the wilderness this weekend to help save lives likely in the near future.
Around 30 search and rescue volunteers have set up camp about 16 miles southeast of Dexter as part of a Search and Rescue 101 class.
Volunteers are a big part of what makes the Lane County Search and Rescue team so successful, according to coordinators.
In 2011, around 85 search and rescue missions were dispatched, racking up more than 17-thousand hours of volunteer time.
“To me, it’s priceless, what they do, we save lives and they save lives every time we have to go out and look for somebody,” says John Miller, coordinator for the Lane County Search and Rescue team.
Volunteers need skills though. Saturday, May 5th, 2012, the group began a weekend outing as part of a culmination of more than 100 hours of volunteer training in the SAR 101 class. Group members are now proving themselves fit enough to help others.
Through Saturday and Sunday, volunteers are being tested on rescue skills like search technique and patient carrying.
Survival skills are another big piece.
Rachel Glenzer and Shamara Clark are two of the volunteers taking part. Saturday afternoon, the two had to find dry wood and build a fire to boil water.
"For me, it's the unknown. I'm not a big outdoorsy kind of person so this is the first time I've really had to use survival skills. Learning all of it has just been a challenge and applying it has been amazing,” says Shamara Clark, a volunteer with the Lane County Search and Rescue, involved in the SAR 101 class.
“Not just thinking, 'oh yeah its fine, it’s just for the day,' you could sprain your ankle out there and not be able to make it back on your own or something so it’s just always being prepared,” says Rachel Glenzer, another SAR 101 class participant.
Volunteers are building shelters on Saturday night as well, based on a model one that Search and Rescue Explorers put this together. The small a-frame shelter is walled off with pine limbs and a tarp for warmth. Ferns line the bottom to keep the sleeper dry.
“It doesn't take a lot of skill to do it. If you are in to going outside and hiking, it’s a good skill to know just incase you get stranded, it gets too bad, the weather,” says Kera Holt, a Search and Rescue volunteer.
“I'm going to start putting them to work right away, we'll have not only land searches but water incidents that we can use them to assist with us on and a variety of other things,” says Miller.
Saturday night, the class participants will take part in a "mock search mission,” looking for someone who is “lost” with just minimal clues as to where they are.
Lane County’s Search and Rescue team is one of the top three dispatched in Oregon. In 2011, the team rescued 142 people, who were all returned alive and well.