These are my stories as a volunteer member of the Sheriff's Search & Rescue team in Coconino County, Arizona. I'll share what it's like to go from a beginner with a lot to learn to an experienced and, hopefully, valuable member of the team, as well as the missions, trainings, and other activities along the way.
About Coconino County
About Coconino County
Encompassing 18,661 square miles, Coconino County, Arizona, is the second largest county in the U.S. but one of the least populated. Our county includes Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo, Havasupai, Hualapai and Hopi Indian Reservations, and the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world. Elevations range from 2,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado River to 12,633 feet at the summit of Mt. Humphreys in Flagstaff.
March 16, 2009
Five Out Of The Last Seven Days
You know, sometimes I look around at my teammates, working hard at their assignments, giving their all in the field, and think to myself, wow, they don't have to be out here. Search & Rescue isn't a job for us; we're volunteers. But you wouldn't know it if you saw the effort these folks put forth. I'm truly inspired by the dedication I see around me, and I feel that way too. When our pagers go off or the phone rings and we're asked to respond, it doesn't matter that we're not paid for this. It's way more rewarding and satisfying than money, as I see it.
But it can be very frustrating too. We want to find who (and sometimes what) we're looking for. Day after day of searching but finding nothing--not a clue--turns me into a redundant rambler. My poor husband, he has to listen to me say things like, "It just doesn't make sense; that man (or woman, as the case may be) has to be out there" or "Where could he be?" as I make him look at the maps with me. I'm fortunate, though, that Steve is truly interested and understands when I get hung up on an unresolved mission.
And we've had a couple of those lately, including the man from the van. I was out there helping to search for him for four days, doing my best to look under every bush and tree, while trying not to twist an ankle or trip on the rocks and keeping an eye on my teammate to my right or left as we performed grid searches. It's one thing to do that in an open field, but staying in line and on track over rugged terrain and through dense brush certainly is a challenge. I appreciated the great work my field team leaders did during those assignments, not only searching and navigating but keeping an eye on the rest of us and keeping us in proper formation at the same time. I most definitely learned some things and think I improved my grid search skills this past week.
Well, it's time to trade my pajamas for spandex and a cotton tee and head to Jazzercise. I'm still trying to lose some pounds off of me and up my fitness level in preparation for that "3 miles in 45 minutes with a 45-pound pack" test for the Technical Rescue Team. Then, after an hour of aerobic dancin', it's back to this chair for several hours of work. Part of my mind, though, will be on my teammates in the field today. I do hope there will be some news.
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