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.

April 6, 2011

Feeling Guilty -- Two Missed Missions

So, it's been three and a half years since I joined the team. And during most of that time, I rarely missed a mission, unless I was out of town or otherwise really tied up. I've put in ... well, all tolled, I'm sure it's been more than 1,000 hours of just mission time, let alone trainings and meetings and other SAR events.

These days, though, it's a little tougher for me to respond to call-outs, due to medical (and mental) issues with my elderly, disabled mom, with me being her primary caretaker, and other commitments I've had lately. The last several months have been "quieter" on the call-out front than most of my time with the unit, but I've had to miss a number of those missions. And it bothers me.

There was a call-out last night, in fact. The phone woke me after I'd fallen asleep on the couch. I don't remember what time it was, but it was fairly late, and I was really tired. I listened to the call-out voice message, looked at the call-out text message, and then read the call-out email, contemplating. Agonizing for several minutes, as I listened to wind whip around the house. Should I go? Should I stay? What about the things I had to do in the morning? What if the mission weren't over by then? And, even so, I might get little to no sleep before I'd have to take care of the next day's commitments. Finally, I decided, albeit reluctantly, not to respond. It was a call to search for two lost hikers on the peaks.

Missing this mission made me feel guilty, more so because I'd had to skip another one just the night before -- two more lost hikers on the peaks, in fact. I don't know anything about either search, because I haven't yet talked to any teammates who were on them, and I've seen nothing in the newspaper. I wonder what happened and how long the team was out there. Maybe it sounds silly, but it often bugs me when I can't participate.

At 11:11pm, I'm wondering if there will be another call-out tonight. If so, I go!


Peg Brantley said...

I can only imagine how torn you must have been. But the truth is, unless you're mentally in the game you're probably not as effective as you should be.

Life has a way of forcing us to adjust from time to time, and that's not a bad thing. When you get that next call, and your head is in the right place, then you'll be able to meet your expections regarding contribution.

In the meantime, don't be so hard on yourself.

A professional always knows when to pull back.

Deb Kingsbury said...

Thanks, Peg! :)

Anonymous said...

I've dealt with this issue over the last 5 years I've been on a SAR team. I have had to come to the realization that work, family time and SAR have to be balanced for me to be able to continue being an active participant. I have a friend who left the team because he couldn't give 100%. I was disappointed by his decission. I would rather have his expartise on 25% of the missions then not at all. Yes, there are times when I have to miss a mission for no good reason, and I have the same guilty feelings.