On Saturday, December 10th, a gathering of search and rescue volunteers, Sheriff's Office personnel, folks from the Department of Public Safety, Guardian Medical Transport, local fire departments, the Park Service and Forest Service, Sheriff's Posse volunteers, members of the County Board of Supervisors, friends and family and members of the public celebrated the Grand Opening of the new Coconino County Sheriff's Search and Rescue facility, which is located behind the law enforcement complex in Flagstaff.
This new building houses all of our team's SAR equipment, including our technical rescue gear, snow and ice and medical equipment, a fleet of snowmobiles and ATVs, a snow cat and other search and rescue vehicles, communications equipment, water rescue equipment, and more.
The facility now also brings our meetings, trainings, and coordination under that same roof. This means more efficiency and even faster response times, since the team will no longer be operating between this new building and the main law enforcement building across the parking lot.
According to yesterday's article in the Arizona Daily Sun, construction on the new search and rescue facility began back in 2004, when the pavement was first poured. But that construction stalled soon afterward when financing dried up, and the actual structure wasn't completed until 2008. At that time, our team was able to move the equipment from its long-standing location on the east side of town at the county yard to the new west-side facility, making our response to call-outs more convenient for most of us.
From that point until just a few days ago, however, we'd been operating out of a shell of a building, with our coordinator and map-printing capabilities over in the Sheriff's Office, which meant that preparing to deploy for a mission was what you might call a fragmented operation. Not so any longer, thanks to additional funding of this project by the County Board of Supervisors, enabling the completion of the administrative side of the building. There's still work to be done, including the installation of a sixth bay door, a mezzanine, a climbing wall for training, and the paving of the exterior parking area, but that will happen over time.
On Saturday, SAR members were on hand to answer questions about our equipment, including a new Humvee from the Arizona National Guard, and our training program. Lunch was followed by comments from Sheriff Bill Pribil, members of the Board of Supervisors, and our team captain, Andrew Moore, and then a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Here are some photos from the event...
|The new sign
|Our snow cat, some quads, and our new Hummer in the back
|A gift from the National Guard
|The huge bay where we store team equipment and vehicles.
|Technical rescue and snow & ice equipment (and a rescue dummy)
|The new communications room
|The new meeting and training room with flat screen monitors
|The kitchen, for events and to feed volunteers during big incidents
|Our team captain cuts the ribbon as the Sheriff and many others look on