Delivering Emergency Search And Rescue In Snohomish County
Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue (SCVSAR) is an all-volunteer organization delivering emergency response to those in need across the county’s urban and wilderness areas. SCVSAR’s dedicated members come to the aid of anyone lost, injured, or missing, wherever they might be. The organization is composed entirely of volunteers, with no paid staff.
2020 started out as a normal year with a normal amount of calls. Then COVID-19 struck, and more and more people headed outside. The mission response jumped dramatically putting significant strain on our resources. In 2020, 300+ volunteers responded to 139 missions and provided 7,650 hours of service on those missions.
With the Wockner Foundation’s donation to SCVSAR, they were able to enhance searcher safety, improve search and rescue outcomes, and improve organizational capacity. They have done this and more by implementing new technology, and updating old equipment so that the group can tackle any mission that may be thrown at them.
SCVSAR was able to purchase an unmanned aerial vehicle system that helps the team to view terrain that would otherwise be inaccessible to searchers. With this system, the team is able to cover much more territory in a shorter period of time than any ground searcher can. This new technology also enhances team safety, as searchers may not need to go into difficult, dangerous terrain.
This year the team also added a backcountry repeater/radio to their technological arsenal, which allows searchers a safe and effective means of communication, even deep in the backcountry. The mountainous makeup of our region necessitates this piece of kit, since without it, regular radio signals get lost. To further beef up their communication ability, SCVSAR purchased a remote radio system that allows a volunteer Resource Coordinator to communicate from a central location through a radio system that ultimately connects to the radio in the field. The Resource Coordinator is able to communicate back to the team about volunteers responding as well as to coordinate needed equipment. Oftentimes the team is in a remote location so while they are in radio communication with the 911 center, they are not connected with the responding volunteers. This means that they do not always know who and how many are responding.
These technical additions, along with other much needed purchases of truck winches, rigging, ropes, an underwater camera system for river recoveries, the team was able to lead more successful missions, furthering their mission and motto, “That Others May Live!”
Images courtesy of Snohomish County Search & Rescue