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Grant could spell better search and rescue success

Plumas County Search and Rescue is in the process of going after a special State of California Department of Parks and Recreation Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division grant. If successful the team would be able to purchase an off-road utility vehicle and more.

The members of the Plumas County Search and Rescue Team (PCSAR) comprise a volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that has provided the Plumas County Sheriff with manpower and expertise in searching for lost people in and around Plumas County since 1976, said longtime member John Kolb.

Among the team’s other duties is the provision of technical rescue assistance for those who have been injured in accidents, or who are in need of emergency aid due to a myriad of other circumstances This work goes on 365 days of the year, regardless of the time of day or the weather.

Recently, the PCSAR was invited to apply for a significant grant from the State of California’s Department of Parks and Recreation Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program.

The funding for these competitive grants, which are offered statewide, comes primarily from the fees collected annually on off-road motor vehicles (including snowmobiles) by the state under its Green Sticker Program, Kolb explained.

While there are many facets to this grant program, the specific funding sought by the local search and rescue team is called an Education and Safety Grant.

If successful, this grant will provide most of the money needed to purchase one off-road utility vehicle, one trailer with which to transport it, and a set of tracks, similar to those on a snow cat.

“This equipment is not inexpensive — the preliminary estimate, including tax, shipping and dealer preparation, is between $105,000 and $110,000,” Kolb said. The team must provide a match of between 10 percent and 25 percent.

Why are these vehicles needed? Increasingly, injured parties are picked up in the backcountry and transported to a regional hospital via helicopter, but there are many times when weather, darkness or helicopter unavailability prevent or delay their involvement, Kolb said from experience.

Even when such air transportation is available, medical and rescue personnel are often required to be on-scene to provide intervention for treatment and “packaging” prior to transport.

Since a helicopter can get to an accident location much faster than ground teams on foot, mechanized transportation is preferable when it can be used. “Minutes count for a subject who has suffered a serious injury, and the team believes that the proposed use of these UHVs will help save lives. PCSAR envisions that the primary function of this equipment will be winter search and rescue missions — hence the tracks — but the UHVs will also have a role transporting team members and injured subjects during the rest of the year as well,” Kolb explained.

If you have any questions or comments on the nature of this grant, or the proposed use of the equipment that the PCSAR is proposing to acquire, contact team member John Kolb at 283-1931, or mail your question or comment to: PCSAR, PO Box 1774, Quincy, CA 95971.

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