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Plumas County Search and Rescue swift water rescue personnel assist in a 2011 vehicle recovery in the North Fork of the Feather River. Photos submitted

Plumas County Search and Rescue seeks new recruits

Editor’s Note:  This is the second installment of a two-part article submitted by the Plumas County Search and Rescue Team as part of their efforts to educate the public about their mission, and invite potential new members to join the team. View part 1

The California Highway Patrol winches an injured person into the helicopter cabin during a 2009 rescue on Jamison Creek near Johnsville.

An ideal prospect for the Plumas County Search and Rescue Team would be a full-time county resident who is in good physical condition and who has the ability and the desire to respond to a call for help 24 hours a day, in any kind of weather, 12 months a year.

Since very few of us are 25-year-old triathlon athletes who enjoy that kind of availability, what we really ask is that you keep yourself in decent physical condition, participate in trainings and respond to call-outs as often as possible.

Some of our team members are retired (but active), and don’t have job responsibilities tying them down.  Most of us, however, still work and have obligations that we can’t always get away from. As we discussed last week, PCSAR is called upon to handle a variety of missions across the whole county and sometimes beyond. Because of that, we need capable people with a comprehensive range of abilities who are willing to respond to call-outs countywide.

We currently have such members living at Lake Almanor, in Quincy and in the Portola area, with our base of operations located in Quincy.

So, how can you become a member? A successful candidate must be able to pass an in-depth background check, be free of drugs and other intoxicants, be at least 18 years of age and be willing and able to absorb the intense training regimen that lies before them.  This is not the place for you if you are a “joiner” who thinks that being a SAR team member will somehow enhance your image, or if your schedule is too busy to make participation in this work among your highest priorities.

Plumas County Search and Rescue personnel bring an injured off-highway vehicle driver up to a waiting ambulance in 2010.

If you think this sounds as serious as life or death, that’s because we believe it is. We can’t afford to expend valuable training time and team-provided equipment on someone who will not turn out to be an important resource for us, and we certainly can’t put anyone out in the field that might be a danger to themselves or another teammate because they haven’t mastered their required training.

We won’t try to pull the wool over your eyes — this is a difficult calling. Not everyone who starts search and rescue training will finish, and not everyone is cut out for this kind of work. The rewards are definitely not monetary — “volunteer” being the operative word here — but are more in the realm of the satisfaction you will gain from helping save a life.  Your payment will be in the form of the comradeship you will enjoy by working with a close-knit group of trained and caring teammates in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances.

If you truly believe that you would like to take on the responsibilities of being a search and rescue team member in Plumas County, pick up an application at the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office at 1400 East Main St. in Quincy. Or call 283-6375, Monday through Thursday, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., for more information. Be sure to leave a message if you can’t get through.

There will be an informational meeting Jan. 21 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office to answer your questions and meet some of our current team members.  After that meeting, if you still believe that you would like to become a search and rescue volunteer, you will be fingerprinted and your background check will begin.

A search and rescue team member practices making a vertical haul at the Red Bridge on La Porte Road during a 2010 training.

Roughly 12 months later, when the team has you trained, you will be welcomed as a contributing team member — someone that we have enough confidence in to allow them to take part in our operations.  Think you’ve got what it takes? Only one way to find out.

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