PARISH – Fifteen students of the Oswego County Search and Rescue (SAR) Academy recently completed their final field testing and are now prepared to participate in wilderness search and rescue operations across the region.
The students completed more than 108 hours of classroom training and field work between March and June.
During their final field tests in the Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area, all 15 students were individually evaluated for their skills in map and compass, land navigation, global positioning systems, and survival skills as they covered a course more than three miles in length.
“The Oswego County SAR Academy provides a solid background in essential search and rescue skills and ensures that students get the knowledge and ‘hands-on’ experience they need to safely and effectively operate as ground search resources,” said SAR Director Scott Morehouse. “We work closely with the Onondaga County Search and Rescue Team and try to hold a training academy annually in Oswego or Onondaga counties.”
Classes were held at the Oswego County Emergency Response Training Center in Oswego, Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area, and the Oswego County Nature Park at Camp Zerbe.
The graduates are residents of Oswego, Cayuga, Onondaga and Jefferson counties.
The curriculum provided a thorough introduction to search and rescue techniques including map and compass, global positioning systems, man-tracking, wilderness survival, radio communications, search techniques, cold weather emergencies, crime scene preservation, the National Incident Management Systems (NIMS), and a variety of other topics.
The graduates are now certified in NYS DEC Basic Wildlands Searcher, Wilderness First Aid, American Heart Association CPR, and Project Lifesaver Electronic Search Specialist.
Ten of the new graduates were accepted into the Oswego County Pioneer Search and Rescue Team, and five were accepted into the Wilderness Search and Rescue Team in Onondaga County.
The new members of the Oswego County Pioneer Search and Rescue team are Janet Clerkin, Parish; Jason Fellows, Hastings; Sandra Gibson, Pulaski; Jeff Hammond, Oswego; Dennis Jeffers, Fort Drum; Paul Munger, Sterling; Randall Pitcher, Oswego; Leonard Redhead, Hastings; Roxane Thormann, Williamstown; and Jim Watros, Mexico.
New members of the Wilderness Search and Rescue Team are Holly Bushnell, North Syracuse; Greg Mahnken, Cicero; Jackelyn Smithler, Onondaga; Ryan Healy, Baldwinsville; and Dylan Hauprich, Cicero.
The Oswego County Search and Rescue Team is the primary search and rescue resource for Oswego County, working closely with the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office, the NYS DEC Forest Rangers, NYS Police, and other law enforcement agencies.
The team is an all-volunteer unit, founded in 1971, and is funded through community donations and grants.
In 2015, the team responded to more than 50 calls for service.
“Although the team’s primary response area is Oswego County, we actively participate in searches across the state when additional resources are needed,” said Morehouse. “Members have conducted several searches this spring and summer in Oswego and nearby counties, and recently participated in searches in the Adirondacks.”
For more information visit www.oswegosar.org or https://www.facebook.com/OCPSAR.