By Garrett Christensen on Friday, March 24th, 2023 in More Top Stories Northeastern Oregon News
EASTERN OREGON – Eastern Oregon Search and Rescue (EOSAR) officially welcomed twelve new volunteers into its ranks with the completion of the March SAR Academy this past weekend. Hosted in Island City during the Weekends of March 11 and 18, the academy is operated by and for volunteers and serves as a crucial qualifying step for Oregon’s Search and Rescue personnel.
According to Union County Emergency Manager Nick Vora, the Academy has operated for the past ten years and adheres to continuously updated SAR certifications originally based on standards set by the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association. SAR members in training are assessed on survival, navigation, patient care and search and tracking skills through both hands-on training and an extensive 112 question written exam. The academy concluded with a field day on March 19 at the Mount Emily Recreation Area. As Vora commented:
“From a functional standpoint, we aim to equip academy graduates with all the tools they need to be fully functional as an entry-level SAR team member, with the expectation that they will continue agency-specific training with their home unit.”
This year’s students include SAR members from Baker, Umatilla, Union, and Gilliam counties. In addition, experienced SAR members from around Oregon also volunteer as Academy instructors, donating time to teach classes and proctor exams.
For those interested in joining or supporting search and rescue, Vora recommends reaching out to their local sheriff’s office and applying. Though the search and rescue work in the field is essential, volunteers are still needed in other roles such as equipment maintenance and logistical support. Regarding Eastern Oregon’s current SAR volunteers, Vora commented:
“In rural eastern Oregon, our ability to respond to emergencies is dependent on the hundreds of highly trained and selfless volunteers who put the needs of others above their own. As a county emergency manager, I cannot overstate the value of our search and rescue, fire, EMS, Red Cross, and other emergency response agency volunteers. They come from all demographics and walks of life and are the true heroes of our community. They don’t do it for a paycheck, they don’t do it because they have to, they do it because they want to and they care.”