Mock Search and Rescue Training Takes to the Woods

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 27, 2014

Last weekend, 15 people in the Pearl River County area participated in a mock search and rescue drill led by emergency room nurse and Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Seal and Picayune Firefighter Ricky Sauls.

Seal began the drill program after attending the Department of Homeland Security’s class called Overland Search and Rescue.

“After taking the class, I wanted to bring some of that knowledge back,” Seal said. Adding, that through word of mouth, he and Sauls, who is also a certified advanced rescue specialist, wrangled up fifteen volunteers, who were interested in being trained on search and rescue. The 15 volunteers included local people from the fire department, representatives from the sheriff’s department, and average citizens.

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The drill consisted of handing the 15 volunteers coordinates and a map. Volunteers then had to make their way through the woods and learn how to get around. Seal and Sauls also trained the volunteers on basic land navigation and the psychology of lost people based on statistical data.

During the drill, which took a little more than two hours, volunteers had to know where to go and learned how to extract someone who was in need.

This was the second meeting for the mock drill and Seal hopes to expand the training program in the future.

“Now we’re just showing people how to use a map and compass to get from point A to B, but hopefully we can grow and train more people,” Seal said. He plans to incorporate the county’s water rescue specialist and rope rescue specialist into the program further down the road.

He also added that the volunteers trained during last week’s exercise will help train the next group of volunteers, and he expects to see more people come out for the next drill, which will be scheduled sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Anyone interested in this training can contact Emergency Management Director and Fire Services Coordinator Danny Manley at