Pearl River County Joint Search and Rescue train hard for any scenario

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Members of the Pearl River County Joint Search and Rescue train for a situation where a helicopter is needed to help transport or locate a missing person at the Walkiah Bluff Water Park on Saturday.

Members of the Pearl River County Joint Search and Rescue train for a situation where a helicopter is needed to help transport or locate a missing person at the Walkiah Bluff Water Park on Saturday.

For the past couple of months, the Pearl River County Joint Search and Rescue team conducted training exercises to better prepare for any scenario.
Last Saturday, SAR instructors performed a mock scenario in which a man became lost while hunting in the swamp area near Walkiah Bluff Water Park. But before they headed into the swampy forest, the crew was trained on how to communicate and carry out a rescue helicopter landing during emergencies.
“We worked on our communication with a helicopter pilot and how to speak their language so they know where we are and safely land in a landing zone,” Head Instructor Steve Seal said.
To help a pilot land a helicopter in unfamiliar territory is a difficult task, especially at night, Seal said. The crew worked on effective communication of the hazards in the landing zone that should be avoided, where they are in relation to the helicopter and how to safely approach a helicopter once it has landed.
“We are not out here just to play with helicopters, we are here to prepare ourselves for any and every situation possible. If we need a helicopter to assist us with shipping a patient to a hospital, it’s a serious task that cannot have any hiccups,” Seal said.
After that, the crew conducted a field test to find a man on a hunting trip who was stuck in a tree. The team conducted every step as if it were a real mission.
They plotted their coordinates on a map before finding that spot on the river. Once they got there, they had to climb a 12-foot bank from a boat with all their equipment and then interview another family member to develop a search plan. The crew then located the man through a line search, which was represented by a 160-pound dummy, Emergency Operations Center Director of Pearl River County Danny Manley said. Since the patient was 12-feet up in a tree, the crew had to climb the tree with a rope, make an anchor point, harness the patient with the rope and safely lower him to the ground before strapping him into a stretcher, which they hauled back to the boat through the woods.
“In these few weekends, I have tried to teach these guys skills that took me well over 500 hours of certification training to develop. I narrowed it down to the specific skills that are relevant to Pearl River County and the type of equipment we have available,” Manley said. “What we are trying to do here is to get them the most effective amount of training we can in a short amount of time while keeping it fun and interesting for the members.”
Members of the PRCSAR are all volunteers.
“Everything we do is for a good cause, which makes every second worthwhile. We all have full-time jobs and families to attend to, but we all are on the same page. If someone is in trouble, we are here and trained to help,” Seal said.
Seal and Manley said people should call PRCSAR instead of trying to find a missing loved one themselves. Not doing so could result in further confusion and loss of valuable time, Manley said.
“Do not hesitate to call us for an emergency. We rather you call and we find him in 10 minutes than you not call and we lose 4 hours of daylight to find someone. We are training for a reason. The faster you call us the safer the missing person will be,” Manley said.
Because hunting season is coming up, Seal offered to share safety tips with them for use while out in the woods.
The crew trains continuously throughout the year and welcome anyone wishing to join or support their efforts by donating equipment or time.
There are no requirements to volunteer.
“We don’t want to be part of the problem, we want to be part of the solution,” Seal said.
To get involved or support the PRC Search and Rescue team, visit their Facebook page at Pearl River County Joint Search and Rescue.

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