Douglas County Search & Rescue Team: Front Row, left to right: Brooke Ray, DCEMA Director Chana Ray, Tammy Bennett, Jim Hilgenberg, Coles County EMA Director. Hilgenberg is not with the Douglas County team, but was there for the search. Back Row, left to right, Terri Condarco, Tito Condarco, Melea Fombelle, Tracy Anderson. Not pictured: Tammy Esposito, Macon County EMA Director. She was also on the Douglas County team during the search.
By Doris Elmore
Many times, Douglas County residents are unaware of just how fortunate they are with the different organizations and teams we have at our disposal. The Douglas County Search and Rescue Team is one of these groups. This team of individuals is not only available for our county, but to other areas as well when needed.
Chana Ray, Douglas County EMA Director, graciously provided information on the team and one of their recent calls.
On Saturday, March 20, nine different search and rescue teams answered a call regarding a man in Pana who had been missing for over a year. The Illinois State Police had new information and wanted to bring in trained searchers to help aid in finding evidence. The Douglas County Search and Rescue Team answered the call and were successful in their efforts. They were part of a multi-agency search. The team would like to thank Christ-Mont County agencies for the food and communications.
The Douglas County Search and Rescue Team is comprised of hard-working individuals who volunteer their time for in-depth training so when needed, they are ready to help in a minute’s notice.
To enlighten the public on some points of the team: They do all kind of searches such as recovery, evidence, urban and wilderness. The team runs a Project Lifesaver program which has been in existence since 2012. This is a radio transmitter tracking program for those with Alzheimer’s/dementia, autism, or a brain injury. Technologies such as SAR TOPO (CAL TOPO-smartphone app.) and Garmin GPS Units are used to help them track their steps and mark clues, evidence, and waypoints. The team also does adaptive trainings.
In July, they are holding a 16-hour Ground Search and Rescue Class. For those interested that might be a good time to join their team.