The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is looking for volunteers who’d like to be part of their search and rescue missions involving lost or stranded people.
They held their recruitment volunteer recruitment fair today at Morongo Casino Resort and Spa. The department says over the past few years they’ve seen the number of search and rescues go up. This year alone, they’ve already had 160 rescues in Riverside County.
“Based off of that, we utilize the search teams quite often,” said Lt. Robert Perdue with the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team.
The department had members from several rescue units on hand to answer questions as people signed up to volunteer, including from the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit and the Riverside County Search Dogs. They also displayed equipment and vehicles used to conduct searches through mountainous terrain. Lt. Perdue says people interested in volunteering don’t need to have prior experience.
The department says volunteers respond to a variety of locations including: desert landscapes, woodland areas, and rocky and mountainous terrain.
“If their interested in outdoor activity and that type of thing, once they join a rescue team, they’ll actually receive all of the training certification, even if you come in with zero experience,” he said.
Karolyn Verville from the City of Riverside has been a search and rescue volunteer for years. In 1997, she helped in the aftermath of hurricane Paulina in Mexico.
“We recovered more than 100 people that were unfortunately deceased, but with the search and rescue, the dog and canine rescue team, we were able to accomplish all that and give closures to the families,” Verville said.
The experience a life changing one. Verville now takes on any opportunity to help in search and rescue efforts. So, when she heard about the Riverside County emergency response team needing volunteers, she jumped at the opportunity.
“I’m absolutely looking forward to be being part of this team. Like I was mentioning, it is absolutely necessary, we want to be beneficial to this community,” Verville said.
Volunteers may be requested under the California Mutual Aid System to respond to other counties for search requests or natural disasters.
“It’s very important that people become members because again we really depend on them very much,” said Lt. Perdue.
This is the first time the department’s held a volunteer recruitment fair. They say they’re hoping it sparks more interest within the community.
“You know if you’re the person that needs rescuing, you’d love to be rescued. So, you know, man power is the secret, man power,” said Verville.
To learn more on how to apply to become a volunteer, click on the link http://www.riversidesheriff.org/volunteer/