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Search and Rescue leashing for fundraising

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Lance Boyer, left, and Nick McBeath of Madera County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team display dog leashes made out of retired rescue ropes that are for sale to raise funds for the search and rescue team.


The Madera County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team is making the most of their resources to help purchase new equipment, and even help its volunteers with their equipment.

The Madera SAR technical ropes team is using ropes that have outlived their usefulness and would have been thrown away into a way to help raise money to replace the rope.

The team is repurposing the old rope into leashes for dogs. The SAR team is selling the ropes, repurposed into dog leashes at area stores and farmer’s market. They have already replaced one spool of rope (300 feet) and are looking for more.

“It depends on the type of condition the rope is,” SAR coordinator Sgt. Joe Wilder said. “Sometimes, we can get a good amount for leashes. We get about 20-25 leashes per line. We have two sets of mains and belay lines on our rescue truck in Oakhurst, and we’ve been able to replace both sets so far. We have gotten two spools of ropes. We run so many different other rope variations where all the gear is coming due at the same time.”

Wilder said the initial group of ropes came through a grant from the Lacey and Conner Perterson family.

“The family got together and created a foundation and they used money that was donated to them to fund certain search and rescue groups,” Wilder said. “We were the lucky recipient of a lot of money about 10 years ago, which really infused our program with a lot of gear that we didn’t have. We’re reaching that point where a lot of that gear has reached the end of its life.”

However, instead of just tossing the ropes away, one of Wilder’s volunteers came up with the ideal of turning the rope into dog leashes.

“Normally, what we’ve done in the past with rope that gets damaged in a call is take it out of service because it’s not safe anymore,” Wilder said. “We normally would throw that away. One of my volunteers came up with the idea of turning them into dog leashes and using them as a fundraising mechanism. If we cut, wrap and get them ready for the community as a fundraiser to replace all this rope is great. A normal spool of rope that has a main and belay line is about $800.

“We started right before Christmas where we had a couple of ropes get damaged pretty good so we had to take them out of service. We were ready to throw them away. My voluneer saw the leashes at swap meets. Professional climbers would sell some of their runners (tie-ins) as dog leashes. They asked, what about that? We went to the county if we could do this because it’s county property. They said go ahead. If you were going to just throw it away, try to do something with it. We’ve been successful. We have two sets of mains and belay lines on our rescue truck in Oakhurst, and we’ve been able to replace both sets so far. We have gotten two spools of ropes. We run so many different other rope variations where all the gear is coming due at the same time.”

The ropes/dog leashes are available for purchase at three Madera county locations and at farmers markets.

“We had a lot of good community partnership,” Wilder said. “Evans Feed in Madera has been selling them in their store. Steve’s Pet Shop in Oakhurst, Good Ole Days in Bass Lake has them. We have had great success with the community stepping up to put them in their shop. Amy Varney from the Sheriff’s Foundation has been our best seller. She takes them to the farmer’s markets for the guys. She gets them sold and gets donations. We’ve started to branch out a little bit. Evans Feed is having trouble getting clips for the bridals, which are called lunge ropes, that are about 25 feet long. They are asking if we can make these. We are thinking if we can do this. It’s been phenomenal. The Lions in Madera have been really great to SAR. They have bought us equipment we’ve been in need of. They have been just awesome.”

Getting new lines is important for Wilder. Most of his Search and Rescue crew are volunteers. He said on any given call there is a 5-to-1 ratio between volunteers and Madera County deputies. Because of that, he wants to make sure his volunteers have the best equipment.

“As a coordinator, I pride myself to get my guys the best equipment I can,” he said. “They are up here doing risky stuff they can seriously hurt. I want to make sure they have good equipment and are taken care of. They are risking so much for someone they have never met. Most of our rescues are from people out of the area. This was a win-win. We can get some donations and quickly replace this rope. Our plan is once we cover the cost of the rope on the truck, we are going to reach out to the volunteers. A lot of the volunteers buy their own equipment like harnesses, edge protection lines, which are small diameter rope make just for the rescuer. A lot of the guys have been using that rope all of the time so it’s starting to get old. With how much they do, it’s a great thing to replace that rope for them. It’s the least we can do for them.”


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