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Sheriff’s recruiting for search and rescue teams

For The Madera Tribune

The Madera County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue teams are actively recruiting for volunteers. There are about five or six deputies assigned to the teams and about 125 volunteers on staff ready to help, when possible.


There are about five or six deputies assigned to the Madera County Search Rescue teams and about 125 volunteers on staff ready to help, when possible.

Because of that, the Madera Search and Rescue teams are always actively recruiting and, according to Search and Rescue coordinator, the process is rather easy.

“Right now, it’s the easiest to join the group,” he said. “It’s an online test. You study at your own pace. Once you pass the test, we conduct a background check and you’re on the team. Many of us are friends outside of this. We had a guy ask to help paint his house and we had 7-8 of us show up. A lot of volunteers become friends with each other.

“If one goes to the Sheriff’s website under Search and Rescue, there’s a downloadable application. They can visit any of the Sheriff offices. If they email me, I can get them hooked up with the right information. We always welcome new people because many hands make light work. It’s very helpful to have more people. Many of them get hooked. I am very humbled by how much they give. They are great people.”

The Madera County Sheriff’s Search and Resuce teams averages about 100 calls per year. The technical ropes team averages between 20-25 calls a year.

“Within SAR, we have other teams like mounted, four-wheel drive, ground pounders and dogs,” Wilder said. “Of those teams, our technical rope rescue team is the busiest team we have. During the summer, they average about one call a week. That ranges from people falling in a creek, slipping and falling on a trail. They do a lot of work. A lot of the equipment they use is expensive. You attach the word rescue, it has to be high-caliber, high-quality and withstand a lot of beating.”

Wilder calls his volunteers the backbone of the SAR program.

“I’m as close to as an assigned person as possible,” he said. “I’m the coordinator for the unit so I oversee operations. I have about 125 SAR volunteers. About 50, I see very consistently. The others, I see every couple of months because they have lives and jobs. They come out when they can.”

Recently, the MCSO Search and Rescue technical ropes team have been re-utilizing their rescue ropes into dog leashes. They are re-purposing the ropes that have been determined unusable for rescues or have been dated out to make dog leashes. The leaches are $25 and can be found at a variety of locations in the county.

“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 is called lunch ropes, which 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 have responded. 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.”

Wilder, whose other job is the Office of Emergency Services Coordinator, has also had his volunteers help in that aspect, as well.

“When there is a fire, my guys come out to help me out there,” he said. “We run shelter operations. The amount of time these guys give back to the community is amazing. A lot of people don’t see it. They don’t get much exposure. Anything for the guys. I am very humbled by how much they give. They are great people.”


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