Many people flock to Morgan County for its abundance of recreational opportunities. Activities such as boating, fishing, rafting, hiking, snowmobiling, hunting, bike riding and more are readily enjoyed throughout the county. Whether it is a family outing, a weekend camping with friends, or a solo retreat, residents and visitors alike are able to make great memories and find pure enjoyment.
Beautiful playgrounds like East Canyon Reservoir, the Weber River, and endless canyons and draws are a lot of fun, but they also present an element of danger. That is where the Morgan County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue comes in.
Often many don’t think of the Search and Rescue until there is a problem. A hiker is stranded, a child has wandered or is lost, a snowmobiler may have triggered an avalanche or a drowning may have occurred. In these emotional and tragic moments, having a highly skilled rescue team is an incredible local resource. The Search and Rescue organization has trained specialized teams for dive, swift water, crime, tracking, K9, climbing, and many more specialized scenarios they may be called to face.
Last Friday and Saturday, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue met together with other teams from Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Nevada. Every June these teams assemble to learn from each other’s experiences and to celebrate their heroic successes.
Most people are probably unaware the Search and Rescue is a completely voluntary team. In fact, you could call them highly trained, unpaid, professional volunteers. Each of the members spends many hours each week devoted to training for situations that may arise. Not only do they put life and limb in harm’s way for others, they also devote their time and quite often their money for the privilege of serving our community. The county does not provide any monetary support and very little grant money can be attained. Some members estimate that each spends approximately $2,500 each year out of pocket going toward equipment and maintenance.
Between always being on call and pursuing essential training, volunteers spend a lot of time away from their families. This event also showed appreciation to those who willingly sacrifice so that others can stay safe.
In an effort to include children, Friday afternoon’s celebration started out with a kids’ shoot. Friday night followed with a dinner, social and awards given to those shooting that day. Early Saturday morning an election was held for the new officers for the upcoming year. Later in the afternoon a GPS rally was held to further the GPS skills of searchers.
Participants were led through Morgan County, which also helped them become more familiar with the terrain. CPR, AED (automated external defibrillator), and first aid training were provided to augment their highly specialized skills. Ending the festivities Saturday night was the Instillation Banquet and Awards ceremonies.
Peterson resident George Archibeque, known to other searchers as “Archi,” has been a part of the National Search and Rescue (NSAR) since 1986. Archibeque holds the title of Commander of the Morgan Branch of the NSAR and you can tell he loves what he does. Eager to share his knowledge, Archibeque spearheaded this year’s celebration and has even made it a family affair as his kids who have followed him around for years are now able to take a part. Bringing together the 20 search and rescue volunteers from Morgan as well as the teams from out of town, they were able to reminisce on why they continue to do what they do.
Monte Coleman of North Logan has been a member for over 40 years. Ironically he joined because he was reading a friend’s copy of the National Search and Rescue Newspaper and wanted a copy. When he asked how to get his own copy, the friend told him to join. Through the years he has found what keeps him going is finding friends in the group that have the same values. He has a deep desire to protect his friends and others.
Garth Barker became involved 25 years ago. He demonstrated many important back country skills due to his love of camping, hunting, fishing and snowmobiling, making him a natural fit for the Search and Rescue.
He is now one of the leading man trackers in the area and teaches classes for others to be aware of changes. When asked what to look for, Barker states, “You look for what’s not elsewhere. People leave signs no matter what.”
Having studied Universal Tracking Services for 15 years, he shares that often people make mistakes when a loved one wanders. Wanting them to be found quickly, people often call in friends and family to areas to aid in the search. He warns that most of the time this only hinders the search. His advice would be to call in the Search and Rescue teams before any of the area is disturbed so that they are able to better track the individual. For those lost, the advice would most definitely be to sit still, shelter and wait for help.
Above all, the ultimate payoff for these volunteers is being able to save someone in trouble. This is why they do what they do—willingly putting their lives on the line in dangerous situations time after time. As their creed states, “These things we do that others may live”.
Please come out and support Morgan County’s Search and Rescue team at their fundraiser breakfast held at the Widowmaker Hill Climb June 27-29. When you see them, make sure to give them a big thanks for all they do.
For those over 21 who would like info on joining the Morgan County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, please pick up an application at the Morgan County Sherriff’s office.