Jeremiah Kost has been an electrician for more than 20 years, and in the two and a half years he’s been with Roberts Electric, he’s become a customer favorite. But something our customers probably don’t know about Jeremiah? He’s a Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteer with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office.
On call 24/7
There’s no schedule for people getting lost, so Jeremiah and his team are on call 24/7 for both local and mutual aid searches throughout the state of California. Searches generally fall into three broad categories: 1) Hikers; 2) People with dementia; and 3) At-risk children. The search areas range from urban to high mountain wilderness.
“Sometimes we are called out to find hunters. Unfortunately, some of them go to into the woods unprepared, without adequate clothing, food, shelter or navigational tools. In a recent case, a couple of hunters got caught in an unexpected snowstorm. We were able to find them, but only one of them survived the ordeal.”
Search efforts fall under the jurisdiction of the local Sheriff; when they have exhausted their own resources or when they know they will need an exceptionally large number of searchers, they call in SAR teams from other counties. It’s also the Sheriff’s decision to call off the search when resources and leads have been exhausted.
Not always a happy ending
On searches for hikers in remote areas, teams generally consist of three to five searchers and they carry Global Positioning devices (GPS). When they return to the command post, they download data that gets mapped to show where the searchers have been, helping to narrow the search parameters.
“We love happy endings, but sometimes we don’t get there in time, and even experienced hikers get tired and sometimes make fatal mistakes.” Searches for elderly dementia patients are particularly difficult because they don’t follow normal thought processes and end up in very strange locations.
The SAR program is a commitment
Volunteers are required to attend anywhere from one to three academies, be certified in first aid, and participate in monthly team trainings. Jeremiah has been training/searching an average of 270 hours/year for each of the four years he’s been on the team. There are eight specialized units within CoCoSAR; and Jeremiah is a member of three: the Mountain Rescue Group, the Mass Casualty Urban Disaster Unit (USAR), and the Tracking unit. More information about CoCoSAR.