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Sleds, snow, tunes aid Search & Rescue

 

January 25, 2018



They would come looking for you if you needed them, so the public showed up to look out for them. Sanders County Search & Rescue is an all-volunteer operation made up of brave individuals who are on-call, day or night, rain, snow or shine. “The mill levy scheduled for us is barely enough to keep us going, so we can only effectively operate with the help of donations,” said Sanders County Sheriff Deputy Jerry Johnson, who moonlights as a member of the rescue team, “this year’s fundraiser was a huge boost for us.”

The theme of the night was snowmobiling, complete with a movie premiere from the fearless stunt sledders known as Thunderstruck. Each year the extreme-sport group compiles footage of the best jumps, runs and wipeouts from that year to produce a hair-raising, snow-spitting, action packed film. Supporters of Sanders County Search & Rescue and fans of snowmobiling gathered in the Lakeside Hotel and Resort banquet hall, filling nearly every seat.

When all was said, done and tallied, Johnson reported that the lifesaving rescue crew would have about $5,500 more than usual in the coffers – compared to last year’s sum of $3,500.

“This is a big help,” shared Johnson, “after insuring the vehicles, building expenses, workman’s compensation and failing equipment there really isn’t anything leftover for emergencies.” The irony of Search & Rescue emergency response team having an emergency isn’t lost on Johnson. The busier they get, the more funds that are likely to be needed, “And this was a very busy year,” Johnson explained.

, “this hunting season we were out every weekend tracking down lost hunters.” The abnormal morel mushroom regulations following the previous year’s Thompson River fire complex attracted more shroom hunters than usual, most of whom were amateurs in from out of town who lost their way easily. Another summer rescue required the assistance of Two Bear Air’s helicopter pilots to evacuate a very hungry and thirsty hiker who had slipped into a ravine, injuring his leg. “I’m just glad we didn’t have to retrieve any bodies from the river,” Johnson said of his least favorite rescue scenario, “of course it is unpleasant, but it is also pretty sad to see.”

For Sanders County Search & Rescue, preparedness is key – but extra funding will only go so far when it comes to saving lives. At some points, more “boots on the ground” is in higher demand for the rescuers than funding. “We never know when someone is going to need our help, so we need to be ready for anything,” said Johnson, who added that volunteers are always needed to boost the group’s numbers and allow periods of relief for rescuers when all hands are called on-deck for longer events.

Following Thunderstruck’s film, the movie was started over with the volume turned all the way down. The break in audio left a vacuum to be filled by country-billy rockers, Fire Creek Band of Thompson Falls. The crowd was already pretty tuned and ready to dance, as Lakeside staff had been feeding the crowd get-up-and-dance juice from the bar for hours. As the banquet hall slowly emptied, the dance floor filled with serious movers and shakers who obviously had experience cutting rug. Stray single ladies were dragged out to the dance floor more than once to get a good spin and a laugh, thanks to the groove-oriented men in need of a boogie partner.

Those interested in joining the fearless crew at Sanders County Search & Rescue can attend their monthly meeting held the first Thursday of every month, 7 p.m. at the Search & Rescue Barn on Golf Street in Thompson Falls.

 

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