The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

October 29, 2013

Search shows the importance of volunteers

The most amazing thing happened Thursday. Clinton County Emergency Services along with the Sheriff’s Department and Communications provided a Search and Rescue Training for other first responders and the Community Emergency Response Team volunteers. We unexpectedly had a real-life chance to see what a search and rescue operation feels and looks like.

We had just come in from the first training exercise when a call came in to Emergency Services and the deputies that, of all things, there was a real search and rescue emergency. Two little boys, ages 4 and 2, had gone missing out in a rural area, just minutes after they had gone out to play. When she couldn’t find them just a few minutes later, their mom called 911 and the closest responders had arrived almost immediately and searched the house, pool and areas nearby. Meanwhile all other emergency services had been notified, and it was decided they would use the Command Center already set up at Eagle Point Lodge for the search and rescue training. Deputies involved with the training had already left for the scene, and other first responders began arriving and were dispatched. Bill and Lois Hall were at the training with their search and rescue dogs so they were sent out.

Last, after instructions were given, some of us CERT volunteers were sent out to join the search while others stayed to help with Command Center needs.

In between all this activity, the Sheriff’s Department was calmly and quickly as possible arranging for more help, including an equestrian search and rescue team and helicopters with heat-sensing equipment. A perimeter had been set up to monitor traffic in and out of the area. They had already checked whether there were any registered sex offenders in the area.

When we arrived at the home, we saw that the surrounding area was even rougher than it looked on the GIS system. It was surrounded by cornfields, trees and timber, and fields covered in tall grass, weeds and brush. We were sent to search the rough area, there were already search teams in the cornfields, and the dogs were working. We went through brush and weeds as tall as we were, over very rough ground and thick undergrowth. We came upon an abandoned old farmstead, found nothing there. We’d been out only about a half hour when the call came that the boys had been found. Thank God! It was a cold mid-afternoon and only a few hours til dark. Fortunately the little boys were dressed warm.

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