Friday, February 17th. Missing Woman in Concord
An at-risk female went missing from a group home. Within an hour of the call going out to the Hasty Squad, it was cancelled when the woman was found safe.
Friday, February 17th. Missing Woman in Walnut Creek
A 59-year-old female went missing from her home Thursday, and remained missing all day Friday. She had her cell phone with her, but was not responding to calls. Cell phone pings helped identify various locations to search. Twentyfour Hasty Squad members responded to a command post in Walnut Creek. Two field teams were dispatched to conduct driving assignments, while the search manager hastily put together an initial response plan from the back of a pickup truck. Just as the Comm Van arrived on site, the call came that the woman had been found safe.
The Search and Rescue Member of the Year goes to that person who best exemplifies the commitment to the SAR Mission. The SAR program has a philosophy that drives the program. This is best stated as “Mission over Me.” The foundation of this motto states that all decisions and actions our members perform are for the SAR mission and the Office of the Sheriff first. Individual consideration comes second to the mission.
It’s like a broken record to say that trying to narrow down a group of 200 to the individual who contributed most is tough. Precisely for that reason, we have also recognized two SAR Members of the Year for 2011: John Banuelos and Chris Nichols. John’s contributions to the team over the past year have been outstanding. John was promoted to the Admin Lieutenant on the Command Staff this year. One of his many talents is producing spreadsheets that rank team members’ training participation, search responses, etc. He produces multi-page spreadsheets of data. One thing is consistent with these reports; John always ranks #1 in every category. I mentioned this in my speech at the banquet, and on Monday morning the Muir Station Commander was in my office asking if John could develop a spreadsheet for tracking staffing levels throughout patrol (Sorry John).
John was an incredible asset in shepherding our latest academy through their training, constantly counseling them, and shaping their mindset to excel on this team.
John contributed over 1200 hours of service to the SAR team in 2011. He participated in multiple resources, and responded to almost every search callout. His integrity and commitment are widely recognized. His dedication to the mission, exemplary service and ability to put up with the full-time staff has earned him multiple nicknames, but his latest moniker is one he truly earned: SAR Member of the Year.
Chris earned this recognition for his contributions in 2011, and more importantly, for his body of work throughout his SAR career. He is a high speed, low drag operator, and a proven leader. He does not seek recognition for his actions. He truly is a “mission over me” member.
Chris is the Operations Lieutenant on the SAR team. In that capacity he has the responsibility of managing all operational aspects of the program—no small task in a group this size. His leadership and communications skills make him an incredible asset to the team. He has outstanding management and incident command talents which separate him from most search managers in any program.
In addition to his SAR duties, Chris is a Reserve Deputy, and in 2011 contributed over 600 hours to the Office of the Sheriff. Congratulations to this year’s two SAR Members of the Year, Chris Nichols and John Banuelos.
The Rookie of the Year award goes to the member who has provided the most outstanding service in their first full year with the team. This decision was especially difficult, since the SAR staff nominated 11 different worthy members. In 2010, two SAR academies were conducted, and each gave us a great new pool of rookies who were talented and committed. With that in mind, we recognized two people—one from each of the two academies. Both individuals hit the ground running and made incredible contributions to the success of the program.
Andy and Tim are very well known on the team for the huge contributions they both have made over the past year. They have quickly risen in the ranks and taken on huge responsibilities to continue the growth and evolution of the team.
Friday, February 10. Missing Man in Crockett
On a day set aside for a full-team training, CoCo SAR instead spent the day searching for a 66-year-old male who had been missing for two weeks. The man, thought to be despondent, had left his home January 26 th and had not been seen since. In addition to Sheriff’s deputies and volunteers, friends and family had already canvassed the area without locating the subject. The Hasty Squad met Friday night to organize, review maps, and write up detailed plans for a final, thorough search.
The command post was on site early Saturday morning, ready to send out field teams as soon as the first of 125 searchers arrived for the day. Two divisions were used in this search—one to manage the north side of San Pablo Avenue, and the other to manage the south side. Field teams scoured hillsides, neighborhoods, train tracks and the water’s edge. The subject was found deceased just as the search was about to conclude. Team members helped extricate the body and perform the carryout for the Coroner.