Team Commendations, September

Members of the Month-
Sam Barley for his work as the New Members Corporal. Sam stealthily worked in the background but he connected with all applicants, arranged for them to attend team trainings, and then shepherded them throughout the process. Sam did a great job of making the applicants feel welcome and excited about the team.






Pierce Plam for his work on the Callout.Pierce came up with the idea to transfer the Callout to WordPress, helped to set it up, and purchased a domain name. Last month he put the entire issue together in Mark Wilfer’s absence. He has volunteered to do so until Mark Wilfer is available.




Ileane Mankins for her sweat and tears given to create the new fundraising T-shirts. She is responsible for the all the legwork and negotiations that produced the new fund raising t-shirts. Ileane is acknowledged as the one person put in the most sweat and pushed the project to closure. Stated in the nomination, – If it weren’t for Ileane we would still be saying “we should make those t-shirts, we’ve been talking about.”–




Captain’s Commendations
Diane Blue and Wilma Murray will receive Captain Commendations for their hours of work that resulted in 40 students for the 2012 Academy. 
Both individuals spent endless hours in setting up Orientations for interested citizens, processing the applications, getting the Oral Boards staffed and completed, and finally delivering the best of the best to the 2012 Academy. At times people thought they were part of the OES staff given all the time they spent there.

Searcher Spotlight: Ron Huntington

Anyone who is a Facebook friend of Ron Huntington will know that he has a soft spot for barbecue. He has a penchant for posting mouth-watering photographs of his menu du jour, usually featuring some nice slab of meat, perfectly grilled, to the envy of all carnivores.

The good life for him also involves hanging by the ocean and body surfing and he loves to hike. The latter is a good thing, because hiking is a necessity for one of his other “favorite things to do”: volunteer with SAR.

Ron is SoCal born (which might explain the body surfing) but he’s a NorCal guy now, firmly planted in San Ramon with his wife and family. That family currently includes no pets, but he makes up for that with five kids and seven grandkids.

As a self-described “techie,” it’s appropriate that Ron’s degree from DeVry University is in technical management. He uses his capabilities to strengthen his SAR experience and that of others (he’s been known to help at least one fellow SAR member load SAR-related apps and info on her phone, for instance).

Ron joined the SAR team in the “wet year” winter Academy of 2010, thanks to his wife’s prompting. He got right in the groove, becoming Type 2 by the fall and participating in many searches and medical details since then.

“One thing I love about the team is the fact that they (members) will teach you almost everything you need to know to be a successful searcher and first responder,” he says.

As an Eagle Scout, Ron learned the meaning of being prepared. But SAR taught him that “feeding the engine” – staying hydrated and fed – is key to being well prepared for searches. That piece of wisdom he attributes to Dick Danger (aka Rick Najarian).

For more than 10 years, Ron has been a member of the Emergency Response Team at the medical device manufacturer where he works as a quality engineer. Recently, though, it was his SAR medical skills that were put to use when he was the first responder on scene with a stroke victim at the County Fair. While he describes the situation as scary, he was impressed by the team effort that went into helping the subject.

“Fortunately, all that EMR training kicked in and the rest of the team was there to help almost immediately,” he says. “There is nothing like the feeling I get when helping someone. It makes it all worthwhile.”

Perishable Skills Training

Hesitation gets the best of all of us at one point or another. Someone drops to the ground in front of you at the County Fair, how long does it really take for you to be hands on and start helping the person?  The mentally unstable patient in the May Pinole training – how long did it really take you to get her calmed down? You show up early to a callout, exactly what has to be set up in CP, and how?

August’s full team training was a quick paced, action-packed day of training stations focused on the perishable skills we all need to be at the top of our game. Here is a pictoral recap:

The New Fall Class

There is another great group of volunteers stomping around OES in their brand new orange t-shirts. They have already set the declination on their compasses and were told what UTM means. Of the 40 new volunteers,14 are Explorers. Here are some pictures of our newest teammates:


We are a Team

While call outs this past month have been almost non-existent, there has been some incredible work going on.  The biggest team highlight is we started a new SAR Academy this past Tuesday.  There are 40 brand new potential team members that will soon be added to our roster.  Vetting and hiring these people into the academy took a monumental team effort.  Diane Blue and Wilma Murray (SAR Den Mom’s) took the lead in processing and bringing this group in. And a host of other members were integral in this effort.  There were countless members who assisted with oral boards, uniform fitting, new member coaching, and logistics support to pull this effort off.  This was an incredible team effort.  Thanks to all who assisted getting this academy up and running.

Also this past month the team has received some significant positive press.  Because of the SAR team’s incredible commitment, we as an organization sometimes get recognized for our overall accomplishments and contributions to the community.  The team is on a roll lately.  This past week I was informed that the SAR team was given a “Community Hero Award” from the Bay Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.  

The Bay Area American Red Cross wrote:
The nominating committee for the Red Cross, Contra Costa Hero’s Breakfast read the nomination of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Team and selected them as one of our 2012 Contra Costa County Heroes! Their story truly inspired our nominating committee. On behalf of the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, we are pleased to announce that we want to honor them with a Community Service – Organization Hero award. 

Every member played a major role in the team receiving this honor.  The training, preparation and personal capital each and every team member contributes day in and day out is what sets this team apart.  For those interested the Red Cross will be hosting an awards ceremony on October 5th at the San Ramon Country Club.

We don’t do what we do for personal recognition. But when we as a team are recognized for overall achievement we should take pride in this moment.  As a team we work together to maintain a unit that is prepared to do anything we’re asked.  The commitment to the mission and incredible work this team performs is second to none.

The Sheriff’s Office is proud of this organization and appreciates everything you do.



Searcher Spotlight: Erin Field

"As long as I can remember, I've always wanted to save lives," Orinda resident Erin Field says. At 18, her memory doesn't travel back far, but, though young, she has already had a full life of learning to care for others.

When Erin was only 7, her father was diagnosed with lymphoma, which was wrapped around his heart. The prognosis was dire, she says, but the doctors never gave up and soon thereafter it was discovered the cancer had disappeared.

“We still believe it was a miracle,” she says. “But without the doctors, my dad probably wouldn’t be alive today.”

That inspirational experience prompted her to pursue medicine and this fall she begins the pre-nursing program at Cal State East Bay.

Meanwhile, she continues to grow as a SAR member. The medical aspects of SAR are what attracted her, but she has found plenty more to keep her interested. Currently she is choosing to remain an Explorer (they do have fun), but for her second year on the team, she will begin coaching a new Academy student Explorer. It fits with her M.O., which is to connect with others.

“I guess you could say I’m a people person,” she says.

One could, indeed, say that. She enjoys making friends from around the world; in fact, her best friend lives in Germany. In order to converse, she learned German, but she didn’t stop there. She also speaks French, is learning Japanese and Italian, and can understand and communicate in sign language.

In addition to having a wide social life, Erin also has a variety of interests and hobbies. She babysits, draws, sings, dances, plays guitar and flute, acts and likes to “organize” (good for logistics). She’s well acquainted with physical exercise, favoring tennis, swimming, snowboarding, horseback riding, ice skating and a number of team sports. Of course, she also likes to hike and explore, which suits the SAR mold well.

As one who knows from sports what it means, Erin is most impressed with the teamwork aspect of SAR.

“Everyone in SAR plays a big part, whether they’re good at reading maps, talking on radios, hiking in the roughest terrain, or helping someone who’s losing a lot of blood,” Erin says. “Every person contributes something of importance, and when people work together, using their special talents, it’s amazing … I can’t think of one member who is not willing to help or teach a skill that they know to a new person on the team. SAR is a truly incredible organization that I’m lucky to be a part of.”

USAR Lifting and Moving Heavy Objects Training

On August 18th, the USAR team met at the ConFIRE training facility in Concord. They worked on lifting and moving heavy objects which included a concrete cube, several concrete slabs. They also lifted a 600+ lb tube 12-14 inches straight up. No machinery was used. All lifting and cribbing was done with  pry bars, wooden wedges, 2×4's and 4×4's.

There is a great document describing the process in the Docs area of the site. Here is a link to a PDF: RS-1 Module 3-1 Lifting & Moving Heavy Objects


Here is a slideshow of the training: