Nearing his retirement from the Orinda Fire District, Alan Mathews says he sought something to fill the void and keep his mind and body active.
“I thought SAR would be a good fit and keep me working with healthy, active people,” he says. “I haven’t been disappointed.”
Since his college days, Alan has lived the life of a rescuer. At 20, the Walnut Creek native moved to Twain Harte to attend Columbia College where he worked with the school’s fire department. He moved on to Cal Fire as a seasonal firefighter on an engine and heli-tack crew.
Eventually, Alan became an EMT firefighter, and his 30 years of that experience translated well to SAR. He is especially interested in rescue systems, which is a boon to the USAR group. He also teaches first aid and CPR.
While physically active—biking, running, hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, crosscountry skiing, and fly-fishing—Alan says he lives, “a quiet and simple life.” He and his wife Denise have three grown kids, a dog, and two cats. He and his sons are working at covering the entire John Muir trail, having taken on about a quarter of it so far. He’s also trying to hit all the trails and fire roads on Mount Diablo, but otherwise he doesn’t venture far from home.
Something about the SAR team that has really stood out to him is how much work so many members do. “I have never seen such a devoted group of people all working together … for no compensation beyond the common good.”