Mission Tempo

Even though our calls for service have been light this past month, the membership continues to train for and execute the mission of the SAR team. For example, this past month, after a long break, we now have two newly certified urban trailing K9’s. Congratulations to Carol O’Neil and Jennifer Wright for their accomplishment with their K9 partners. This is going to pay off handsomely for the team, since we will now be able to deploy trailing dogs much earlier on search missions. 

I also want to thank Diane Blue and Wilma Murray for taking the lead organizing our latest member recruitment drive. They have worked tirelessly through the extended hiring process to bring a new group of volunteers onto the team. This is a tough job and requires a tremendous amount of time and energy. They are the perfect ambassadors for our team and the new recruits. 

There are many other things actively going on across the team. I wish I could mention them all. Even though we recently have not had many callouts for traditional search and rescue missions, we’ve been doing a lot of great things to support the department and community. I’ve often said the many things we do to be mission-ready are not easy, . . . but all of you make it look easy.

When our callout tempo slows, one of the questions I constantly hear is, “It has been really quiet lately, is this normal?” I’ve been around SAR long enough to know this is normal. We have had mission droughts in the past. It happens. The reality is it has been pretty quiet for most teams throughout the State. Just for our team, we went through the whole month of June without a genuine SAR callout. That is extraordinary, but not unheard of. In contrast, we started out the year with a very active operational tempo. It tapered off. It will pick up again.

Another comment I hear when SAR calls dry up is the myth that there's a missing person "season.” The idea that our SAR missions are seasonal in nature doesn’t hold true.  If we were a mountain-based SAR team or located in a tourist destination, we might see a downturn in calls as visitors to our county decreased in the off-season, but Contra Costa is not in these categories. Furthermore, the majority of our in-county calls fall into two categories: criminal evidence searches, and missing persons who are either at-risk dementia patients, or individuals with developmental disabilities. Neither of these categories are affected by the seasons or weather patterns. 

The team's collective dedication to the mission is outstanding. The training and participation of every team member clearly demonstrates that incredible commitment. The staff at OES laughs when I say I want to exercise the “machine” with callouts. The SAR team is a machine, and keeping it oiled through callouts is an important way of ensuring the membership remains active and engaged. The missions will come back, and when they do, we’ll hear, “Wow, it sure is busy!” Then we’ll wish for it to be quiet again. It’s all part of the SAR cycle.

The last old wives' tale I often hear is, "Don’t ever say it’s been quiet.” If that's a true tale, I’m here to say, it’s been way too quiet!

Bring it on. The team is ready.