Searcher Spotlight: Sam Barley



Even the busiest SAR members enjoy some side interests and Sam Barley—when he’s not selling information technology services for Hewlett Packard—pursues his passions. Sam, like many SAR folk, is an outdoorsy guy who likes camping and backpacking. He’s also a budding cheesemaker with a penchant for making his own brie, chevre, and ricotta, and he likes to cure his own meats and fish.

On the sporty side, Sam says he is, “rejuvenating his golf game after decades of neglect,” but his “real passion” is bird hunting.

Though born in Pennsylvania, Sam’s a longtime Contra Costa resident. After studying physiology at UC Davis, he spent four years early in his career in Michigan, but soon returned to California. He now lives with his wife, Nina, two daughters, a cat, and a dog in Walnut Creek.

Sam joined SAR in 2006 and took on another form of hunting—hunting for lost people. While finding and helping a subject is “enormously gratifying,” he also says it’s almost as important to know where the subject is not. “Knowing my team and I have covered a search area with the best Probability of Detection (POD)  we could deliver allows search managers to focus resources on areas with higher probability of finding the subject,” said Sam.

Sam’s career with SAR didn’t begin with the intent of the hunt, however. After 9/11, he said he was looking for a way to help others and be prepared in the event of a disaster. He learned about SAR from a recruiting table at REI and couldn’t wait to join, but he had to wait awhile for the Academy. The delay only built his enthusiasm. Once on the Team, he jumped right into the corporal position of New Members Liaison. As such, he helps translate his enthusiasm for the team to new recruits.

Through this shepherding process, he has learned important lessons about first impressions. “Some members who barely make it through the application and interview process have become SAR stars,” he says. “Others who seemed destined for greatness haven't even made it through the Type III Academy.”

Sam continues his efforts with this year’s recruits, and hopes to keep them as, “interested and engaged as possible.” As should we all.