I just spent most of the wee hours helping organize a call-out, as MASAR Duty Officer. There was a search on, at the Bangor City Forest, which sounds like a park or arboretum, but in the routine nature of Maine is actually a small wilderness area, which itself backs on to bigger areas of privately owned wildland.
Our own team was called out, and six Unity students responded this morning. They arrived at the command post just in time to be told that the victim had been located alive.
(I don't have any more details and in fact we are not supposed to post details of Maine searches and rescues on our own team blogs.)
Students that haven't been on a call-out before may be disappointed to be turned around and sent home before they get to go search the woods, but this is in fact the best possible kind of outcome, or one of them:
a) The victim or subject is ALIVE! Need I say more?
b) No more searchers need to be sent out, meaning our searchers are now also safer and less likely to be hurt or injured and can be sent back to their own lives.
I'm always pleased by the responses I get as Duty Officer whenever I have to organize a call-out. I get to call people all over the state and in ones and twos and threes and fours, they get out of beds or up from in front of the TV and start making their way to the incident command post.
Horses and four-wheelers are trailered up for the ride and search dogs are made to climb into cages and kennels placed in the back of SUVs. Bags are packed or grabbed off the shelf, radios and GPS units are grabbed. On big call-outs, and this one was moderately big, scores of people then begin driving, sometimes long, long drives, all leaving their lives for the duration, and making their way to the call-out.
As a veteran, this kind of thing is important to me.
I need to feel like I belong in a society where public service is respected and honored, and where people are willing to contribute their time and energy to the greater good, or, in this case, to come to the aid of someone they don't know in a community far away.
And I get to sit by the phone, as Duty Officer, and help make this small miracle of volunteerism and public service happen.
What an honor.