Talon News - Good Local News

Pups with a Purpose

Search and Rescue Dogs

 

January 20, 2017

Thomas Hinds

New Mexico Badlands Search and Rescue team at Berg Park with new recruits in training (Linda Johnson in front)

It began on an ordinary day, walking their dogs in the park. Kelly Everett and Linda Johnson were approached by a couple of local police officers about their canine companions. In that conversation, the need for search and rescue handlers and dogs in the area was brought up. Neither of the ladies really believed they would be able to become one, but after doing a little research they found out it was more than an attainable endeavor. So, they began to work on getting certified to be (SAR) search and rescue handlers.

At its inception New Mexico Badlands Search and Rescue were two ladies who were inspired to make a difference in their community. The nonprofit group has continued to grow and now four years later, there are eighteen dogs of various breeds, each having their own specific specialty. Some are trained to find remains, some are trained to find missing persons, alive or deceased, and some are trained to identify individuals in a large crowd of people. The larger the group became the better the result increased, being able to cover a much larger area in a much more efficient way. New Mexico Badlands Search And Rescue is always looking for more volunteers to assist in many differing facets of training and in real time incidents. It is an extremely complex operation, with layers of planning and executing that from the outside would seem to be a controlled chaos. One of the partnering groups is the Royal Lao Airborne Search and Rescue, a well established international organization who's local contact is Guy Mackey (CPT). In coordination with NM Badlands SAR they are attempting to establish a command center locally to help aid in more timely responses and success rate to increase. Time is a huge factor in the success of operations, the sooner they can be on the scene the chances of success greatly increase. Both groups work hand in hand with local and state departments and can actually be dispatched internationally. State wide there are notifications for lost or missing persons every thirty six hours, so there is plenty of demand at a local level.

The group has been assisted by several local businesses while carrying out live operations, from food and beverages being delivered to the command center, to having local volunteer firefighters assisting searches. If anyone is interested in being a part of the team, full time or even on a temporary basis feel free to call Kelly Everett at (505) 436-5673 or Guy Mackey at (505) 360-1182.

Some of the big steps the group has made recently is making a connection with the Shiprock district and having access to helping in SAR on the nearby reservation. The once small operation now sees the impact reaching across both state borders and tribal ones as well. Continuously training in the surrounding wilderness and even in areas of the city such as Berg Park, one of the biggest issues for NMBSAR in how isolated so much of the surrounding area is. Dangerous landscape and extreme conditions can put both handlers and dogs in harms way, which becomes a difficult decision in rescue efforts, doing all they can without danger or injury coming to members or their canines. Talking to each member, you get a sense of how big their hearts are towards bringing resolution to desperate situations, peace of mind to the ones involved and their loved ones as well. Having a happy end to the story isn't always an option but knowing you can find answers to questions does bring a certain form of relief. These souls are the ones behind the scenes putting their wellbeing on the line in hopes of bring a life back from the edge. It is truly a great group of people and amazing dogs working together like a well oiled machine.

 

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