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Rockingham-Augusta Search and Rescue

Bridgewater, VA

Amount Requested: $3,500 for Rescue Equipment Upgrade

Mission: RASAR is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to assisting local law enforcement and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management with search and rescue operations. We work primarily on missing and lost person searches, but can also be called to assist with downed aircraft searches, evidence recovery, and rescue operations. We are often called to serve the most vulnerable members of our community, including children, those with mental health issues and the elderly. We are committed to educating the public, especially youth and law enforcement/rescue organizations, about what we do and how to be prepared for wilderness survival.  Most recently, we have participated in the Staunton-Augusta YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day and made a special presentation to students at South River Elementary School in Grottoes.

Constituents Served: RASAR’s services are available to all residents and law enforcement organizations in Rockingham, Augusta, Nelson and Highland Counties as well as the surrounding areas. RASAR responded to 15 searches in the past year.  The demographic distribution of our searches has remained fairly constant over the past three years: 45% are elderly people with some form of dementia; 25% are adults that are lost, despondent or have some other medical/mental health issue; 20% are teens/adolescents who are lost/missing; and 10% are children who are lost/missing. The bulk of our searches (almost 90%) involve a subject with a medical/mental health issue or someone who has been the victim of suspected foul play.

Program Overview: When search and rescue groups are called out for a missing person search, we undertake two separate tasks: searching for the subject and, if necessary, evacuating the person once found. People who are missing in wilderness conditions are often found dehydrated, hypothermic, or physically injured. Members of a search and rescue team are often the first on scene, and are responsible for stabilizing and extracting the subject safely. This requires teams like RASAR to have modern rescue equipment and supplies on hand. Currently, the basket and other rescue equipment we use is about 20 years old, and well past due for replacement. We will use our new equipment for both training and rescue missions. RASAR is seeking support for the purchase and upgrade of our outdated rescue equipment. This will include primarily a new litter, which is used to carry an injured subject out of the forest or other area difficult to access, and to a rescue vehicle. Additional rescue equipment needed includes webbing (used to secure a patient in the litter), helmets (to protect both rescuers and the patient during extraction), and a “jump bag” with basic medical equipment.

RASAR relies solely on contributions and in-kind donations to cover operating expenses and equipment purchases. Our all-volunteer team pays for their own personal search and rescue gear, uniform, and clothing.

Current Operating Budget: $3,100

Program Budget: $3,500

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