From Sept. 7 through 9, El Dorado County’s Coloma Resort was host to the annual Northern California Search and Rescue Exercise, or SAREX, sponsored by the California Emergency Management Agency.
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“We had 400-plus registrants from all over California,” said Carol Steinbrecher, spokeswoman for the event. The event was comprised of 65 classes and exercises, including swift water training, where 24 people were certified over the three days of classes; hazardous materials awareness; booby traps; searching during the night; working with a rescue canine; searching for people with autism; behaviors of a lost person; how to handle medical emergencies; and many more.
Three members of EDSO SAR took the three-day swift water class, Steinbrecher said. It was the first time such a class had been offered at SAREX. The class was made possible by working with the organizations that put it on, she said, which made the class fee only $100 per person. “Outside of SAREX, the class would be between $500 and $750,” she said.
Technology was another focus of SAREX, Steinbrecher said, with classes for SAR teams on how to keep up to date with GPS technology and how to triangulate cell phone signals.
SAREX is put on each year by Cal-EMA, alternating between Northern California and Southern California. This year, El Dorado County was picked as the location and the event was “all done by volunteers from Search and Rescue of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office,” she said. Sacramento and Amador counties also helped. “Cal-EMA was amazed that it was only volunteers,” Steinbrecher said.
Local businesses donated gifts and raffle prizes to help offset the cost, she said. Proceeds go to fund Search and Rescue, with unfinalized numbers of about $2,000 in proceeds this year.
Previous venues during the 30-year history of SAREX include Treasure Island in San Francisco, Hume Lake in Fresno County, Henderson Park in Snelling and Donner Memorial State Park in Truckee.
Steinbrecher said this SAREX was beneficial and met with acclaim.
“It was extremely successful,” Steinbrecher said. “We were asked by participants and agencies to put it on again.”