Rescue in the air, land and waterPublished 8:20pm Thursday, February 14, 2013
Helicopters with spotlights; boats searching the river in grids, teams of dogs on land and water. If you happen to be anywhere near Camp Bonner North Boy Scout Camp near Pamlico Plantation or Goose Creek State Park this weekend, don’t be surprised to see search and rescue personnel out in full force.
No one is missing, though. It’s training time.
Starting today, Beaufort County Emergency Services hosts the annual training organized by the North Carolina Canine Emergency Response Team for the 13th year running. Taking part in the exercises are volunteers from three states: man-tracking teams, canine scent-tracking teams, canine cadaver teams, mounted equine search and rescue teams, waterborne search teams, dive teams from Bath, Bunyon and Sidney, Coast Guard personnel from Hobucken, as well as the North Carolina State Highway Patrol’s helicopter search team.
“These are the teams, the closest teams, that I would call first if I had to do a search,” said John Pack, Beaufort County Emergency Services coordinator.
Pack said residents can expect to see land, water and air searches over the weekend, including low-flying helicopter exercises between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturday night.
He explained that the low-altitude, night flights are necessary for helicopter search teams to practice a challenging task: directing ground troops to a specific target from the air.
“We’ve got to train with all these different people, so if the time comes when we need them, we all know what to expect,” Pack said.
Train with people, and animals, too. Pack said he’s looking forward to seeing the horse teams in action.
“The individuals on the horses had to complete their man-tracking course. The horses had to do so much time on the trails,” he said. “This is the first time the horse and rider will be used as a team. It’s going to be a great thing for them, a great thing for us. It’s a big thing because they can cover a lot of ground.”
Pack said the teams are made up of volunteers who have completed the necessary certifications and have a passion for rescue work — people who have fulltime jobs, but make the time when needed.
“These are the people who step up to get the job done,” Pack said.