Search and rescue team prepares for emergencies

ESCANABA — The Delta County Search and Rescue (DCSAR) team has been around since the mid 1980s. The volunteer-based organization has gone from conducting ground searches for missing persons to a technical rescue team trained to handle a multitude of different search and rescue situations.

Mike Markovich, director of DCSAR, said the search and rescue team is a volunteer-based organization, but is a subset of the Delta County Sheriff’s Department.

“So we’re under their jurisdiction, but we don’t technically work for them because we are volunteers,” he said. “There are a couple deputies that are on the team. They volunteer their time, as well — for training and call outs.”

Because the team is affiliated with the sheriff’s department, Liaison Deputy Dan LaCarte actively trains with the team, as well as acting as a go-between with the sheriff’s department.

Markovich said to become a part of the DCSAR team, a background check and application process including an interview is required.

“(They) typically need some outdoor experience, but we certainly do train up to the level that they would need for whichever mission they’re going on,” he said.

The Delta County Search and Rescue team is trained to search for missing persons; assist with the Delta County Sheriff’s Department marine patrol; conduct ice, rope, swift water and flood rescues; and conduct evacuations.

“Law enforcement will typically respond first and then page out search and rescue to conduct the search. We’ve been extensively trained in search techniques, where as law enforcement may have some background in it. They don’t train as much on missing persons as we may,” Markovich said.

He noted many of the missing persons the team is called to help locate are adults or children with disabilities, like autism, or adults with dementia that have walked away from group homes or adult foster cares.

When it comes to finding people, Markovich said the team uses a book called “Lost Person Behavior” as a guide. He explained the book is full of statistics and data on where people are typically found.

“We’ve found it to be really accurate,” he said.

There is also an app the team uses to calculate where a missing person might be found.

Markovich said the team can typically be called to action 30 times a year — sometimes more, sometimes less.

There is a misconception about the search and rescue team that can lead to lost people putting themselves in more danger. Markovich said some people think there is a charge for the team’s services and wait too long to contact them.

“We never charge for rescues, so don’t be afraid to call if you’re in a situation,” he said. He added if a person finds themselves in a situation where they are lost or need rescue, they should call 911 or Delta County Central Dispatch at 906-786-5911.

The Delta County Search and Rescue team also trains with local fire departments, emergency medical services organizations, law enforcement agencies and schools.

Markovich said the group has also started a Hug a Tree program with elementary students and scout groups. The program was created by the parent organization, the National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR).

“It talks about basically staying in one place to increase your chance of being found if lost in the woods,” Markovich said.

The Delta County Search and Rescue team is funded through grants, donations, the group’s own fundraising efforts, and $2,500 a year from the Delta County Sheriff’s Office.


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