Search & Rescue Teams Convene in Ellensburg - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Search & Rescue Teams Convene in Ellensburg

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ELLENSBURG, Wash.--Around 6,000 people in the State of Washington volunteer their time and energy searching for missing hikers, snowmobilers, and others who may find themselves lost.

"If we start getting together at conferences than we don't have to worry about two o'clock in the morning, hey I know you, I know you, let's do this," said Grant Smith, a Pierce County Volunteer and the Search and Rescue Conference Coordinator. "We can get this together, and we can get the leaders together and preplan."

"This is why I come here, it's kind of cross pollination," said Chris Young, a Search and Rescue Instructor from California. "It's being able to learn, okay well how does Washington do it? How do we do it in California? And then the differences."

This is the state's 44th Search and Rescue Conference. Volunteers brought their dogs, horses and ATV's to sharpen their ground search skills.

"The whole idea here is we're here to save lives, and my goal is to get people trained so that when they go out there, they're efficient in how they manage the searches and how they make the use of resources," said Young.

Members of search and rescue teams said they depend heavily on these volunteers.

"There's no way any legal agency could pay for the cost of a search and rescue in itself," said Smith.

"We average about 40 to 60 missions a year, but that does not include the missions that the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office, they take care of a lot of those before we even go out," said Jim Nale, the Kittitas County Search and Rescue Chair.

The training ends this weekend with a mass casualty drill on Sunday.