David Schlorer was slated to talk about the Logan County Search and Rescue team to the Kiwanis Club of Booneville last week. He almost didn’t make it because of a search and rescue call.
Schlorer and the Logan County SAR team got a call about 3 a.m. last Tuesday about a missing person from the Dallas area who suffers from dementia.
The woman, who was apparently en route to Fort Smith, Schlorer said, was found in the woods south of Sugar Grove. She was taken to a local hospital to be examined and was expected to be released soon.
Schlorer said the Logan County SAR has been in existence for four to five years and it specializes in searching for missing persons "of a non-criminal matter." There are about 20 members on the SAR — all volunteer — which falls under the Logan County Department of Emergency Management.
Schlorer said it takes about 75 hours of training for "a good level," or that of a team leader and he said about 15 of the local members have reached that designation.
"We learn everything from how to survive in the wilderness with compasses — we don’t use GPS because a lot of places like where we were this morning GPS just doesn’t work," said Schlorer.
Within the SAR are specialty teams such as a dive team and a swift water rescue team, Schlorer said. Another specialty is confined space due to the mine shafts in the Paris area.
"We’ve been called out, literally all over the state of Arkansas," he said. "We have to train all over the state."
The unit was called out during the recent tragedy in Scott County that claimed five lives. Schlorer is also a trainer for other SAR units.
Incidents like the one in Scott County aside, the job is rewarding, Schlorer said.
"It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of training. It’s not just going out in the woods and looking for somebody," said Schlorer.
Even if it doesn’t look like it. A lot of what might be perceived as inactivity may actually be background obtaining communication with family members of a missing person, such as the dementia patient last week when searchers needed to know what time frame or age the missing individual might believe they are living.
The unit doesn’t "advertise," for volunteers Schlorer said, because searches typically don’t need hundreds of people in the woods so that others don’t go missing.
The unit also has access to a K9 unit to assist with searches based on scent, or, in the worst case scenario, a cadaver searching dog.
Schlorer said that the unit responds to 12 to 15 missing persons per year, which includes some kids who have merely frightened parents, rather than gone missing. But that’s okay.
"Every minute counts," he said. "We’d much rather have a false alarm and come home happy than be three hours behind and (have) a lot of walking distance to make up."