Marin, Calif., to Hold Statewide Search-and-Rescue Exercise

The event will include training in areas such as rope rescues, off-road vehicles, crisis management, drone use, aerial searches, GPS tracking and search operations with horses and dogs.

by The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif. / May 13, 2019

(TNS) — Hundreds of rescue specialists will visit West Marin this fall for an annual statewide training exercise and conference.

The search-and-rescue exercise, known as SAREX, will be held at Walker Creek Ranch from Oct. 4 to 6. The event will be the first SAREX to take place in Marin, said Mike St. John, leader of the Marin County sheriff’s SAR Unit.

St. John said he expects 350 to 400 rescuers from around the state to participate in this year’s program. Last year, the event was held at Lake Tahoe Community College in El Dorado County.

“It allows us to collaborate and learn from recent major incidents to be better prepared for the next one,” said St. John, a retired battalion chief for the Mill Valley Fire Department.

The event will include training in areas such as rope rescues, off-road vehicles, crisis management, drone use, aerial searches, GPS tracking and search operations with horses and dogs.

The keynote speaker will be Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea, a central figure in disaster response in recent years because of the Camp Fire and the Oroville Dam crisis.

No public events are scheduled.

Walker Creek Ranch is operated by the Marin County Office of Education. The 1,700-acre campus is generally used for outdoor education programs, but it is also rented out as a conference center during weekends and slack periods, said Ken Lippi, assistant superintendent.

“Typically we host approximately 90 different conference groups a year,” Lippi said.

The costs are in flux because the attendance is still undetermined, but the county education office stands to collect tens of thousands of dollars from the event. A rate sheet for lodging and meal options ranges from $144 to $311 per person for the weekend.

The participants’ costs are being offset by sheriff’s department funds and a $10,000 sponsorship by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Additional sponsors can contact St. John by email at mike@marinsar.org.

Vendor information is available at sarex2019.org.

The annual SAREX events, sponsored by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, started in the 1980s.

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©2019 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)

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