Tonight was the first official meeting of Red Rock Search and Rescue. It was held at the meeting room at the Boca Park REI and was split in to two sessions to accommodate the over 55 people in attendance. Commander David Cummings introduced the crowd to the reason for the existence of the group and what he hoped the organization could contribute to the community.
Important to Cummings was that the attendees understood that the group was born out of the recent search efforts to find missing hiker Ron Kirk. An intense search to find Kirk was conducted by Metro SAR, but after no signs of the missing hiker an with constraints on resources, the search was brought to an end. But local hikers and outdoor enthusiasts were not ready to quit.
Hundreds if volunteers, organized by Cummings and Vice Commander Dana Richardson gave birth to the idea that there could be a support SAR that would be all volunteer and highly trained to assist law enforcement in search efforts in Clark County. All that lead to tonight’s meeting.
Attendees learned about what Cummings referred to as The Good the Bad and the Ugly of SAR. They were also informed of the multiple levels of volunteers the group aspires to attract. They already have highly trained staff members on their Admin panel consisting of Metro trained Richardson, communications specialist, accountant, PIO, a paramedic as the Medical Officer, and a FEMA trained and SAR qualified trainer as well.
This group will also have a technical rescue team lead by Richardson known as the A team. All members will obtain certifications in order to be as qualified and prepared to conduct searches in a variety of conditions.
Anyone who wants to be a part of this effort will be accepted. There will be work to do for persons of all levels and will utilize their skills accordingly. Go to the RED ROCK SEARCH AND RESCUE page for more information and to sign up to be a part of this great cause in Clark County.
Today my outing was not focused on the prep for the trek. It was far more important than my quest for personal accomplishment. Today I went out with Red Rock Search and Rescue to try to help find Ron Kirk. I don’t know him personally. But when you hike the Red Rocks and hear of someone who does not come out, you cannot help but want to do your part to help find him. Bring him to his family. So at 6 AM this morning, Jim Smyth picked me up and off we went to the command center outside Calico Hills to help.
One time, when I was 8, I helped look for two missing children at my grandfathers resort at Baker Lake, Washington. They sent us kids out on all our trails through the woods to see if we could find where they might have gone. Maybe they fell. Maybe they are just lost. Sadly, it was later the two youngsters were found in the lake. It was devastating to my grandfather to think that his rustic fishing resort had been the source of such pain for this family. It was my first encounter with observing, and to a limited extent, being a part of the real time events surrounding such a loss.
It was a cold and breezy sunrise as Jim and I arrived. We were greeted by a motor home that had prepared a spread of food and hot beverages for all the volunteers. We were broken up into groups and I was in the day hiker group. There were Class 3 and Class 4 climbers that would be assigned more difficult terrain. So off we went to the flats between the road to Calico Hills and the model airplane strip. We were to scour the underbrush, look for any sign of Ron…in any condition.
The land I covered was flat with washes meandering circuitously through the extent of our section. We were led by an ol’ army guy named Pigeon. He had us fan out and just beat the brush. I was worried that I might miss something. What if I was looking to the left, and there was something on the right. What if I got distracted. I had not done this sort of grid thing ever before, though I had seen it a few times in rescue news reels.
It struck me how beautiful Red Rock is. How quiet. How the sound of the voice of a bike rider out on the road carries in to where I was and sounded just as if that rider were talking directly to me. I also thought of Darrell Kirk, Ron’s brother. Darrell was in the position just next to me for most of the day. He had traveled here from Seattle. And though unspoken between us, the fear and pain and anxiety of not knowing where his brother is was palpable. My heart cried out for him and I so wanted that miracle to happen today.
Red Rock Search and Rescue is new. It is all volunteer, and it was the result of Ron going missing. We need to have an organized group of volunteers who are ready, willing, and able to assist in these kinds of events. We owe it to each other to try to do what we can. We cannot leave it up to the limited resources of law enforcement. But we can assemble, train and dedicate ourselves to being there to assist law enforcement so that when something as tragic as this happens, families of missing people will know they can get help to find their loved one. I was glad to be there and to give time to the Kirk family today. I will try to do this as often as I can until he is found.
If you have any idea what happened to Ron, please contact his Brother Darrell at the number listed in the second photograph in this post. If you can help look, find Red Rock Search and Rescue on Facebook.
Darrell Kirk was thanking a man who was leaving the search. He told the man how much his taking his time to be there and to help search made this whole ordeal more bearable. I cannot imagine being Darrell or any of the rest of his family right now.