Search and rescue looking for a few good high schoolers

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  • David Thompson Search and Rescue Junior Unit members Mazzy Hermes and Mikayla Plait flank SAR volunteer Susan Lippert as the three work on setting up a system of ropes and pulleys for raising an injured person up a cliff face during monthly training, May 7. (Benjamin Kibbey/The Western News)

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    David Thompson Search and Rescue volunteer Noah Pyle demonstrates positions a rescuer might use while attending to a patient being extracted up a cliff face during monthly training, May 7 for the SAR Junior Unit, May 7. (Benjamin Kibbey/The Western News)

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    High School senior Caleb Thomas, a member of David Thompson Search and Rescue Junior Unit, belays during a simulation of raising an injured person up a cliff face during monthly training, May 7. (Benjamin Kibbey/The Western News)

  • David Thompson Search and Rescue Junior Unit members Mazzy Hermes and Mikayla Plait flank SAR volunteer Susan Lippert as the three work on setting up a system of ropes and pulleys for raising an injured person up a cliff face during monthly training, May 7. (Benjamin Kibbey/The Western News)

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    David Thompson Search and Rescue volunteer Noah Pyle demonstrates positions a rescuer might use while attending to a patient being extracted up a cliff face during monthly training, May 7 for the SAR Junior Unit, May 7. (Benjamin Kibbey/The Western News)

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    High School senior Caleb Thomas, a member of David Thompson Search and Rescue Junior Unit, belays during a simulation of raising an injured person up a cliff face during monthly training, May 7. (Benjamin Kibbey/The Western News)

With over half of their members graduating high school, the Junior Unit at David Thompson Search and Rescue is looking to get recruitment going.

The group is for high schoolers in 9th through 12th grades, and does have a few restrictions compared to adult members of the search and rescue organization, said Susan Lippert, who oversees the Junior Unit.

But most of those limtitations relate to age restrictions on obtaining qualifications as well as safety and liability, and members still get to go out on calls and get to learn a lot about wilderness survival, rescue and first aid, she said. And they get to learn those things from qualified instructors with years of experience and practical application.

The time commitment is also minimal, with only 40 hours a year required, she said. Yet, with the around 35 runs they do each year and other planned activities — Lippert hopes to have a camping trip for the Junior Unit this summer — there are plenty of opportunities to do more.

Currently the Junior Unit has three members, but sophomore Mazzy Hermes will be the lone member after June.

David Thompson didn’t have a Junior Unit for some time, but the unit was restarted about two years ago, Lippert said.

Hermes and seniors Caleb Thomas and Mikayla Plait all joined up when the unit was reformed.

Since then, they have been having a lot of fun, they agreed.

All three talked about the adrenaline rush of going on an actual call, knowing that they might get to put their training into play in a way that could save someone.

“It was a combination of fear, excitement, joy,” Thomas said. “I’d been training for a very long time, and I just wanted to be able to go out and do something.”

Caleb said he obviously doesn’t want someone to be hurt or in danger, but when someone is, he wants to be able to do something about it.

Plait recalled an incident in her regular life where her first aid training enabled her to help someone rather than just being another bystander.

“Just knowing that anywhere, any situation, that I have the ability to help out — It’s a great feeling,” she said.

There are other activities helping in the community that make being a part of David Thompson fun, Hermes said.

As someone who is interested in eventually going into medicine, takes an interest in the training beyond her immediate involvement in search and rescue, Hermes said.

But, as a member of the ski patrol as well, she has a bit of a pattern for doing things that could help others.

“I’m a social person, and I like getting to meet people and having them trust me,” she said. She talked about the idea of running into someone again in regular life who she had helped, and what it would be like to recognize them as that person.

Both Plait and Hermes said that they have talked to classmates about joining, but the response is often that their peers don’t have the time.

Hermes, who plays multiple sports on top of everything else, said she doesn’t understand that as an excuse.

“People don’t realize how fun it is,” Plait said.

“More people would be awesome,” Hermes said.

The David Thompson SAR Junior Unit meets at the SAR building the first Monday of each month.

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