As of Wednesday, July 3, the Adair County Search and Rescue ceased operations.
In a letter addressed to the fiscal court and the citizens of Adair County from the board of Adair County SAR, the reasons for the dissolution were due to lack of participation, changes in community support and inability to meet the needs of the county.
Mike Keltner, board member of the Adair County SAR and the Adair County Emergency Management Director, answered questions revolving around the closing of the department, as well as the future for search and rescue efforts needed in the community.
Keltner first explained that all emergency departments in the area, including SAR, have been working together on the duties of SAR for years.
“Most of all the technical rescue stuff was already being done by other agencies,” said Keltner. “As far as ground search and rescue, the Search and Rescue would come in on the technical rescue side, but they assisted other agencies. The only thing they would do on their own was assisted with traffic control and storm cleanup, but the fire departments would do that, too.”
This eases the worry that the services offered by SAR will not continue.
In fact, some involved SAR members are even applying to become members of local fire departments so that they can be of service.
“We’re not necessarily losing people, they just might be going into different roles,” said Keltner.
The continuation of services elsewhere, combined with the fact that there was a lack of involved volunteers on the SAR team, led the board to the decision that they made.
“Everybody has been working together, but Search and Rescue hasn’t been able to keep up enough to keep it going,” said Keltner. “The numbers haven’t been there – it’s not a new thing. It’s not dwindled off this month, it’s been for a while. If you don’t have enough volunteers that are available, then you’re limited.”
SAR has attempted to gain more members, but efforts weren’t successful.
“That’s a nationwide thing — that volunteers are falling off. It’s not just here,” said Keltner. “I think having trouble getting volunteers was one of the major things.”
As for finances, the department made what they had work.
SAR had an annual agreement with the fiscal court, which is where they received around $2,500 and had insurance paid for.
The building, equipment and trucks used by SAR are owned by the county and will remain in the county’s name, and Keltner believes that equipment and trucks will end up going to wherever it will be put to use and best benefit the county.
By Anna Buckman