Certain emergency situations call for a quick response from a
team of highly trained specialists. For the area surrounding Yuma,
Ariz., that quick response comes in the form of a unique team of
Marines and sailors – The Marine Corps Air Station Yuma Search and
In an effort to better understand the protocols
of these military first responders, a group of representatives from
regional entities gathered at MCAS Yuma for a conference hosted by
SAR team members, Feb. 12, 2016.
Maj. Patrick DeGraaf, the Search and Rescue (SAR) officer-in-charge with Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron, leads a discussion at the Sonoran Pueblo banquet hall as part of a SAR conference aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. The MCAS Yuma SAR team hosted a conference with regional emergency services personnel to discuss and better understand tactics, techniques and procedures. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brendan King)
The conference, held at the station Sonoran Pueblo Events
Center and the station SAR hangar, aimed to inform attending
emergency services personnel and organizations of SAR's
capabilities, tactics, techniques, procedures and protocols.
The conference also provided an opportunity to improve
working relationships between local area agencies by
presenting a forum to learn, discuss and better understand
the support SAR can provide.
The majority of
assistance that SAR provides helps support regional
emergencies that demand a set of specialized skills to deal
with the rugged, mountainous and desert terrain.
hope to enhance the interoperability among regional rescue
and emergency response agencies,” said Maj. Patrick DeGraaf,
the SAR officer-in-charge and conference leader.
Emergency calls for assistance typically come from agencies
within SAR's area of operation, extending 100 nautical
miles, and are then routed to an emergency dispatcher. If
law enforcement agents on scene determine that SAR is a
necessary asset, they will call the dispatch center to get
in touch with base operations to request SAR assistance.
Quick response maintainers are always on call to prepare
the aircraft for flight and help the crew get in the sky as
quickly as possible. When the mission declared, SAR sends
out a quick response crew made up of a pilot, co-pilot, crew
chief and corpsman.
Two HH-1N “Huey” helicopters sit on the grounds outside of the Search and Rescue hangar aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. The MCAS Yuma SAR team hosted a conference with regional emergency services personnel to discuss tactics, techniques and procedures. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brendan King)
“Last year, we had 27 calls and rescued over 60 people,”
SAR has the ability to hoist, maneuver
and reach tough spots in the Yuma terrain. They are trained
to utilize first aid kits, stretchers, various braces and
medical equipment needed to stabilize patients in any
“We have military training, which helps more on the tactical
side, because we are able to quickly assess the situation and make a
plan of action,” said DeGraaf.
All SAR unit team members are
emergency medical technician (EMT) certified and are trained to
handle basic life support, cardiac life support, pediatric advanced
life support and trauma immobilization.
“I love seeing the
benefits of my job. All that hard work we put in and all the
qualification courses we've gone through,” said DeGraaf. “All those
nights of flying until midnight, wearing myself out, just to get
better at my job – all of it is so you can hear that the patient you
dropped off at the hospital has made a full recovery.”
“Seeing how thankful these individuals are for going out and getting
them. It really makes you feel good about your job and makes the job
worthwhile,” said DeGraaf. “It makes me look forward to coming in to
work every day.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. George Melendez
The U.S. Marines
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