Search and Rescue holds training for new recruits

EUGENE, Ore. -- Exploring the forests and natural bounty of the Pacific Northwest is what draws many people to our region. For when those adventures take a turn for the worse, the volunteers working with the Lane County Search and Rescue teams are ready to help.

On Saturday, search and rescue held a recruit training session near Mt. Pisgah where seasoned volunteers helped pass on their knowledge to the newer members.

If you're lost in the woods around Lane County, Randy Huntoon is probably going to help out with the search.

"They go too far and they run out of daylight head off into the woods and just can't find their way back. That's when they call us," said Huntoon.

The volunteer search and rescue teams are the first responders when someone is reported missing in the woods in our area.

For Randy, the job is all about reuniting the lost with their loved ones.

"We've had our searches where we end up just finding a body ... it's good closure," said Huntoon.

John Miller is the search coordinator with Lane County Sheriff's Office and headed up the recruit class at Buford Park.

"We're practicing navigation skills using compasses and GPS," Miller said. "There may only be four or five points on this but it takes them an hour an hour and a half to navigate this whole system."

While it does take some time to find the coordinates on Miller's test course, the skills learned will give volunteers a sample of what is needed to find someone in the middle of nowhere.

The recruits will train for 100 hours over a seven-week period before venturing out on real-world rescues.

As search and rescue coordinator, Miller said that he works with the team almost every other day to find someone who gets lost in the woods.

"Every year we get literally hundreds of people lost and are needing our assistance, (they) get a little turned around on a trail and come back on a different one," said Miller.

Randy Huntoon said he was called out for a search on Friday.

"We had one last night. We had a search, a mom and a couple kids," said Huntoon.

Miller helped coordinate the effort that helped find the family, and another group of lost people in the process.

"To not only find them but to assist some other people that went out looking for them and got in a similar situation," Miller said.

He added that every volunteer involved in that search went through a similar training program.