Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Search and Rescue Team Organized ‘to Save Lives'

Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart and Steve Rutherford, Sequoyah County Emergency Management director, on Tuesday (Feb. 23) have agreed with a local rancher and Army veteran to organize a Mounted Search and Rescue Team.

Lockhart said, “We’ve been talking about this for about three months. Horses can go places others cannot.”

Lockhart said Granville “Mac” Moad (pictured above) is organizing the mounted patrol.

“They are just now forming teams. Maybe they will be organized by the spring,” Lockhart said.

Organizer Moad said Wednesday, “We’ve already got 16 volunteers, with a wide variety of experience. We will have all the tools the team will need.”

The volunteer group includes both men and women, who are law enforcement officers, a farrier, a psychologist, EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, mounted shooters, a registered nurse, and others.

Moad is himself experienced. He served in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 2000 and is now a tactics and weapons specialist instructor for the DOE.

He also has a ranch between Muldrow and Roland where he keeps 13 horses – Quarter Horses, a Tennessee walker and some mustangs.

Moad said the training of both horse and rider is important. The volunteers, who must have their own horses and trailers, will undergo 80 hours of training, along with their horses. The horses themselves must be desensitized to the hubbub that may go along with a search and rescue a mission, as well as a good trail horse.

“The horses must be sound, used to the commotion and not spook,” Moad said.

Moad hopes the training can begin in a couple weeks. The volunteers, he said, “Are excited about the course.”

Moad explained he hopes to take all the volunteers to Dwight Mission, northwest of Sallisaw, in a couple of weeks where there are abundant trails. There the volunteers will meet and get to know one another. They will go on trail rides and just talk, Moad said. The day will give Moad a chance to evaluate the volunteers and their horses. They will next get the course outline.

“I want everyone to get to know each other and we will start the course the next day,” Moad said.

The 80-hour course will be taught over six days and over several weeks, he said. Hopefully, the mounted search and rescue team will be ready for operations by mid spring. Moad said the team won’t be limited to Sequoyah County, but will go wherever needed. He said there are only one or two mounted search and rescue teams in the state, and too far from eastern Oklahoma to offer assistance quickly.

The course will include instruction on land navigation, terrain association and map reading, field emergency response, incident command center operation, tracking, scene preservation and, of course, horsemanship. Moad said he will also work with and train the horses if needed.

Moad said volunteers must also be CPR and First Aid certified. Both courses are often offered free of charge by organizations, schools and hospitals.

At the end of the course, the new search and rescue team will participate in a mock search and rescue mission to find a missing person.

“It ought to be a pretty stout team,” Moad said of the volunteers. But there is a need for that, since the county has not had a mounted search and rescue team since the 1980s. The need for search and rescue is simple.

“It’s to save lives,” Moad said.

Anyone who wishes to volunteer for the team may contact Moad at 479-353-2159 or the sheriff’s office at 918-775-1213.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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