Eight persons, one only 13 years old, received certificates at graduation ceremonies on May 26, and are the first members of the new Sequoyah County Mounted Search and Rescue Team.
Team Leader Mac Moad said, “I’m very proud of these guys. I have confidence in them.”
The newly-certified team members are Ray Jiles, Veva Jiles, Timothy Burmaster, Stephanie Eastwood, Greg Cluck, Oryann Sutterfield who is 13, Christopher Barker and Kelly Moad, the team leader’s wife.
Moad, who is the team organizer and called the commander by team members, suggested the search and rescue team to Sheriff Ron Lockhart and Steve Rutherford, Sequoyah County Emergency Management director. Both approved the team, and both spoke at the graduation ceremonies along with Charles House, under-sheriff.
The graduates received certificates, matching polo shirts featuring the team’s logo, and matching saddle blankets which are on order.
Moad said the team can be called up for assistance by the sheriff, emergency manager or any official needing help finding someone. Moad will activate the team when asked by officials. He said the team is trained to go into places where others can’t, especially in back country.
The team’s final test was on April 23 and 24 when they were to find a person “in rugged country.” The team did itself proud, Moad said, and found the person in two and a half hours.
The training to do so includes an obstacle course for both the team member and his or her horse, classroom instruction and course work, field work, and learning CPR and first aid for both adults and children. The training covers 25 areas, Moad said.
The team will also make special appearances, such as in parades if requested. But, Moad said, “The team is about saving lives.”
Moad said he already has another week-long training scheduled for Aug. 21 through 27, and about 15 people have signed up for the course. Anyone interested in taking the course may contact Moad at 479-353-2159, or by visiting the team’s Facebook page.
In addition, Moad said he has been contacted to help set up search and rescue teams for other communities and counties.
“I’ll help as much as I can,” he said.
About the Sequoyah County team, Moad concluded, “It’s a good strong team that everyone should be proud of.”
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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