Monday, August 24, 2020

Mounted Search-and-Rescue Team Welcomes Five New Graduates

Back (l to r) SCMSR Commander Mac Moad and SCEM Director Steve Rutherford
Front (l to r) Jodi Webb, Kambria Leffers, Jayden Simmers, Anjelica Carter Philpot and Mark Taylor

The Sequoyah County Mounted Search and Rescue Team added five new members during a special graduation ceremony Aug. 18, said Steve Rutherford, director of Sequoyah County Emergency Management.

The five graduating members are Jodi Webb, Kambria Leffers, Jayden Simmers, Anjelica Carter Philpot and Mark Taylor.

The mounted team is sponsored by the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Department, Sequoyah County Emergency Management and the Cherokee Nation.

“They are called upon for many different reasons, including but not limited to missing persons, runaways and body recovery,” Rutherford said. The mounted team has been used in many different situations and the group is “always willing and eager to carry out their assignments,” he said.

Rutherford said the team is not only involved in searches in Sequoyah County but is available to provide assistance around the region. The team has been used in many different counties in the area, and even in Arkansas, Rutherford said.

“This team is very efficient and very well trained,” Rutherford said. “It’s neat to have them.”

Mac Moad, the group’s commander and trainer, said there are currently 33 certified members on the team -- and 39 certified horses -- who help with searches and other terrain-type services.

Prospective team members are trained in searching, safety, laws and many other related topics. The final part of their training includes an overnight search for a “lost” person (played by a citizen volunteer), which is an overnight exercise. On the last training mission, recruits are required to stay out in the field for 24 hours in search of their “victim.” Moad said the prospective team members sleep in the field “like old cowboys,” then wake up the next morning and continue the search.

“We won’t let them come back until they find their target,” Moad said, while noting that the prospects aren’t totally alone in the woods during the mock search. Rather, they are shadowed by a second team of certified members.

Moad said the search-and-rescue course is held once a year and consists of 70 hours of training. Applicants must pass a background check and horses must be certified. Moad’s current team is “about 50-50” men and women, he said.

Anyone interested in the course can contact Rutherford at (918) 775-1216 or go to the team’s Facebook page.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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