Search and Rescue to hold fundraiser around western Nevada County on Saturday |

Search and Rescue to hold fundraiser around western Nevada County on Saturday

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union

Know & Go

What: “Stuff the Pack” fundraiser for the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office volunteer Search and Rescue team

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Pine Creek Center, Fowler Center, SaveMart, Gold Country Center, SPD Markets, Kmart, Rite Aid, Grocery Outlet, and CVS in the south county.

If you’re going to meet a member of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team, let’s hope it occurs Saturday at a shopping center and not when you’re lost in the wilderness.

The local search and rescue unit ( will host a “Stuff the Pack” fundraiser at various shopping spots Saturday. The majority of the unit’s $60,000 annual budget comes from its two “Stuff the Pack” fundraisers: one held in Truckee in February, and the other in western Nevada County Saturday.

“The two fundraisers we hold each year are so important to the continued operation of our team, because they provide 98 percent of our funds for equipment, training and support,” said volunteer coordinator Del Clement.

Members will accept, cash, checks and credit card payments that are deposited directly into the nonprofit’s bank account. Organizers hope to raise at least $30,000 Saturday. February’s event in Truckee raised about $26,000.

In addition to raising money, Saturday’s event will also raise awareness.

“Interfacing with the public gives us the chance to do preventive search and rescue work,” said Jerry Weidler, who serves as the liaison between the sheriff’s office and the all-volunteer search and rescue team. “We explain what types of calls we go on and how to prevent them, and teach people how to be better prepared. We explain what to do if they get lost.

“Our 125 members donate their time and talent to save lives,” continued Weidler. “We average 25,000 hours each year that we donate to the community and help people in their time of need.”

The organization, regarded as one of the premier search and rescue teams in Northern California, invests nearly $5,000 each year in training for existing and new members.

“We provide training to all our members, including CPR, first aid, wilderness survival, and search tactics, and we provide all that in-house,” said Weidler. “We provide uniforms for all our members. Most importantly, the fundraiser allows us to continually update our equipment.”

“Recent fundraisers have helped pay for four utility vehicles, plus trailers and tracks for them,” said Clement. “We’ve used over $100,000 of the funds we’ve raised to install a radio communications system throughout the county that provides safety for our members and improves the efficiency of our searches, which leads to quicker recoveries.”

The search and rescue team, founded in 1983 and reorganized in 1989, responds to mutual aid requests from nearby counties in addition to staffing missions to rescue local residents. The unit is comprised of various teams with special skills.

“Everyone is a ground pounder,” said Weidler. “In addition, we have a canine team, evidence, ropes, crisis, mounted, motorcycle, nordic, incident command and fire teams.

“We also have a ‘Hasty Team’ comprised of 10 members with advanced skill levels who respond directly to a scene,” explained Weidler. “We don’t wait to assemble an entire team and caravan somewhere. The ‘Hasty Team’ goes immediately to the scene of any life-threatening emergency, conducts interviews, and ascertains the direction of travel, if possible.”

In addition to boots on the ground, today’s search and rescue missions use ever-evolving technology.

“We’ve invested in technology to help us plan and execute searches, including a computerized mapping program and radio logging so we can better keep track of what is happening with search teams in the field,” said Clement. “If we could generate more funding, there is equipment that would further increase our capabilities such as a snowcat, unmanned aerial vehicle and more. We will also soon need to replace of some our equipment and tools as they have reached their useful life.”

Clement, who has been active with the search and rescue unit for 18 years, asks locals to help the Search and Rescue team help them.

“We ask that members of the community turn out and drop by each of the major shopping areas in this part of the county and stuff our packs with much-needed funds,” said Clement. “Talk with our members, learn what we do, and meet some of our members, dogs and horses. In addition, please support the merchants who have graciously allowed us to fund-raise at their locations.”

In addition to donations, the team also welcomes new volunteers. Meetings are held at the Rood Center in the Board of Supervisors’ Chamber the first Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m.

LorraineJewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at

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