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Session set for Champaign County search-rescue team on Astini News

URBANA — Citizens interested in helping the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency and the Champaign County sheriff's office set up a formal search and rescue team are encouraged to attend an informational session Thursday night.

EMA Director John Carlson said the meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) building, 1701 E. Main St., U, and is expected to take one hour.

"It's a capability that Champaign County has been lacking. Both the sheriff's office and EMA feel a volunteer team that could assist law enforcement in search and rescue is a capability we should have," said Carlson.

At Thursday's orientation, potential volunteers will get an overview of what EMA and the sheriff's office are looking for and will hear from a couple of members of the Douglas County search and rescue team.

Primarily, Carlson said, EMA and the sheriff are looking for ground searchers and hope to be able to add a small unit of horse people later. They are not looking for people with tracking dogs, as the plan is to use only law enforcement canines.

"We are looking for people who are willing to give up their time to participate in the training, who are willing and available to be called out when an incident occurs. We do need people with a variety of skills such as communication, administrative, who could work in a search command post. Anyone who has any previous search and rescue or previous military experience would be at an advantage," Carlson said.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age but there is no upper age limit on who can volunteer. Participants will be subjected to a background check by the sheriff's office, Carlson said.

Carlson said EMA anticipates doing several training sessions in the fall, primarily on weekends. One of the first is planned for October at Homer Lake.

Anyone with questions is encouraged to attend the Thursday session, but also could call Carlson at the EMA office at 384-3826.

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