BROOKSVILLE — Concerns over whether or not Bracken County should have two search and rescue entities were expressed during fiscal court on Wednesday.
A representative from the Bracken County Search and Rescue organization said it has had eight training meetings, 32 organization start up meetings and planning to turn paperwork in to the state within the next month. There are currently 28 members signed up with the organization.
Of the current members, 11 are firefighters.
Training will consist of low angle rescue, still water rescue, traffic control, CPR/first aid and others.
“Our aspirations are to provide the county with trained members, provide rapid response, be in the public eye, fundraising, grants, establish equipment, work with fire departments when requested, work with EMS when requested and with the sheriff’s office or police department and other SAR teams if they request the help,” he said.
According to the representative, some community service projects the organization would work on would include nursing home visits, school visits, the hug a tree program and others.
Bracken County Magistrate David Kelsch said his concern was with having two organizations providing the same services.
The county is currently contracted with the Buffalo Trace Search and Rescue organization.
According to Alex Hyrcza, director of BTSAR, the mission of BTSAR is to search for missing children or elderly who go missing, hikers who get lost or injured, boaters who have accidents and anyone else who needs assistance.
“I think the fiscal court needs to decide, next year, which one we should have,” he said. “We’re obligated with Buffalo Trace this year. I support you all — you all do a fine job. I’m concerned that if you have just one county, you may not have much activity going on as you would with three.”
Magistrate Carl Allen asked why the organizations could not join together.
“I see some of your members are on the other team,” he said. “How will they be on both of these?”
Alex Hyrcza, with the Buffalo Trace Search and Rescue, said he believed the state required that a county be in agreement with only one search and rescue organization.
“When I hear them talk about search and rescue and water rescue and helping the fire departments and traffic control — two things come to mind,” he said. “There is a problem with them doing the search and rescue because you can only have one affiliation agreement for the county for specific items.”
According to Hyrcza, if one group wanted to do ground rescue and the other do water rescue, the county could have agreements with two entities.
“The other thing I hear — when they talk about traffic control and fire departments and law enforcement; I don’t really think they can help law enforcement. We can’t help look for fugitives, we can’t look for evidence or search for known average persons who runaway.”
Kelsch asked another representative of the group if BCSAR would be willing with BTSAR.
“We’re just trying to do the best things we can for this county,” he said. “I have no problems working with Alex; none at all. It’s not about a power struggle. It’s about working together. Everybody in search and rescue always works together.”
Hyrcza said there are two options for the group; one of which being the BCSAR join the BTSAR and having its own identity. The other option would be for the organization to do less general search and rescue, which would allow them to have an affiliate agreement and be able to obtain grants.
Magistrate Scotty Lippert said that in a year from now, the county will have a decision to make, but in the meantime, it does not cost the county in money to allow the organization members to get trained.
“We know that Buffalo Trace will be the first to be called,” he said. “We understand that.”
In a separate issue, the court discussed the appointment of the search and rescue coordinator for the county, which is not connected to the search and rescue organizations.
Allen asked if it would be possible to advertise the position. Without a search and rescue coordinator, the emergency management director fills the position.
Bracken County Judge-Executive Tina Teegarden said the person who fills the position must have specific training.
“I’ve never had anyone approach me wanting to be appointed,” she said.
“Could we advertise it to the next meeting?” Allen said.
The position will be discussed again at the August meeting.
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