Thursday, June 3, 2010

A good idea whose time has come

This sounds like a good idea provided all of the details can be worked out satisfactorily with all the potential partners including the Comal County Sheriff's Department.

Thank you Mark Mueller!

Canyon Lake rescue team proposal granted
A proposal is in the works for a Canyon Lake search and rescue team.

Mark Mueller, Canyon Lake-area resident, drafted a Voluntary Search and Rescue (VSAR) proposal after witnessing several tragedies he believes might have been prevented with a search and rescue team.

The proposal says the Canyon Lake VSAR team will “support and assist with the search and recovery of missing persons in the Canyon Lake area” when asked.

Mueller said a volunteer search and rescue team would ensure agencies involved have the resources available to perform missing person searches.

“I have always wanted to help people,” Mueller said. “I lost my brother and his fiancĂ© in Utah in 1995. They had been missing for several weeks and had both died of exposure (in the desert). There was no volunteer search and rescue in the area. Had there been, things may have turned out differently.”

If Mueller’s plans become a reality, the VSAR team would assist in water search and recovery, land search, air search, K-9 support and evidence collection.

Mueller, trained in emergency medical services, has experience in search and rescue as a certified diver.

“I grew up in Lake Tahoe, Calif. and have always been involved in outdoor recreation activities,” Mueller said. “I got into diving because I love the water and being with people who share the same interest. I still dive and volunteer with search and recovery if needed, however, not being affiliated with an organization makes it difficult to help.”

Shawn Wherry, Canyon Lake Fire and Emergency Medical Services chief, said his department has internal rescue capabilities to perform search and rescues, but his crew cannot perform tasks underwater.
“We have the logistics for Jet Ski personnel and services, but if we have situations that involve scuba diving, we call in the San Marcos or New Braunfels area dive teams,” Wherry said.

New Braunfels Fire Department Chief John Robinson said the New Braunfels dive team consists of 10 members trained as public safety divers.

“When we get deployed up there, we go as an assisting agency,” Robinson said.

Wherry said two or three people have lost their lives in Canyon Lake this year.

“Historically, the highest (number of fatalities) I have seen in one year was 15 people in the lake and river,” Wherry said.

The proposed VSAR team will be non-profit and consist of volunteers, Mueller said.

“Right now, I’m looking for volunteers with (an) aircraft or boat that can help with searches,” Mueller said. “I’m also looking for anyone who has or had any search and rescue experience who would like to help with organization and formation of this group.”

The proposal has several steps to go before becoming a reality.

Mueller said the Department of Public Safety, Comal County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would need to include the team in training opportunities.
Also, private funding will be needed.

“Unfortunately, the best experience I have is in seeing how having limited resources affects the family and friends of those who go missing,” Mueller said. “We have such a large area, and to rely on other communities for support, it’s unfair to the families of those who visit and have to wait for help to come from all over.”

To get involved in this effort, contact Mark Mueller at (210) 396-1764 or e-mail