When public safety officials in Marion County, Florida, need help in emergency situations involving missing persons, they call on a special group of volunteers. Created in 2013, Marion County Search and Rescue assists law enforcement, emergency management and fire rescue agencies in Marion County and adjoining counties in Central Florida. Always at the ready, this team of highly-trained volunteers aids first responders in search, rescue and recovery operations involving lost, missing or incapacitated persons.
Like many volunteer organizations, the team at Marion County Search and Rescue – numbering 66 members – attracts enthusiastic people from all walks of life. According to Team Director Frank Marino, “We have a place for everyone on this team. There are engineers and housewives. Our youngest member is 18 years old, and our oldest member is 74.”
These tireless members have put in more than 700 hours of search time and 250 hours of community outreach, informing the public about their work and how to be prepared in case of man-made or natural emergencies. Social media communication has quickly become a key element of Marion County Search and Rescue’s relationship with the community. The team shares tips for emergency preparedness and alerts everyone in their network about missing persons.
When first responders have needed extra hands on deck to support search operations, Marion County Search and Rescue has mobilized to help. The combined efforts of law enforcement and these volunteers helped rescue and safely return two missing persons so far in 2014, one of whom went missing in the expansive Ocala National Forest.
According to Frank, “You cannot describe the feeling when you touch someone’s life, especially when people are in need.” The community in Central Florida is stronger – and safer – thanks to the good work being done by volunteer organizations like Marion County Search and Rescue, today’s Daily Point of Light.
Who are the unsung heroes in your community that make a difference through volunteerism? Tell their story by nominating them for a Daily Point of Light award at http://www.pointsoflight.org/programs/recognition/dpol/nomination