Search and Rescue Participates in Rescue Rodeo

Members were ‘voluntary victims’

Members of Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) participated as “voluntary victims” in the seventh annual multi-agency “Swift Water Rescue Rodeo” sponsored by the Aviation Unit of the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Arizona Hiking Shack on Saturday, June 6.

The competitive training event was held on the lower Salt River at Saguaro Lake Ranch in memory of fallen DPS Officer Bruce Harrolle, who was killed while assisting in the search and rescue of two stranded hikers in October 2008.

The rodeo provided an opportunity for teams from law enforcement, public safety agencies and clubs, who participate in swift water activities, to hone their skills while engaging in controlled swift water rescue situations with other teams from across the state.

There was no charge for the training event which was supported by APS, Northwest River Supply, John C. Lincoln Hospital, Arizona Hiking Shack, Saguaro Lake Ranch and the many volunteers who unselfishly gave of their time to support the event.

The rescue rodeo was held prior to the Arizona monsoon season, which can cause swift water situations to develop very quickly. Swift water rescues can be extremely dangerous for both victim and rescuer alike and many people are killed or injured while attempting to cross flooded roads, washes or areas of fast moving water.

SSAR has the only swift water rescue team in the county and holds the highest certifications. They participated in the rodeo event as “voluntary victims” in competitive scenarios created to resemble swift water rescue situations, which included Throw Bag and Tethered Strong Swimmer; Shallow Water Crossing; Boat Handling; Kayak Relay; Tethered Boat; Swimming Relay; and Tension Diagonal.

“Pinal County needs a multi-agency, mutual-aid team to be effectively responsive on a county wide basis,” said SSAR Commander Robert Cooper, who explained that SSAR alone cannot provide adequate response times to serve the entire Pinal County area.

Cooper would like to see fire and police agencies from cities across the county become interested in developing swift water rescue teams. These teams in turn, could respond to emergency situations across the county on a timely basis and work in cooperation with the Pinal County Office of Emergency Management.

SSAR is a nonprofit, volunteer service organization that is affiliated with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. The volunteer members of SSAR are highly trained in various wilderness rescue techniques and provide wilderness related search and rescue assistance to individuals who find themselves lost or injured in the Superstition Wilderness.

SSAR is funded solely by donations from community members, businesses and other entities that value their life-saving services. All donations are tax deductible and provide the group with valuable equipment and resources necessary to save lives, no matter what the amount. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to SSAR please visit its Web site at or you can send your donation to Superstition Search and Rescue, P.O. Box 1123, Apache Junction, AZ 85217.