SSAR Expands Services to Include Urban Rescue

Gold Canyon Today

Not just your usual Search and Rescue anymore; the New Year has brought organizational changes and additional services that will position SSAR to be a multi-faceted search and rescue organization uniquely equipped to provide both wilderness and urban search and rescue services.

“We are now governed by an Administrative Board and we have two search and rescue teams; Wilderness and Urban” said former SSAR Commander Robert Cooper; now Director of Urban SAR. “The change (in structure) is due to our expansion into Urban SAR,” explained Cooper, who added that they already have 15 Urban SAR trained members and expect to have another 20 trained in the next couple of months.

The SSAR restructuring has resulted in the formation of an Administrative Board of Directors consisting of Director Richard Wilson, Treasurer James Ballard, Secretary Joyce Wilson and Resource Officer Eileen Tremonti. Former SSAR Commander Robert Cooper will take on the position of Urban SAR Director and Mike Wallace will be the director of the Wilderness SAR team.

Over their nearly thirty years of service to the community, SSAR has received local and national recognition for their life-saving achievements. While the working relationship that SSAR had for decades with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has ceased; SSAR is now working closely with the Apache Junction Police Department to expand their search and rescue services to include an Urban SAR team.

The Urban SAR team will combine their previous wilderness search and rescue skills with their Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training to assist in urban related issues such as “cold cases”, lost children and adults, urban disaster issues and more.

The Homeland Security and FEMA recognized CERT training provides these individuals with the skills to determine what immediate services will be needed following a major disaster, thereby equipping them to make life decisions regarding rescuer safety and also what actions will provide the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT trained individuals are uniquely skilled to organize and mobilize teams to offer immediate help to victims while assisting first responders until professional services arrive.

CERT trained individuals can assist in any type of disaster; man-made or natural, such as the recent earthquake in Haiti where CERT trained individuals are already working in a coordinated, cohesive effort to save lives and provide survivors with necessities.

Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) is a volunteer service organization that assists individuals who experience wilderness-related and urban related problems. The members are highly skilled in wilderness first-aid, technical rescue, orienteering, urban rescue techniques and do not charge for these life-saving services. They sacrifice their personal time and resources to assist those in need and operate a 24/7 rescue hotline at 480-620-0299 for those needing assistance.

SSAR relies on donations from individuals and/or corporations and fund-raising activities to support the training and equipment they need to continue serving individuals who find themselves in a situation in which they require assistance. All donations are tax deductible and no matter what the amount, provide the group with valuable equipment and resources necessary to do their job – saving lives.

If you would like to donate to the unsung heroes of Superstition Search & Rescue, please send a check or money order payable to SSAR, P.O. Box 1123, Apache Junction, AZ 85217. For more information on SSAR or to make on online donation visit SSAR at http://www.superstitionsar.org.

SSAR Delivers

By Jill Jones
Gold Canyon Today

Rescue equipment and medical supplies were loaded into vehicles by Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) members who then made a three-hour trip to Mexico to deliver the much needed cargo to Officer Jesse Rodriguez, who is working to organize a search and rescue team in Mexico.

Rodriguez, a law enforcement officer and canine handler in Mexico is working with Cruz Roja (Mexican Red Cross) and their coordinator, Enrique Enriquez, to develop a trained search and rescue team.

Rodriguez contacted SSAR a few years back seeking information on dog handling and search and rescue training. That initial contact sparked a long-distance relationship between SSAR members and Rodriguez. Even though SSAR is a self-supporting, all-volunteer organization; team members took on the challenge of helping their counterpart in Mexico.

SSAR volunteer Joyce Wilson worked tirelessly to obtain a grant for Rodriguez to attend a dog-handling course, only to be told that Rodriguez would not be able attend because he is not a U.S. citizen. This set-back took a toll on Rodriguez, who was so disappointed that he considered giving up on his dream of organizing a rescue team. Wilson eventually convinced Rodriguez to persevere and she and SSAR became an integral component in Rodriguez’s quest.

On Wednesday, December 30, 2009 members of Superstition Search and Rescue met with members of Rodriguez’s team, presenting them with backpacks, boots, medical supplies, tents, ropes and more so that the Mexico team can provide life saving services in their country.

Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) is a volunteer service organization that assists individuals who experience wilderness-related problems in the Superstition Wilderness Area. The members are highly skilled in wilderness first-aid, technical rescue, orienteering and do not charge for these life-saving services. They sacrifice their personal time and resources to assist those in need and operate a 24/7 rescue hotline at 480-620-0299 for those needing assistance.

SSAR relies on donations from individuals and/or corporations and fund-raising activities to support the training and equipment they need to continue serving individuals who find themselves in a situation in which they require assistance. All donations are tax deductible and no matter what the amount, provide the group with valuable equipment and resources necessary to do their job – saving lives.

If you would like to donate to the unsung heroes of Superstition Search & Rescue, please send a check or money order payable to SSAR, P.O. Box 1123, Apache Junction, AZ 85217. For more information on SSAR or to make on online donation visit SSAR at http://www.superstitionsar.org

SSAR Finds Body in San Tan Valley Canal

Gold Canyon Today

Superstition Search and Rescue came to the aid of a family in need, by helping them find the body of a missing loved one.


According to Public Information Officer Lt. Tamatha Villar, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) was contacted by a San Tan Valley woman who’s boyfriend had never returned home New Year’s Eve. Sources say that the man had been drinking at the Gym Grill and Bar and had decided to walk home. Officers responded to the call but could not find the man. On Jan. 2, officers canvassing the canal near where he was last seen found his hat and a shoe.

After the personal items were found the PCSO drug the canal with hooks but were hampered by the fact that their search and rescue posse did not have the equipment or training to drag the canal. The man’s family contacted Superstition Search and Rescue who responded, dragged the canal and recovered his body at approximately noon on Jan. 3.