SSAR Receives CERT Training

15 members will join Urban Search and Rescue Team

Apache Junction News

Fifteeen members of the Superstition Search and Rescue team recently graduated from CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training, which brings the organization’s total to 25, with an additional 22 members in training.

The 15 members will now join the newly formed Urban Search and Rescue Team.

“A CERT team is a nationally recognized volunteer emergency response team made up of individuals who have received specific training in disaster response,” said Commander Robert Cooper.

“These individuals assist both local and national emergency responders in the event of a major disaster event. The training these individuals receive is recognized by Homeland Security and FEMA and serves to equip the team members with the skills to determine what services are needed and what actions should be taken to provide the greatest good for the greatest number. Whether a disaster is man-made or natural, CERT teams are trained to mobilize immediately to save lives and offer immediate help to victims.”

Cooper said thanks to the dedication of his group’s members, its partnership with the Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD) and the continued support from the community, SSAR will be one of the most well-equipped urban rescue teams in the states. It is also a few steps shy of being recognized as a National Response Team, which can be called upon to assist in rescues nationwide.

While disaster preparedness is at the heart of the CERT program, the SSAR Urban Response Team will also use its skills to assist the AJPD and community in other areas such as cold cases, lost children and adults, local emergencies and more.

Superstition Search and Rescue recently celebrated 15 of its members finishing CERT training. Those with the training are wearing bright yellow vests.

SSAR also continues to provide the community with the highly skilled wilderness rescue services for which they are renowned.

The Apache Junction Police Department welcomes this additional help and values the partnership of such a well-trained, nationally recognized Community Emergency Response Team.

“It is in times of emergencies when you need to draw on all available resources to help mitigate what has occurred,” said AJPD Police Chief Jerald Monahan. “Having well-trained, dedicated volunteers are a huge asset and valuable resource that any community can benefit from.”

SSAR has helped the AJPD with a number of missing person cases, including the case of the kidnapped 2-year-old girl that occurred last year. The result was a successful rescue and a long prison sentence for the offender.

SSAR is a private volunteer service organization dedicated to wilderness and urban search and rescue in Arizona since 1981. The members are trained in urban rescue, CERT and are highly skilled in wilderness first aid, technical rescue and orienteering.

SSAR does not charge for these life-saving services as members sacrifice their personal time and resources to assist those in need, Cooper said. SSAR operates a 24/7 emergency hotline at (480) 620-0299 for those needing assistance.

In addition to the achievement, SSAR received a “general donation” from an unnamed Gold Canyon resident for equipment to outfit its expanding team.

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 situations in which they require assistance. All donations are tax deductible. To donate, send a check or money order payable to SSAR to P.O. Box 1123, Apache Junction, AZ 85217.

For more information on SSAR or to make an online donation, visit www.superstitionsar.org.